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Moving the regional bioeconomy forward

kenshieldsSeptember 10, 2014, Thunder Bay, Ont. – It’s no accident that this week’s Canadian Bioenergy Association conference is being held in Thunder Bay.


September 10, 2014
By Andrew Macklin

kenshieldsSeptember 10, 2014, Thunder Bay, Ont. – It’s no accident
that this week’s Canadian Bioenergy Association conference is being held in
Thunder Bay.

 

This week has seen the opening of the OPG Bioenergy Learning
and Research Centre at Confederation College, OPG Thunder Bay has received its
first shipment of advanced biomass pellets, and the official ribbon cutting at
the OPG Atikokan biomass power plant.

 

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But this community, and this region for that matter, has
made a commitment to driving this industry forward in a region still reeling
from the recession that devastated the forest industry in northwestern Ontario.
The region has embraced the opportunities to rejuvenate the industry as a
result of focusing on the bioeconomy.

 

During the morning session on the first day of the CanBio
conference, Thunder Bay and the surrounding region took centre stage and
dignitaries and bio-industry professionals discussed the current and future of
the Canadian bioeconomy.

 

During the opening session Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Bill
Mauro, who is also the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, was on hand
to celebrate the long journey of growing the region’s bioeconomy to this point.
As was Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs, who declared the week of September 8-13
as Bioeconomy Week and September 9th as the first Bioeconomy Day.

 

The formal remarks from regional and conference dignitaries
were followed by a discussion focused on the bioeconomy horizon, looking at the
opportunities that lie ahead. The discussion involved provincial and federal
government officials, many of whom referred to the seeds that have been sewn by
early funding for bio initiatives, and the development of provincial and
national networks to help grow the industry.

 

Looking ahead, there was a clear understanding that
government policies and frameworks were necessary to push forward, with Pat
Guidera of Alberta Innovates mentioning that such information would be coming
forward in that province in the next few months. There was also a push for
greater communication and collaboration, both within the industry and with the
government.

 

“Government responds to those who respond to them,”
commented Bill Thornton, Assistant Deputy Minister for the Ontario Ministry of
Northern Development and Mines in response to a question about how to engage
other ministerial stakeholders affected by the bioeconomy.

 

Considering the industry and political champions that have
pushed the government to help create this regional bioeconomy, it seems Mr.
Thornton’s statement couldn’t be more accurate.


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