Province kicks in $500,000 for Saanich fire hall, to be built with mass timber

The provincial government will spend $4.2 million to help fund 12 mass timber demonstration and research projects around B.C. — including Saanich’s new fire hall.

The grants include $500,000 for the redevelopment of Saanich Fire Station No. 2, which will demonstrate how mass timber can be used in a post-disaster building designed to withstand emergencies.

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That project will replace the existing one-storey, 3,800-square-foot building with a two-storey, 23,580-square-foot building featuring a steel and timber post and beam system. The building will accommodate a fire training tower and emergency vehicles.

In mass-timber buildings, the primary load-bearing structure is made of solid or engineered wood. These buildings can be one-fifth the weight of comparable concrete buildings, while still meeting performance standards for safety, structural resilience and fire protection.

The investment is part of the province’s post-COVID economic recovery plan.

“Diversifying our forest sector is a key part of our government’s plan to create and support jobs in every region of the province,” said Forests Minister Katrine Conroy.

A new mass timber advisory council has been established to help establish the province as a leader in the production and use of mass timber.

Ravi Kahlon, minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation, said encouraging greater use of mass timber will support jobs in research, design, engineering, construction and forestry.

The demonstration projects that are part of this tranche of funding are intended to highlight the versatility and performance of the building material.

The research projects will study mass timber’s fire performance, the costs relative to steel and concrete, and carbon benefits.

The $26-million replacement and ­expansion of the fire station on Elk Lake Drive is expected to be complete in 2023.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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