Higher and higher

Last week, The Times Colonist urged the provincial government to take a more "cautious approach" in implementing its controversial decision to allow taller wood-frame buildings. In response, Housing and Social Development Minister Rich Coleman wrote a letter to the editor explaining that decision was taken "after careful consultation with building experts in B.C. and internationally." But he's not the only one who rushed to defend such buildings.

In a letter to the editor, Dwight Yochim claimed, "In Seattle they have been building six-storey wood buildings for years and their climate and seismic issues are the same as Victoria's." This, despite the fact that, according to that city's principle engineer and building official Jon Sui, no such structures exist.

Moreover, Mr. Yochim has an interest in such structures, being the national director of WoodWorks - "a cooperative venture of all the major wood associations in North America, as well as research organizations and government agencies" that provides "one-stop access" to information about the "use of wood in non-residential structures."

The following is a complete copy of Mr. Yochim's aforementioned letter.


When it comes to the number of storeys a wood building can go, B.C. is behind the rest of the world. In Seattle they have been building six-storey wood buildings for years and their climate and seismic issues are the same as Victoria's. In the U.K. they have nine-storey wood buildings.

Using wood is not just a financial issue, although it is a good reason to build with it. Using wood helps B.C.'s economy. Our major industry is forestry and if B.C. isn't leading the world on what can be built out of wood, how do we convince others to use our wood?

Wood is also the greenest structural material we know of. It is sustainable, has the lowest impact on the environment and outperforms concrete and steel when measured using lifecycle analysis. Fire, seismic and durability can all be addressed if designed and built properly.

Six storeys is a good start. I hope we can show the world what is possible using wood rather than playing catch up with everyone else. Why not go higher?

Dwight Yochim


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