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This Coquitlam neighbourhood is home to the city's first mass timber community

Mass timber construction is the newest form of housing coming to Coquitlam. Homes are selling from as low as $550,000 for a one-bedroom townhome, with a private outdoor entry.

Coquitlam is an early adopter of mass timber construction, and developers are taking note.

More than 600 units of condos and rental apartments are planned or being built using mass timber, including a 12-storey tower in northwest Coquitlam.

All are located within a few blocks of the Burquitlam SkyTrain station.

Considered a sustainable material because it sequesters carbon instead of creating pollution — as is the case with concrete — and even the B.C. government has a plan to promote mass timber construction.

So, what is mass timber construction?

Buildings made from engineered mass timber products are put together almost like Lego.

Panels and beams made of glued or fastened layers of wood are trucked to the construction site and craned into place, joined together by carpentry crews.

In Coquitlam, Adera Development has plans to build 500 homes out of mass timber as it stakes its claim on the sustainable building material.

COO Rocky Sethi said the homes use a SmartWood technology, which is rated for noise dampening, and homes are designed to include private and communal outdoor spaces, such as massive rooftop decks, for people who want "healthier living" options.

Additional benefits to mass timber, said Sethi, is that it is less expensive than concrete and faster to build than typical framing.

He adds it causes less disruption because fewer workers are needed to construct a building and creates less waste as panels are pre-fabricated off site.

Mass timber townhouses on the market

Today, buyers are snapping up one- and two-bedroom units at Adera's recently completed Duet City Homes (708 Lea Ave.), a stacked townhouse project with 60 units.

The homes are selling from between $550,000 for a 486 sq-ft. one-bedroom suite, with a private outdoor entry, and $899,900 for a two-bedroom with a 400 sq-ft. deck, according to recent listings.

All units have front doors opening outside, private outdoor spaces and nooks with trees, plantings and playgrounds to add nature and play opportunities for young families.

"It's an urban response to where we're at," said Sethi at a media launch. "It's a denser form that offers livability."

Three other Adera mass timber projects include:

  • Duet Flats (707 Como Lake Ave.), already completed with 72 apartment units
  • RED Como Lake (717 Como Lake Ave.), currently under construction offering 59 rental apartments in studio to three bedroom units
  • SoL and RED SoL (south side of Como Lake Avenue at Robinson Street), still in the municipal planning stages and set to offer 201 units in two buildings
    • Including 92 market apartment units and 109 rental apartments

Meanwhile, WG Architecture is planning a 12-storey tower and a six-storey mid-rise apartment with a mix of 200 market and below market rental units.

This mass timber development is proposed for 820/826 Dogwood St. and 615/633 Lea Ave, according to the city.

Developers slow to adopt mass timber construction

Taller buildings are preferred for mass timber because they make the most of the product's strength while producing fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

However, developers prefer to build concrete towers in areas that permit high rise zoning or six-storey conventional stick-frame buildings in lower density areas.

To try to counter the trend, the city has developed interim measures that provide flexibility, encouraging 12-storey mass timber buildings in suitable areas, such in shoulder areas that abut higher density neighbourhoods, according to a city report.

On Tuesday (June 14), Coquitlam council viewed the new stacked Duet City townhouse development to see the benefits of cross laminated wood construction in a stacked townhouse form.

Stacked townhouses are preferred for people who want a private entrance to the street and Duet City is being dubbed as a solution to "missing middle" housing.

"We're excited to see this innovation in Coquitlam," said Mayor Richard Stewart.