May 4, 2011
*An edit was made to this post (at 1:10pm eastern) clarifying that the building in question was under construction when the fire started
Last night a massive fire destroyed a wood-framed six-storey condominium under construction in Richmond, BC. The condominium, which we told you about in March, was to be the first development to take advantage of a controversial change in British Columbia’s building code that allowed higher buildings to be framed with wood.
Media outlets in BC have not reported any injuries.
The building code changes were made to align with a 2009 piece of provincial legislation called the Wood First Act which requires wood to be considered as the primary building material in all new publicly funded buildings. The building in question, known as Remy, was to include affordable housing units for seniors that were paid for, in part, by the province and by the feds.
|‘Remy’ burns last night in Richmond, BC – Courtesy of the Vancouver Sun|
Former-Premier Gordon Campbell was reportedly on hand for the building’s groundbreaking ceremony in June of 2010. According to the Vancouver Sun, Campbell noted at the time that the new building code came with strengthened fire safety standards.
As the cause of the fire has not yet been determined, there’s no proof that even a building with a concrete frame would have resisted this particular fire, though perhaps in a conventional building the blaze would not have spread quite so quickly. In any event, it’s safe to say that the debate about the building code changes is about to get a whole lot more intense.