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Province prepared to fund biomass innovation

Ontario government unveils Forest Biomass Program with a $19-million funding stream
(Photo by Ian Ross/Northern Ontario Business)

There’s untapped economic potential with woody forest waste.

That’s nothing new considering the abundance of biomass in Northern Ontario has been talked about for years but seldom acted upon in realizing its socio-economic potential.

The provincial government wants Ontario to be a biomass leader and is launching a $19.6-million Forest Biomass Program to promote innovation in the forest sector. Biomass is an element of the government’s Forest Sector Strategy released in 2020.

According to a government news release, for years, industry, Indigenous communities and the public have indicated the need for "targeted support" to develop this underutilized sector to develop a forest bioeconomy in Ontario.   

This new application-based program is aimed at promoting technological innovation and finding new uses of wood harvested from Crown forests and mill by-products that creates more jobs and results in more industry partnership, including with Indigenous communities.

The program will be open to applications for Ontario-located businesses, municipalities, Indigenous communities and not-for-profit organizations with a project in mind that will expand the use of forest biomass and enhance the forest biomass supply chain.

The program involves four streams. 

  • Indigenous Bioeconomy Partnerships, to increase Indigenous participation in forest biomass opportunities and their economic benefits.
  • Exploring Biomass Pathways, to help the public and private sector research technical, financial and scientific aspects of using forest biomass.
  • Innovative Bioproduct Manufacturing, to increase the use of forest biomass in manufacturing, infrastructure, energy services and resource extraction.
  • Modernization, to support forest sector transformation, competitiveness and participation through use of forest biomass.

Applications for the program will taken starting June 19 and continue until Sept. 29 or until all the program funding is exhausted.

In a news release, National Resources and Forestry Minister Graydon Smith calls this “good news” for the industry, its workers, communities and the environment.

“Our government’s Forest Biomass Program will help create jobs, build local prosperity and enhance the sustainable practices essential to forest product operations.”

Forestry is a major economic driver in northwestern Ontario, said Thunder Bay- Atikokan MPP Kevin Holland, and the Forest Biomass Program will strengthen the industry.

“I am confident this program will enhance existing use of resources, promote research, and increase Indigenous economic prosperity across the region.”

"Increased use of biomass will assist Ontario's transition to a net-zero economy, reduce pressure on landfills, support the
ongoing sustainable management of Ontario's public forests, improve industry competitiveness, and strengthen the
circular bioeconomy," added Ian Dunn, president-CEO of the Ontario Forest Industries Association.