B.C. prepares for new growth in mass timber construction

B.C. is planting seeds for the future of mass timber construction with new supports for trades workers. Officials announced additional funding for a new program designed to equip seasoned carpenters, ironworkers and builders with the skills they need to succeed on mass timber projects.

B.C. officials celebrate new funding for student supports at BCIT.

Anna Kang, B.C.’s minister of advanced education, announces new funding for tradespeople to gain mass timber construction skills.

Key Takeaways:

  • B.C. is boosting efforts to upskill workers for mass timber projects with $250,000 in funding for additional educational programming.
  • The province is also helping fund the school’s Tall Timber Student Housing Project which is being built at its Burnaby Campus.
  • Crews broke ground on the housing project in 2020.
  • The Province currently has spent $732 million to fund 10 projects that involve mass timber at post-secondary institutions throughout B.C.

The Whole Story: 

“We are investing in new post-secondary training for students to become leaders in mass timber construction, which will help people succeed and be future ready in a sector that is setting the example of how to build a better British Columbia for all,” said Anne Kang, minister of advanced education and skills training. “We’re also investing in student housing and projects that involve mass timber at post-secondary institutions, including providing $108.8 million toward BCIT’s new Tall Timber Student Housing, which is currently under construction.”

Logging On 

Kang recently visited the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) Applied Mass Timber Build open house, where she announced $250,000 in funding to support the development of additional programming. Officials noted the programming will build on the new construction of mass timber structures associate certificate.

“This program is a game changer for our construction industry and our growing mass timber sector here in B.C.,” said Ravi Kahlon, minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation. “This investment will help ensure B.C. has enough workers with the right skills to build our buildings of the future – providing clean, inclusive, sustainable economic development in every corner of the province.”

The associate certificate was designed as a part-time, blended six-month program. The certificate is delivered online and then culminates in a two-week practicum at the BCIT Burnaby campus, where students get hands-on installation experience with mass timber structures. Officials say a cohort of 12 to 24 students will begin their studies in January 2023.

New Growth

The province estimates that the growing mass timber sector could be a boon for the economy, supporting more than 4,000 jobs across B.C. in manufacturing, technology, forestry, design and engineering. By 2035 the sector is projected to be with a projected worth of $403 million.

“As the largest provider of trades training in Western Canada, it’s critical that BCIT is delivering relevant, hands-on training to help learners master in-demand skills, while contributing toward an agile workforce with sustained and meaningful impact,” said Wayne Hand, dean, BCIT’s school of construction and the environment. “This investment from the Province of British Columbia allows more trades professionals in upskilling to advance mass timber innovation, clean-energy solutions, as well as the economic prosperity of B.C.”

Carrying the load

Mass timber products have been found to be useful as solid, structural load-bearing components, such as columns, beams and panels used to construct residential, commercial and industrial buildings. Recent years have seen landmark mass timber projects, like Brock Commons, an 18-storey mass timber structure used as housing for students at University of British Columbia. 

“The BCIT introductory studies in mass timber construction micro-credential provided me with practical, industry-focused competencies to drive innovation in the growing field of mass timber,” said Mike Metcalfe, foreman for Seagate Mass Timber. “An expansion-education program, such as the construction of mass timber structures associate certificate, which I’m completing, will increase accessibility for professionals across sectors to be job ready in supporting new opportunities and demands of the workforce.”


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