Wood WORKS! Building for the future

A Winner in Wood

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Western Red Cedar encases the new Victoria Linklater Memorial School at North Spirit Lake First Nation in the heart of the majestic boreal forest of Northwestern Ontario. The school, which was designed and constructed by Architecture 49 and WSP Group was chosen to receive the Northern Ontario Excellence Award, sponsored by FedNor, at the 14th Annual Wood WORKS! Awards Program held recently in Toronto.

It's an inspiration that has evolved into an annual celebration. Each November, a select group of Ontario's leading architects, engineers and project teams gather to salute creative design and construction over a diverse spectrum of buildings and structures using one of our greatest natural resources: wood. This year's 14th Annual Wood WORKS! Awards program honoured several winning projects, including the wood veil at Lansdowne Park's CFL stadium in Ottawa, three schools and a recreation complex according to Marianne Berube, Executive Director of the Ontario Wood WORKS! program. "The role of wood in commercial and institutional construction is growing", says Ms. Berube. "A program like this helps to further position wood as the first choice and best-value building material for all types of construction".

The impetus for the growing "build with wood" culture in Ontario takes its cue from the Canadian Wood Council (CWC), a national, industry-led initiative that started a pilot project in 2000 in North Bay. The goal was to help enhance and strengthen Northern Ontario's forestry and wood product sectors. The forest industry contributes more than $4 billion to Ontario's economy and is the main source of employment in more than 40 communities, most of them in Northern Ontario.

Along with partnership support and funding from FedNor, Marianne Berube has helped guide the program from its pilot launch to the provincial initiative it has become today. She is also the founder of the prestigious Wood WORKS! Awards program which has been adopted across Canada and the U.S. "It's been very rewarding to see the momentum of the project as it has grown to be recognized across Ontario", says Ms. Berube. "I can't thank FedNor enough for its strong support since inception. They have been a great partner over the years and recognize the significance our growth and outreach has on Northern communities."

A total team effort

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Marianne Berube, Executive Director of the Ontario Wood WORKS! Program, stands among the building industry stakeholders and Northern Ontario municipal leaders who were recognized for their leadership at the recent Wood WORKS! Awards Program in Toronto. The group helped to bring about changes to the Ontario Building Code that will permit 6-storey wood frame construction in the province.

Since its inception in 2000, the Ontario Wood WORKS! program has helped promote the use of wood in more than 190  construction projects across Northern Ontario, create or maintain more than 525 jobs, and increase wood sales by more than $105 million.

The future for the "build with wood" culture looks equally promising according to Marianne Berube now that the provincial government has amended the Ontario Building Code that will permit 6-storey wood-frame construction in the province. "By working together with construction industry stakeholders, we encouraged the government to support this change for the benefit of all Ontarians", says Ms. Berube. "Effective January 1, 2015, these new provisions will create opportunities for the construction of entirely new building types. We are all looking forward to the first 6-storey wood frame building to be built in Ontario."

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