OTTAWA, May 22, 2013 /CNW/ - The Cement Association of Canada (CAC)
today expressed tremendous disappointment with those members of the
building and construction industry who have called for changes to the
Ontario Building Code (OBC) to allow construction of six-storey
wood-frame buildings. The CAC is concerned that these proposed changes
could put cost savings ahead of safety.
Above all, changes to the OBC must address safety and fire implications.
The 2011 Richmond, British Columbia fire that saw the first six-storey
wood-frame construction completely destroyed during the construction
phase demonstrates the need for caution. Many of the units in the
project were to provide affordable housing opportunities to seniors and
new Canadians. Last year, in an Ottawa Sun article, the Fire Fighters Association of Ontario (FFAO) stated that
allowing the increase from four to six-storey construction
"unnecessarily increases risk to the public and firefighters."
In 2011, the Ontario Part 3 and 4 Technical Advisory Committees,
consisting of engineers, architects, firefighters, and other
professional representatives, rejected any changes to mid-rise
wood-frame construction codes. These representatives are leaders in
their industry and provide independent and balanced advice based on
their expertise and for the safety of Ontarians. The Ontario government
ultimately listened to the Committees' recommendations and no
amendments were made with respect to the maximum height allowance of
mid-rise wood frame construction when the revised Ontario Building Code
was announced in November 2012.
"We are disappointed with the requested changes. It is critical for the
effectiveness, credibility and reputation of the Ontario Building Code
process that any proposed changes to the OBC go through the proper code
development process. The code system was put in place to ensure the
safety of our citizens, especially the most vulnerable ones, and should
not be circumvented by any industry sector, especially if it could put
the safety of Ontario residents at risk. Fundamentally, it should
always be left to the licensed architects, engineers and building
professionals to determine the safest and best building material for
the job", said Michael McSweeney, President and CEO of the CAC.
Beyond safety, there are many other reasons why developers choose
concrete over wood frame construction. In a recent Globe and Mail article by Hadani Ditmars, Sotheby's realtor David Thomas is quoted as
saying that units in his Vancouver project are selling "specifically
because it's a concrete building." The developer's website details
seven reasons to "buy concrete," including fire and structural safety;
durability; energy efficiency; and health and air quality.
The CAC and its members have worked with the Ontario Ministry of
Municipal Affairs and Housing to ensure that any changes to the OBC go
through the proper code development process and oversight prior to any
amendments being considered. The CAC's intent is to ensure that the
safety of Ontarians remain the primary focus for amendments to the OBC,
not industry initiatives.
About the Cement Association of Canada
The Cement Association of Canada represents cement manufacturers across
Canada, including Ontario. Ontario cement manufacturers include Essroc
Italcementi Group, Federal White Cement, Holcim Canada, Lafarge Canada
and St. Marys Cement Group.
SOURCE: Cement Association of Canada
For further information:
Cement Association of Canada
T: 613-236-9471; ext 211