Figuring out the construction of six-storey wood buildings is a learning curve for everyone in Ontario and it takes a little more time to understand the nuances.

“It hasn’t been a walk in the park,” said David Moses of Moses Structural Engineers, who is working on both Heartwood The Beach and Cabin Toronto. He worked in B.C. for a decade and moved to Ontario 10 years ago, and so he has a background in multi-storey wood structures. “We’re telling clients that even before they’ve bought the property to get us involved, including the city.”

Moses said there is some reluctance on the part of some developers because it’s a new concept and they don’t want to be the first.

In Toronto, the city has been cautious but supportive, he added. “If they have questions, they don’t shut it down, they just ask for clarification,” Moses said.

Ann Borooah, chief building official for the City of Toronto, said the city has its own expertise in house in the former Vancouver chief building official, now in North York, and every one is learning.
“It’s a departure from standard building practices,” she said. “Ontario’s got a long tradition in concrete and is a leader. Wood has been for smaller houses. The architects, designer, trades and suppliers, everyone has to get up to speed.”

She said the code references standards, and some of the issues are around those standards as everyone ramps up their learning curve.

“We’re quite interested to see something new, though we see new things all the time in Toronto, working with new buildings and existing buildings, it’s not like a cookie cutter here,” she said. “Because it’s a novelty, we are open to very proactive discussion.”