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Multi-million dollar investment for biomass project

Whitesand First Nation receiving funding to develop industrial park
Biomass Collection 1
Whitesand First Nation is receiving significant funding from both the Ontario Government and Federal Government to help develop biomass wood processing facilities on the reserve to attract new business and create job opportunities, as well as a green source of energy. file photo

A First Nation in Northwestern Ontario is receiving a significant investment from the federal government to help fund a green energy project

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.

The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, and Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay – Superior North, made the announcement Oct. 20 on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for FedNor, and the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services.

“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,” she said in a news release. “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.”

The Honourable Michael Gravelle, Ontario's Minister of Northern Development and Mines and Chair of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) made the announcement on behalf of the Province of Ontario.

“With this NOHFC investment, Ontario is supporting the development of the Whitesand First Nation Industrial Park site and future forest bio-mass facilities. Through the NOHFC, Ontario is investing in infrastructure that will advance economic development and increase opportunity and fairness for the community’s residents,” he said.

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.

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.