QUEEN’S PARK – Bill Mauro, the MPP for Thunder Bay Atikokan had what can be called a positive day on Thursday. Mauro’s Private Member’s Bill, Ontario’s Wood First Act (Bill 61), passed second reading in the Ontario Legislature. Mauro says, “This is an important step forward. By generating greater demand for forestry products, we can bring more jobs back to Northern Ontario’s forestry sector”.
“I want to thank NOMA and the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce for their support. Ontario’s Wood First Act provides us with an opportunity to increase demand for Ontario forest products. We’ve seen movement in other jurisdictions towards a Wood First policy—I think we can make this work in Ontario as well.”
Ontario’s Wood First Act promotes the use of wood as the primary building material in publicly-funded buildings. This could generate more employment and economic benefits through the further manufacturing of value-added wood products for building materials.
The legislation would also require that Ontario’s Building Code increase the maximum height of wood-framed buildings from 4 storeys to 6 storeys. According to Ontario Wood Works, this change could increase lumber production in Ontario by $40 million per year, and $200 million in additional lumber production over 5 years.
Ontario’s Wood First Act has been referred to the Standing Committee on Social Policy.
Ontario’s Wood First Act has a precedent: British Columbia passed legislation in 2009 promoting the use of wood as the primary building material in publicly-funded buildings;
In 2009, British Columbia has also amended their building code to allow wood-framed buildings up to six storeys.
Québec has implemented a wood use strategy that seeks to increase the use of wood in public buildings, non-residential construction, and multi-family housing.
New Brunswick announced in their fall 2010 Throne Speech, its intention to create wood first legislation.