THUNDER BAY, ON ---- March 25, 2010 ------ In less than one week, after almost two years of back and forth with the province, the forest industry in Ontario will be meeting a deadline to submit applications for the 11 million cubic metres of newly available wood fibre. By midnight March 31st, requests for this fibre must be submitted.
This is not a small task and the rules and procedures to submit a proper request has been revised four times already. Revision # 4 came out yesterday only one week prior to the submission deadline!
The wood in question is not really new wood, it’s like the used car jargon; it’s new to you! This wood is being made available by the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry (MNDM&F), (this is one time acronyms are helpful).
This wood is wood that previous Forest Managers, primarily represented by large mill owners failed to utilize over the years, and the province realized after considerable requests, and rightfully so, that this wood can create new opportunities, IF it is going to really be granted to new opportunities.
Michael Gravelle, the Minister of the MNDM&F stated previously that tough decisions will be made, and if this is conducted correctly, new players will emerge as the new employment generators in northern Ontario. I say IF, because there will no doubt be a push from the large mills to tie this wood –up, like they have in the past. This has resulted in wood being removed from the backyards of our communities and shipped elsewhere and the community only saw harvesting jobs created and in some instances from non-community residents. The opportunity for these new ventures will only occur if the wood that surrounds our communities stays in our communities.
I am familiar with a number of these potential new ventures requesting wood that will create new jobs, from wood surrounding their respective communities. The job potential of these new ventures that I am aware of is between 600-1000 jobs. There are others that will surface. Can you imagine what these jobs will do for our communities? This is only the direct manufacturing jobs, and the harvesting and trucking jobs alone can almost double this number. The other spin-off jobs generated makes this opportunity a real economic boost for northern Ontario, if it is done right.
The ventures I speak of are targeting value-added forest products. Value-added forest products generate the maximum number of jobs, and this is another mandate of the province, generating maximum employment from this newly available wood. It is the right thing to do at the right time, and again I commend Mr. Gravelle and his staff’s initiatives.
I am impressed with the direction we are heading in our forests, and I want to encourage our provincial representatives to stick to their plans to make this newly available wood, available to new ventures that will bring prosperity back to our communities. This wood must be given first to the ventures that will bring new employment to our communities.
I am hopeful that over the coming months as the MNDM&F sort through all the requests that this demand is a cornerstone of their decisions. All the communities that have this wood in their backyards are counting on this real opportunity.