Mass timber has progressed from an experimental stage to routine in projects across Canada, observers say. A federal report last year noted nearly 500 projects nationally, with 52 under construction, 12 planned and 412 completed, and in Toronto alone 12 projects are underway.



Walk past a construction site in cities across Canada and the chances are better than ever you’ll see workers and cranes hoisting giant mass timber beams into place.

Mass timber is turning into a mass movement. Once considered mostly an experimental construction technology, the use of glued, laminated wood beams (called glulam) is taking hold in the design and construction of larger, commercial, industrial and institutional buildings.

“Ontario is taking to mass timber in a big way,” says Patrick Chouinard, vice-president, market strategy and communications at Element5, which designs timber projects and has a 137,000-square-foot factory in St. Thomas, Ont. The factory provides glulam and cross-laminated wood used for walls, floors and floor separation.

“We’re seeing it happen more and more. Contractors are now asking us: ‘Are you sure you have enough people to do the work [with mass timber]?’ ” says Mike Yorke, president of the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario, the union representing more than 30,000 workers across the province.

“We’re looking at as many as 12 mass timber projects running in Toronto right now, and others in the Greater Toronto Area and other cities,” he says. Mass timber is not only good for carpenters, Mr. Yorke notes, it’s also good for the environment and for reducing carbon emissions.

By the end of last year, the federal government’s State of Mass Timber in Canada report noted that there were already nearly 500 mass timber projects across the country, with 412 completed, 52 under construction and another 12 planned.

They range from prominent projects such as the 251,000-square-foot T3 Bayside office building going up at Toronto’s Waterfront to another project by the same firm in Toronto’s West End called T3 Sterling Road.