BY BILL PHILLIPS
Federal natural resources minister Jim Carr brought Ottawa’s chequebook to the BC Natural Resources Forum in Prince George Wednesday.
The minister announced $6.45 million for six projects in northern B.C. that focus on innovation in the forest sector.
“Our government believes in the forest industry,” Carr said. “We have a clear vision of it playing a central role in some of the most important issues of our time … combating climate change, driving innovation and creating economic opportunity for rural and indigenous communities.”
The funding comes through the Investments in Canada’s Forest Industry Transformation (IFIT) program and the Indigenous Forestry Initiative (IFI) through the Strategic Partnerships Initiative for Indigenous Economic Development.
Pacific Bioenergy in Prince George will receive almost half of the funding. It will receive $3.19 million in funding to implement a biomass enhancement system, which will allow for the use of diverse sources of biomass, including underutilized forest residuals to produce wood pellets.
“Pacific Bioenery has struggled for a number of years to secure a fibre basket to support its pellet operation,” said Paul Kalil, vice-president of capital projects for Pacific Bioenergy. “Over the years we’ve realized that we could fibre that has been burned by finding way to clean that fibre.”
It took some time to develop the technology to do that.
“What that has done has secured the future of this plant in Prince George, even with declining sawmill activity,” he said.
Gitxsan Development will receive $1.165 million to implement a series of scans and activities to lay the foundation for the Gitxsan people to participate in and benefit from major resource projects occurring within, and near, their territory.
“We’re focusing on complete utilization of our forest resources to create sustainable opportunities such as the creation of bio-heat,” Jako Krushnisky, senior vice president of Gitxsan Development Corporation. “We’ll heat the new upper Skeena ice complex in Hazelton.”
Other recipients of the funding are:
Structurecraft Builders Inc.: $1.93 million to implement a Dowel Laminated Timber production system at a newly constructed facility, which will house new machinery and associated storing and handling systems. This next-generation all-wood building product requires no nails or glue and will help fuel the rapidly growing demand for green construction.
The Tsay Keh Dene CHP Biomass Energy project: $25,000 to assess the feasibility of bioenergy to reduce the reliance of the Tsay Key Dene community on diesel fuel for heat. The community is considering an Organic Rankin Cycle biomass plant as its technology of choice, as this technology is able to use a variety of fuels available to the community.
The Kwadacha First Nation will receive a total of $143,000 for two projects: $98,000 to support a community combined heat and power bioenergy system. Using a sustainable supply of local forest biomass, this system will create employment, economic and social benefits, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. $45,000 to undertake a review and prepare a report of their experiences and lessons learned from a successful green-energy initiative in the community that uses local beetle-killed timber to fuel a bioenergy plant for the generation of electricity and heat.
“Today’s announcements are good news for workers in these communities,” said Carr. “They are good news for British Columbia and they are good news for an industry that is such a vital part of the Canadian economy.”