There’s been a lot of tension between the province of Ontario and municipalities, especially Toronto, but one piece of seemingly good news is the recent funding for a new mass timber manufacturing facility.
Ontario announced that it is investing nearly $5 million in Element5’s new facility in St. Thomas, which will be the first cross laminated timber plant in Ontario and one of the first in North America. The new facility will create more than 60 jobs and support the forestry sector’s 150,000 direct and indirect jobs in Ontario.
"We're grateful for the support of the Government of Ontario. This is a significant investment in the Ontario forestry industry, job creation, housing, innovation and technology, and the environment in the form of green building practices," says Frank Dottori, Industry Leadership at Element5. "Through their generous support, Ontario and specifically St. Thomas are well poised to become the centre of the mass timber industry in North America."
"I'm pleased to support Element5's work to create cost-effective and environmentally friendly building materials from sustainable renewable resources," adds Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and MPP for Elgin-Middlesex-London. "This investment will reduce carbon dioxide emissions and create jobs right here in Ontario and in St. Thomas, contributing to our goal of balancing a healthy environment and healthy economy."
The investment coincides with the Made-in-Ontario Environmental Plan and the controversial Housing Supply Action Plan. Increasing and supporting the use of mass timber in the home building industry should reduce emissions and speed up construction, all while supporting Ontario workers.
"Mass timber construction will be an important innovation that can help bring housing to market faster, while still meeting the high standards in the Ontario Building Code to protect public health and safety," says Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. "This is all part of our plan to give the people of Ontario more housing and more choice."
What we find interesting is that the Sidewalk Toronto plan calls for mass timber construction and prefab designs for all of the new buildings on the east waterfront, and the plan even suggests developing a mass timber manufacturing industry in Ontario. Perhaps the new St. Thomas facility is a sign that Sidewalk Labs’ homegrown mass timber buildings are actually possible, even at this large scale.
With Ontario’s mass timber industry on the verge of blossoming, it will be interesting to see how it impacts the housing supply, prices, and home design.