Whitesand First Nation biomass project gets funding boost
Oct. 23, 2017 - The Northwestern Ontario Indigenous community of Whitesand First Nation will develop an industrial park to support new biomass and wood processing facilities thanks to a Government of Canada investment of $2.81 million and a Government of Ontario investment of $949,539.
Once completed, this innovative and environmentally responsible industrial development project will attract new business and provide meaningful year-round employment opportunities for community members and those in surrounding far northern communities. The first tenants of the industrial park will be the community-owned and operated Sagatay Cogeneration LP and Sagatay Wood Pellets LP. Under Sagatay, Whitesand First Nation has negotiated a 20-year renewable agreement for electrical generation to ensure a guaranteed revenue stream and the sustainability of the industrial park project. The new park, offering fully serviced land for lease, will be located on Highway 527, approximately one kilometer south of the Town of Armstrong.
“Whitesand First Nation is proud to partner with the Governments of Canada and Ontario to make this game-changing, generational project a reality,” Chief and Council, Whitesand First Nation, said in a news release. “We have been pursuing this complex development for many, many years and we could not be happier to finally see it moving from development towards construction and implementation. The industrial park will be known as the Bio-Energy Centre and will provide a home for our biomass co-generation facility, wood pellet plant and wood merchandising yard. Whitesand First Nation will capitalize on the new low carbon economy to create meaningful employment, while respecting the environment and providing clean, renewable power.”
Today’s announcement is an example of how Government of Canada departments can work collaboratively with all partners to support community prosperity. Through its Community Opportunity Readiness Program, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada has provided $1.8 million to support this initiative, which will promote economic reconciliation by supporting a strong socio-economic future for Whitesand First Nation, creating meaningful employment, and building a robust local economy. FedNor’s investment of $949,539 is provided through its Northern Ontario Development Program, while the provincial investment of $949,539 is provided through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation.
This funding complements previous Government of Canada support of $1.1 million provided by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) under its Indigenous Forestry Initiative through the federal Strategic Partnerships Initiative. This funding supported project planning and pre-development, and the negotiations for the power purchase agreement, which will allow the community to secure capital financing and loan guarantees to advance the development of the new biomass and wood processing facilities.
“The funding announced today will empower the Whitesand First Nation to take charge of its economic future, create meaningful employment, and support a strong, sustainable local economy. In addition to eliminating their reliance on diesel power, this project will provide opportunities for business development and growth previously unavailable to the community, and will offer residents good jobs in many sectors including forestry, plant operation and silviculture,” Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, said in the release.