Canadian Mass Timber to Make Vancouver Schools More Earthquake-Resistant 

News release

March 15, 2021                         Vancouver, British Columbia               Natural Resources Canada                 

Canada supports innovation in the forest sector through the green construction of low-rise non-residential wood buildings. Mass timber use in public buildings, such as schools, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, promotes innovation and supports local value-added manufacturing.

Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Seamus O’Regan Jr., today announced a $1,482,000 investment in British Columbia’s Vancouver School Board District #39. This investment will enable the construction of two local schools as part of recent seismic upgrades to make B.C. schools safer.

Bayview Elementary School and Sir Mathew Begbie Elementary School are part of a Vancouver School Board pilot project for future mass timber schools. The original structure of Bayview Elementary School was demolished, making way for a new school to be built over the existing footprint with a greater resistance against earthquakes. The building consists of two-storeys of classrooms and teaching areas, as well as a gymnasium and Neighbourhood Learning Centre.

Sir Mathew Begbie Elementary School will be a completely new, 34,000-square-foot modern design with open learning spaces. With the use of mass timber as the primary building material, the total carbon benefit is approximately 1,400 tonnes of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of removing hundreds of cars from the road for a year.

Funding for the project is provided through Natural Resources Canada’s Green Construction through Wood (GCWood) Program, which encourages the use of wood in non-traditional construction projects, such as tall wood buildings, low-rise non-residential buildings and bridges. The program aims to position Canada as a world leader in innovative wood construction technologies and the low-carbon economy.

Projects like this help Canada achieve its 2030 climate change goals by finding effective ways of building sustainably using Canadian wood products, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving seismic performance. 


“Wood is being used more and more in building bigger and taller buildings, and we’re leading the world at it. Creating new markets for Canadian timber supports our forestry workers, creates jobs and gets us to net-zero.”

The Honourable Seamus O’Regan Jr.
Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources 

“It’s great to see such innovative use of mass timber to design schools in our communities. By supporting greater use of sustainable, carbon-storing wood in construction, we’re protecting the planet and helping create jobs while supporting the competitiveness of the forest sector in Western Canada.”

The Honourable Joyce Murray
Minister of Digital Government 

“The Vancouver School Board is delighted to be partnering with Natural Resources Canada and the BC Ministry of Education in this exciting project, where two of our schools will be one of the first in Canada to use mass timber in their seismic replacement buildings. Incorporating this renewable, sustainable product supports the Board’s commitment to reduce its carbon footprint.”

Carmen Cho
Chair, Vancouver School Board

“Students and staff deserve to spend their days in schools that are built seismically safe with sustainable products. Our government acted fast to provide $46.9 million to replace these schools and give students a better place to go to learn. To see mass timber being used in construction is a very exciting development. This is an example of how we can work together to combat climate change and support B.C. mass timber technology while also providing the best possible learning environment for students.”

Jennifer Whiteside
British Columbia’s Minister of Education

“These two schools serve as a great example of the potential that can be realized with mass timber construction. In addition to meeting the demands of the seismic mitigation program, the timber framing systems used in these buildings provide warm, inviting spaces for the school community as well as help the school board meet their sustainability objectives.”

Nick Bevilacqua
Principal, Fast + Epp structural engineers

“We congratulate the Vancouver School Board for choosing to build these two schools out of innovative and technologically advanced wood building systems. In addition to achieving aesthetically pleasing and healthy learning environments, the use of wood will reduce carbon impacts, accelerate speed of construction and enhance building performance, which will help achieve sustainability goals as part of a positive paradigm shift in the way we build our schools in the future.”

Lynn Embury-Williams
Executive Director, Wood WORKS! BC

Associated links


Natural Resources Canada
Media Relations


Ian Cameron

Press Secretary

Office of the Minister of Natural Resources


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