NBLC Insights

 

Commentary on the development industry, insight into market trends and news at NBLC.

 

Province of Ontario moving forward with plans for Ontario Place

The Province of Ontario has announced that it is moving forward with its vision to revitalize Ontario Place.  The Province’s plans include the development of a waterfront canal district with shops and restaurants, a landscaped pedestrian bridge spanning Lake Shore Boulevard, expanded music facilities, new parks and festival space as well as a hub for culture, discovery and innovation. The iconic Cinesphere and Pods will be retained.

This announcement represents the culmination of more than 12 months of work and partnership between Infrastructure Ontario, Urban Strategies, NBLC and other consultants. Our firm is proud to have provided detailed market research and financial analysis throughout the study of potential redevelopment concepts for this key public asset.

Also, make sure to have a look at the Ministry of Tourism Culture and Sport’s revitalization plans.

 

– Mark Conway, Senior Partner 

 

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6-Storey Wood-Frame Construction:

Should we be aiming higher with new Ontario legislation?!

For many years now, NBLC has been one of the development industry’s leading proponents for amendments to the Ontario Building Code to allow for the increased use of structural wood products in mid-rise housing.   As the charge to make such legislative changes has stalled in recent years, we believe it is the perfect time to reset our goals to address housing affordability in a more meaningful way.  It’s time to aim higher.

First, let’s take a step back.  In our seminal study prepared for the Ontario Growth Secretariat and the Ministry of Infrastructure in 2010, entitled the Wood Use Impact Study, we explored the answers to key market and financial feasibility questions that many in the development industry had suspected for some time.  The Study was authored alongside Consulting Matrix with valued contributions from Pelican Woodcliff, Turner Fleischer Architects and Stephenson Engineering. The Study concludes that by allowing 6-storey wood-frame residential and mixed-use construction, noteworthy hard-cost savings will be realized. Often, this would lop off 6 months from the construction schedule, making developments in marginal condominium apartment markets feasible and allowing for consumer savings in others.  As one might expect, the implications for achieving housing affordability and realizing improved urban environments are enormous, particularly for the 905, the outer suburbs of Toronto and along Toronto’s Avenues, where mid-rise forms are encouraged – not to mention other growing regions in the Province like Kitchener-Waterloo and Ottawa.

Our interviews with 18 mid-rise developers demonstrated a growing enthusiasm for building 6-storey wood-frame condominium apartment buildings.  However, concerns remained, including the need for additional education and information relating to fire suppression, mold resistance, noise transmission between floors, and further confirmation of construction cost savings.  Newly completed wood frame projects in excess of 5-storeys in Vancouver and cities across Europe have certainly gone a long way to alleviate these concerns.

With the ever-rising cost of condominium apartment housing in and around the Toronto downtown in particular, we were heartened to see C.F. Møller Architects’ 34-storey wood tower design come forward this past year.  The Swedish practice has designed a Stockholm skyscraper utilizing a blend of wooden construction around a concrete core.  The design builds upon the earlier structural design successes, including the 9-storey wood-frame Stadthaus by Telford Homes, completed in London in 2009 in just 49 weeks!

Despite what the Canadian Concrete Masonry Producers Association might have you believe in their negative ad campaigns, performance-based approaches for wood construction allow for creative, hybrid design solutions to achieve a multitude of value-engineering, design and land use planning objectives.  Accordingly, new Building Code legislation proposed in Ontario and nationally, should aim higher this time around, to better align with the province’s intensification policies, and to take advantage of the political downtime.

To learn more about our Wood Use Impact Study findings and for other insight into the development industry, we encourage you to get in touch with us.

– Barry Lyon, President & Senior Partner 
– Scott Walker, Partner, MCIP, RPP, PLE