OSWA and the wood industry meet at the recent Light-Frame Wood Solutions Conference

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L-R Steven Street, Executive Director, Wood Works Ontario; Hon Graydon Smith, Minister of Natural Resources & Forestry and MPP for Parry Sound-Muskoka; Mike Phillips, Executive Director, Ontario Structural Wood Association; Laura Smith, MPP Thornhill

Mike Phillips

Special to Ontario Construction News

Close to 300 wood industry experts gathered together on Feb. 13 to discuss solutions to Ontario’s housing crisis. The Light-Frame Wood Solutions Conference explored how modular, prefabricated and offsite manufactured construction methods can be used for all types of construction, but could be of particular value in the delivery of much needed housing.

The conference was a joint production of WoodWorks Ontario and Ontario Structural Wood Association (OSWA). WoodWorks is the technical outreach office of the Canadian Wood Council (CWC). OSWA members provide the wood structural solutions – roof trusses, floor assemblies, wall panels plus dimensional lumber and engineered wood products – that our housing stock in Ontario is built with. OSWA members were joined at the conference by a broad mix of engineers, architects, building and other government officials and developers.

The conference kicked off in the morning with a speech from the Hon. Graydon Smith, Minister of Natural Resources & Forestry, MPP for Parry Sound-Muskoka. With forestry as part of his portfolio, he is as excited as we are, to grow wood construction in Ontario. He noted that the government housing action plan would be coming in the months ahead. As the province sets targets to double housing starts over the next decade, it is clear that now is the time to expand wood component manufacturing capacity.

After this call to action, the conference settled into discussing the details of offsite wood construction. Cory McCambridge from APA – The Engineered Wood Association, explored the common and not so common mistakes made when building with wood in a presentation titled “Frame it Right.”

oswa imageNext Home Technology discussed how they delivered 469 floor panels, 101 roof panels and 2,317 wall panels from their Etobicoke factory to Milton to build a 6-story mid-rise light framed residence – and it took a mere 10-weeks. Did somebody mention that we need housing fast?

United Edge Components and P3 Panels illustrated how they are fast becoming juggernauts in the Eastern Ontario market with their program to provide complete framing packages for the missing middle in the housing market; floor assemblies, wall panels and roof truss systems are installed quickly and efficiently for practically any configuration of multi-unit housing that you can imagine!

As an industry, we are raising our game with the implementation of quality control requirements for roof trusses plus existing CSA standards for panelization. Robert Kok with RCK Engineering Solutions explained how the market and the building code demands it and the industry is responding.

No meeting about wood construction would be complete without some discussion about the role the wood industry has in climate change mitigation. Natasha Jeremic with the Canadian Wood Council reviewed the intricacies of LCAs (Life Cycle Assessments) and EPDs (Environmental Product Declarations). All you really need to remember is that “Wood is Good”, in fact wood is the gold standard of building materials.

Our luncheon speaker was Peter Norman, chief economist with the Altus Group. The title of his talk, said it all – “Controlling the Boil: The complex outlook for housing and development in Ontario amidst strong demographics and a weak economy.” While the need exists, the industry is going to need some support to make it happen.

With the immediate and considerable need for more housing in Ontario, OSWA members, and the broader wood industry, are an important part of the solution, and this group is prepared to help take on the housing crisis head on!

Mike Phillips is the Executive Director at Ontario Structural Wood Association (OSWA)

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