Ground-breaking for mass timber condo project near Mayfair

Given the non-stop rain this week there may be more mud in the air than dirt on today as ground is broken and ceremonial spades turn earth for what will be the largest mass timber condominium project in the region.

Tresah, a two-phase, 245-unit condo project, is being built on Frances Avenue across from Mayfair shopping centre, a development Ed Geric believes is the start of a new style of building on the Island.

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“This is the time I love what I do, launching things and getting them rolling,” said Geric, president of Mike Geric Construction, which is building the $80-million project.

Geric said this may be the first mass timber condominium project on the Island — a mass timber rental project is under construction and there have been commercial buildings — but it won’t be the last.

He said given the environmental and sustainable benefits of building condos with wood and the fact the government is pushing it as a value-added addition to the forest industry, it’s bound to become more popular.

In mass-timber buildings, the primary load-bearing structure is made of solid or engineered wood — lumber is laminated together to form structural components for floors, walls and beams. These buildings can be one-fifth the weight of comparable concrete buildings, while still meeting performance standards for safety, structural resilience and fire protection.

Last year, 13 B.C. communities, including Victoria, Saanich, Langford and Colwood committed to adopting mass timber technology for taller wood buildings when the province indicated the building code would allow for 12-storey timber construction.

This year the province doubled down on its commitment to mass-timber construction when ­Premier John Horgan appointed Ravi Kahlon to push the expanded the use of the technology.

“It’s not new technology, but previously the building code didn’t allow for it [in high-rise construction],” said Geric. “Now it’s heavily supported in B.C. and there’s three or four companies producing mass timber.”

Geric said his company has never built a concrete and steel condo building, so being able to expand the use of timber to build 12-storey projects suited them.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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