Canadian Biomass Magazine

Bioheat transformation in Fort Simpson, N.W.T., garners top 2024 Canadian Biomass Award

May 10, 2024
By Canadian Biomass Staff

In the small, remote village of Fort Simpson, nestled at the confluence of the McKenzie and Liard Rivers in the Northwest Territories, an innovative approach to sustainable energy has improved their infrastructure — and earned them national recognition.

The village was recently honored as the Winner of the 2024 Canadian Biomass Project of the Year, a testament to their efforts in integrating biomass heating systems into their community.

“Thank you to Canadian Biomass for recognizing the community of Fort Simpson,” said Mayor Sean Whelly in his acceptance speech. “We’re just a small community, but we’re certainly at the forefront of seeing climate change impact communities.”

Fort Simpson, population 1,200, has witnessed the harsh realities of climate change, underscored by severe wildfires in the surrounding regions, he said. This has resulted in a deeper commitment to environmental stewardship within the community.


“We recognize the importance of using alternative energy and not contributing to the carbon issue. We want to reduce our impact as much as possible,” Whelly said.

The award-winning project involved the installation of biomass heating systems in two of the village’s main municipal infrastructure buildings, including a swimming pool and fitness center, which were connected to a district biomass heating plant run by the territorial government. Additionally, an entirely new system was set up for their water treatment plant.

Whelly highlighted the collaborative efforts that made these initiatives possible, praising the Arctic Energy Alliance for their expertise.

“Because we are a small community… to gain the knowledge and the skills to be able to do this kind of project, we engaged quite a lot with Arctic Energy,” he said. The alliance assisted in hiring an energy champion and undertaking an energy plan, which were pivotal in seeing the project through to completion.

This transition to biomass heating is not only a step towards environmental conservation but also a cost-effective solution for the community, he said.

As Mayor Whelly pointed out, many communities in Canada are concerned with managing costs while setting a sustainable example.

“They’re very concerned with costs, and also leading by example, to show what can be done to assist in gaining energy efficiencies and lowering costs,” he said.

This article is part of the Bioheat Week 2023. Read more articles about bioheat in Canada.

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