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Vancouver approves new incentives for mass timber construction

New mass-timber building projects in Vancouver can now apply to be taller
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Vancouver could see more buildings like Brock Commons at the University of British Columbia thanks to new incentives.

Vancouver city council is branching out with new incentives to spur more mass timber construction.

The motion approved on Feb. 27, which will amend the city’s zoning and development bylaw, proposes a rezoning policy to accelerate mass timber construction for new buildings taller than six storeys.

New buildings in areas that would typically allow for eight to 11 storeys can qualify for two additional storeys, and buildings in areas that allow for 12 or more storeys can qualify for three additional storeys.

The city’s communications team said in a release the aim is to provide additional support at the pre-application stage for those looking to build with mass timber.

Carbon emissions reductions and increased construction efficiency are among the reasons Vancouver should be encouraging mass timber construction, according to a letter submitted to council by the Urban Development Institute (UDI) industry association.

“We were pleased to see included in the proposals increases in density and height, allowing the mass timber incentives to be combined with other city incentives such as those for below-market housing, and the ability to apply these incentives to hybrid buildings as long as mass timber comprises over 50 per cent of the building materials,” UDI president and CEO Anne McMullin said in the letter.

The province announced last December it would consider changes to B.C. building and fire codes to allow as many as 18 storeys for mass timber residential and office buildings, instead of the current 12-storey limit.

“It’s a game-changer, offering significant environmental benefits by reducing emissions compared to typical concrete buildings. It’s not only affordable and safe, but stands strong against fires and earthquakes,” said Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim in a statement.

clwilson@glaciermedia.ca