Reasons foreign and domestic

"If I were a Chinese builder and I've got a bunch of Canadians urging me to build six-floor walkups out of wood, I'd ask what do you do with them here. And we, up till now, haven't allowed that. Is that why we're legalizing six-storey wood-frame construction here - to convince the Chinese?" That's was the question The Times Colonist's Les Leyne posed to Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell yesterday. But Minister Bell's response sent a mixed message.

He first said, "The situation that you just described is exactly what happened. We were encouraging the Chinese to build six-storey walkup apartment buildings. And they said, 'Well, show us what you do.' And, of course, we were unable to do that.'"

But he then added, "The fact we've moved forward on six-storey design here in British Columbia has no correlation to the work that goes on in China. However, I do think it will be a valuable marketing opportunity as we go forward."

Minister Bell also said Chinese builders are being taught to use the same construction techniques that recently allowed a six-storey wood-frame building to survive a shake table test in Japan.

In British Columbia, firefighters have said they have serious concerns about the government's decision to permit those such buildings.

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