Beginning in November, the City of Calgary will be accepting building permit applications for six-storey wood-frame residential buildings.
This will only apply in areas where the building proposal would comply with the applicable zoning rules. The current Building Code limits wood frame residential construction to four storeys.
"We are looking at innovative ways to make housing more affordable for Calgarians," said Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi. "Six story wood buildings are easier and cheaper to build than using other materials, which makes for more affordable homes."
According to the city, officials engaged with the industry for two years and responded to public comments for the National Building Code.
Calgary joins jurisdictions in Quebec, British Columbia and on January 1, 2015, Ontario, to allow six storey wood buildings.
Rollin Stanley, General Manager of planning, development and assessment explained that "cities across North America permit this type of construction. It has provided lower cost construction and we have looked at building practices in these places to model our approach to regulations."
The City is also taking best practices from these jurisdictions to adopt in Calgary which include enhanced Fire Safety Plans during construction.
"The Canadian Home Builders' Association – Calgary Region would like to thank The City of Calgary for their leadership in providing this exciting opportunity to bring more mid-rise multifamily construction to Calgary," said Amie Blanchette, director of government affairs with CHBA. "This new choice in the marketplace will assist our builders in meeting the steadily increasing demand for safe, quality housing in a variety of forms throughout the city."
The city will be accepting building permit applications for six-storey wood-frame structures immediately using an alternative solution process, to meet the minimum requirements of the Alberta Building Code, until the changes are adopted.
Opponents, like the Cement Association of Canada have argued against tall wood building, citing concerns that the structures are more vulnerable to fires.