Ontario’s Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry (MNDNRF), Greg Rickford, was in town Friday, March 25, to announce funding of $460K through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) to two West Nipissing businesses. Sturgeon Falls Brush and Contracting (SFBC) received $400K to purchase new equipment to assist in diversifying their operations, while Best Blasting Mats received $61,333 to upgrade its facility and purchase new equipment to introduce three new product lines.
The announcement was made at the headquarters of Sturgeon Falls Brush and Contracting in Sturgeon Falls, with general manager Monique Robitaille welcoming everyone. “As a small forestry and harvesting sector, we are proud to have such recognition… We decided to fill out an NOHFC application to help finance the newer equipment to be more efficient at what we do best.” She noted that the new efficiencies will reduce fuel consumption and help maintain a viable operation. SFBC specializes in land clearing.
President André Larcher, who represents the third generation in the family business, thanked Minister Rickford and the NOHFC for “believing in our goals and direction”, helping in “replacing the older equipment with state-of-the-art technologies which will allow us to become environmentally friendly, efficient, competitive, but most of all safe. We will save half a million dollars annually and our operations of harvesting will be able to do 70,000 cubic metres of sustainable forest per year.” He also hinted that further news is coming in the near future.
Minister Rickford, who hails from Kenora-Rainy River, took the opportunity to introduce William Foy, PC candidate for Timiskaming-Cochrane, and proceeded to describe his party’s vision for the economy of northern Ontario. “Of the 3 biggest expansion areas in Ontario, top three are in northern Ontario – Claybelt included… 13 million people in 200,000 square km of land in the province depend on 1 million of us in 800,000 kilometres in the great republic of northern Ontario: forestry, mining or agriculture… We have been in such an extraordinary opportunity to be integrated into the southern Ontario supply chain.”
He spoke to the party’s market development strategy; “From exploration to electric energies and everything in between, northern Ontario is going to move beyond resource extraction activities.” Rickford noted that the global strife in Ukraine is having impact and does hold opportunity for this area to play an important role. “Nobody is going to be buying birch hardwood plywood from Russia, so Cochrane is in an enviable position. It’s unfortunate that what is going on in Ukraine is bringing this to light.” He said that many jurisdictions, including the USA, are looking towards northern Ontario to fulfill their needs.