Major Excitement as Whitesand FN to Develop Industrial Park

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Whitesand Chief and Council with Patty Hajdu and Michael Gravelle
Whitesand Chief and Council with Patty Hajdu and Michael Gravelle
Whitesand Chief and Council with Patty Hajdu and Michael Gravelle
Whitesand Chief and Council with Patty Hajdu and Michael Gravelle

THUNDER BAY – 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.

The project has been a long time coming, the original idea started in 1992. There has been a lot of visionary and hard work to get to this stage with this project. The goal is simply to build capacity in the community and to create opportunity and employment. In addition, the goal is demonstrating as MP Patty Hajdu put it, moving past poverty.

The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, and Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay—Superior North, made the announcement today 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 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.

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 kilometre south of the Town of Armstrong.

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 Government of Canada is proud to invest in strategic initiatives that fuel the economy and accelerate growth in Northern Ontario’s Indigenous communities. Today’s announcement will help usher in a new era of economic development, energy self-sufficiency and environmental stewardship for the people of the Whitesand First Nation,” states Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and Minister responsible for FedNor

“Today’s announcement demonstrates what can be achieved when First Nations and federal and provincial partners work together. The Industrial Park sets the stage for future businesses and economic growth, and the Biomass Plant will create an alternate source of clean energy that will eliminate reliance on diesel. This is great news for Whitesand First Nation, the town of Armstrong and for the environment as a whole,” shared 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. 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,” says Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, and Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Superior North.

“With this NOHFC investment, Ontario is supporting the development of the Whitesand First Nation Industrial Park site and future forest biomass facilities. Through the NOHFC, Ontario is investing in infrastructure that will advance economic development and increase opportunity and fairness for the community’s residents,” comments Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Chair of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC).

“Whitesand First Nation is proud to partner with the Governments of Canada and Ontario to make this game-changing, generational project a reality. 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,” said Chief Gustafson, Whitesand First Nation.

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