The government of Ontario is proposing to amend the province’s building code to permit the construction of up to six storey wood-frame buildings. Greenpeace Canada supports this sensible step to stimulate a stable and diversified forest sector in Ontario.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) explains some of the benefits in permitting “mid-rise” buildings to be constructed with wood frames. On top of design innovation, the importance of environmentally friendly construction and support for value added wood products are of particular significance.

Building a sustainable Ontario economy means gaining more local economic value from every tree that is harvested in the province while managing for healthy forests. Value-added wood products like beams, trusses and housing components allow companies to hire more people per cubic metre of wood than a conventional forest company. Employment in value-added forest industries in Ontario has been too low for too long by global standards, despite the province’s proximity to this resource.

The Ministry also identifies “good forestry practices” as key to environmentally friendly wood construction. This is important. We have seen increasing market demand for products from responsibly managed forests, with an increasing number of companies requiring wood products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council – the only timber certification system endorsed by the environmental community.

In practice, responsible forest management involves respecting the right of Ontario’s Indigenous communities to free, prior and informed consent for products sourced from their traditional territories. It also means forest practices are consistent with regionally appropriate conservation and protected area plans based on independent science that achieve ecosystem resilience and caribou recovery.

Greenpeace encourages the government to further support value-added industries in the Boreal Forest, while preserving the tremendous ecological value of Ontario’s Boreal Forest for the future.