CONSTRUCTION is set to start by early spring on a hotel which could very well be the tallest wooden structure ever built here.
To be erected on the vacant property just west of Kalum Tire on Hwy16, this latest addition to the northwest B.C. chain of Sunshine Inns will have five storeys above ground framed with timber.
The provincial building code was changed in 2009 to allow wooden structures to be six storeys tall.
And there’s never been a wooden frame building in Terrace over four storeys tall, city planner David Block told city councillors at a January meeting.
Sunshine Inn developer Kim Tran, who travelled as far as Florida to come up with design ideas, said several reasons prompted his decision to go with a wood structure.
“The number one reason is we don’t have the tradesmen for a non-combustible project that can do the job here in Terrace. I would have to bring someone from Vancouver,” said Tran. “So it’s not a very economical way to build, and all my employees are familiar with working with wood for many years.”
In addition to having tradespeople more familiar with the material, Tran said wood is easier to work with than steel and fits with his Canadian inclinations.
“We are living in the country where wood seems to be very popular and anything that I can do to support local forestry I would like to do,” said Tran.
Aside from framing, Tran is also considering timber add-ons to the interior design of his hotel.
The height of the structure, which will be 19 metres after Tran received permits for his design, did peak interest among some council members.
“It appears from the plan that it is innovative,” said councillor Brian Downie. “We are going to want to get lots of pictures as it is getting built because it’s something that the BC Wood Council will want.”
The development plan shares some similarities with the provincially funded $21.5 million Wood Innovation Design Centre currently being built in downtown Prince George. That project’s aim is to showcase wood innovation in the north. It is a 29-metre high structure and will house research space and UNBC classrooms, located across from the Ramada Inn.
The wooden structure means Tran has to have an approved fire safety plan and Downie said he was satisfied with the one put in place by fire chief John Klie.
“I think that’s a really good step and should resolve issues as it goes along,” said Downie.
Block said there is always a concern about fire during the construction phase.
He did add that concrete floor slabs will help mitigate risk during construction.
One change that will be coming at the back end of the property, which fronts onto Lazelle Ave. beside the bowling alley is the removal of trees now there.
Councillor Lynne Christiansen had wondered if the trees could be incorporated into a landscaping plan.
But Block told her there wasn’t any room to preserve the trees.