Every industry's natural state of growth is influenced, if not artificially molded, by politicking, and the steel industry is no exception. As a company that uses steel for everything, we make it our business to know what's going on in the larger steel industry, both nationally and globally. On both a provincial and federal level, we've discovered some disturbing moves that merit at least a mention:
Two proposed Ontario building code bills (and other prior bills at the federal level) Bill 61: “An Act to enact the Ontario’s Wood First Act, 2012 and to amend the Building Code Act, 1992” and Bill 13: “Ontario Forestry Industry Revitalization Act” would "legislate a preference for the use of wood in the construction of provincially-funded buildings of up to six stories, and change building codes as necessary to do so." (Please see blog entry by CSPA). Obviously steel is the sounder structural material, so for the government to legislate a preference for structural wood usage is a clear attempt at boosting the timber industry.
Booooooo, on many levels. Not only is steel generally a far superior material for structural applications, but from a sustainability perspective it can be argued that using steel for buildings and structures is environmentally friendlier. This comment alone merits further discussion (and likely even debate!), and while we won't do that here, it is our meager, biased and skewed position at Hogtown (yes, we are steel advocates!) that the steel industry generally supports measures to ensure sustainable practices within the industry (though admittedly there is much room for improvement), and should therefore be supported by government agencies.
As far as these proposed building code changes are concerned, we are against them. The Canadian Steel Producers Association (CSPA) sums up the position we support beautifully:
- Building codes must set standards through a science-based, objective and transparent process, with rigorous evaluation of acceptable materials for any particular use
- Building professionals, including fire safety experts, should determine which materials are safe and appropriate for any given type of structure
- Providing an artificial benefit to any one material can only reduce value for money in construction projects, a cost that Ontario’s legislature should not impose
- Artificial preferences to protect jobs in one industry should not be at the expense of jobs in other sectors