Ministry of Forests parliamentary secretary Ravi Kahlon was in Prince George on Wednesday to promote a mixture of new and ongoing projects to make better use of wood fibre that otherwise would have been burned as slash.
Standing in front of the Pacific BioEnergy plant on Willowcale Road, Kahlon said nearly $28 million in grants have been distributed to 38 projects through the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. (FESBC)
"This funding will allow recipients to increase their utilization of fibre that would have been burned as slash since it otherwise wouldn't have been economically viable to transport and transform this material into value-added products," Kahlon said.
"These projects will also help employ forest contractors, some of whom may otherwise be unemployed. In addition, they will also help employ mill workers who produce electricity, wood pellets, pulp mills that produce these products specifically."
The FESBC is a provincial Crown agency created in 2016 to administer a program aimed at wildfire risk reduction, reforestation, forest rehabilitation, wildlife habitat restoration and raising awareness of the FireSmart program.
Opposition forest critic John Rustad welcomed the news but added funding for the FESBC is running low.
"The B.C. Liberals put $235 million into FESBC," he said. "There is about $5 million left from that initial investment that we made...so it's good to see the work that FESBC is carrying on but it's concerning to see that this government refuses to put additional funding into FESBC."
Without additional funding, FESBC will close its doors in about two years, Rustad said.
Of the 38 projects, 27 were approved in September and the remainder in November 2018 but not yet announced. Seven are located in the Omineca and Cariboo forest districts with five approved in September:
- Mackenzie Pulp Mill Corp. will get $1 million to recover about 133,000 cubic metres of low-grade fibre and truck it to the East Fraser and Duz Cho chipping plants and then onto Mackenzie Pulp, creating nine full-time jobs in the process. The McLeod Lake Indian Band will be involved.
- Fort St. James Fuel Co. will get $500,000, to recover about 52,000 cubic from tenures in the Stuart Nechako Resource District for its Fort St. James Green Energy facility, creating four full-time jobs.
- Sasuchan Development Corp., operated by the Takla First Nation, will get $435,235 to supply Fort St. James Green Energy with 59,000 cubic metres and create four full-time jobs.
- Barkerville Historic Town and Park will get $160,000 to supply about 9,000 cubic metres to Cariboo Pulp and Paper for use as hog fuel.
- Canfor's Prince George Pulp and Paper will get $1.5 million to take out about 143,000 cubic metres from the Prince George area. Further details were not provided in the information packages handout out to local media, an apparent slip up by the FESBC.
The package includes two more projects approved in November 2018 but not yet announced:
- $1.5 million to Fort St. James Fuel Co. to supply its Fort St. James Green Energy plant, and create 13 jobs. The cubic metres of fibre was not provided.
- $555,255 to K&D Logging to supply the East Fraser Fibre chipping plant and create five jobs. The cubic metres of fibre was not provided.