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Saanich to build wooden fire hall as part of provincial investment into mass timber building materials

A rendering of Saanich's #2 fire hall redevelopment project, which will be constructed out of mass timber technology.  HMCA Architecture + Design

Saanich to build wooden fire hall as part of provincial investment into mass timber building materials
Edited: April 12th, 2021
Saanich’s replacement of its #2 fire hall on Royal Oak Drive at Elk Lake Drive will be constructed out of mass timber technology as part of a provincial investment and study into the B.C.-made building material.
The Province of British Columbia has announced $4.2 million in funding for a dozen projects throughout the province to utilize mass timber technologies in lieu of traditional building methods and components, one of which will be a fire hall with "strict post-disaster requirements."
“The face of construction is about to change in British Columbia through our government’s investments in mass timber,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “By encouraging greater use of mass timber, we are supporting jobs in research, design, engineering, construction and forestry using B.C. expertise and materials.”
Albeit a wood-built fire station may be fodder for friendly jabs, the cross-laminated timber and glue-laminated timber materials that will be used to construct the nearly 24,000 square foot building are considered as fire-safe as concrete or alternate materials, and as part of the government’s study, further testing of the resiliency of mass timber under a variety of uses will help establish limitations and identify opportunities.
Project architects HCMA Architecture + Design assisted with the preparation of a business case and $26.59 million budget that were approved by Saanich council in May of 2019. Currently, the Rezoning and Development Permit application is being reviewed by the Planning Department. Saanich Council has not approved the Rezoning or Development Permit at this time.
Construction on the two-storey hall is expected to begin this year with completion in 2023.
Other projects part of the provincial study include low-cost housing in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, and an Indigenous health and culture centre. 
“As we work to put the pandemic behind us, we will continue making strategic investments that position B.C. to come back stronger on the other side,” said Premier John Horgan. “Mass timber is good for forestry-dependent communities, workers and the environment – because it adds value rather than just volume. That’s why growing the sector is key to building a strong and sustainable economic recovery that reaches everyone.”
In a statement released by the province, a mass timber advisory council will be established to support the development community with the adoption of mass timber products.
“The advisory council is a group of experts from urban planning and development, First Nations, forest products industry, environmental non-profits, academia and local governments,” the statement reads. “The council will provide advice and guidance towards establishing B.C. as a leader in the production and use of mass timber, as well as the creation of a mass timber action plan.”
Mass timber technology is already in use throughout the Capital Region, with a 12-storey condominium tower (named Tresah from development firm Mike Geric Construction) now rising along the 600-block of Speed Avenue in the City of Victoria, while a 15-storey mass timber affordable rental complex was recently approved for Colwood Corners on the West Shore. Also on the West Shore is Terminus at District 56, a commercial mass timber development comprised of a low-rise office building and future mass timber residential towers. C
Note: this article has been updated to clarify Saanich council's approval of a formal Rezoning and Development Permit is pending as of the publication date of this article. The anticipated approvals will be in addition to an approved budget.
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