Fort St. James Is Developing a World-Class Integrated Forestry Hub

In 2009, District of Fort St. James received a $20,000 grant from Northern Development towards this $40,000 project. This has been a funding partnership of District of Fort St. James, Northern Development, Apollo Forest Products Ltd., Conifex Timber Inc., KDL Group, and Takla Lake First Nation

2012-Fort St James is located on the shores of Stuart Lake amidst a vast area of forested wilderness in northern British Columbia. The community was originally established by the explorer Simon Fraser for the North West Company in 1806, is one of British Columbia’s oldest permanent settlements with a wealth of natural resources surrounding community.

In 2009, the District of Fort St. James partnered with Conifex Timber, Apollo Forest Products, KDL Group, and the Takla Lake First Nation to undertake a comprehensive industry attraction initiative with funding from Northern Development. This strong partnership of the local government, First Nations, and private industry is focused on working together to attract investment to the community in order to establish Fort St. James as a world-class integrated forestry hub. The attacks of the Mountain Pine Beetle have left the region with significant amounts of forest where the available fibre cannot be utilized for traditional lumber production, but is ideally suited for wood pellet manufacturing, bioenergy production, and other biomass manufacturing alternatives.

The results of the study indicated that Fort St. James and its surrounding region are well-positioned to develop new forest-based industries in order to become a world-class integrated forestry hub. As the study notes, Fort St. James has the infrastructure, with two world-class sawmills operating at full production within the community, and the availability of economically sourced biomass to support both an independent power facility and a pellet manufacturing facility. The infrastructure, timber harvesting industry, and availability of a large biomass tenure based on the vast areas of Mountain Pine Beetle affected pine stands can provide potential new manufacturers with a large volume of biomass that can be sourced at some of the most competitive rates found anywhere in the world.

"This report has given Fort St. James a strong tool in diversifying our already vibrant forestry sector. Through building relationships with potential industry developers we are making strides towards the development of Fort St. James, not only as a world-class forestry hub, but also one which is environmentally and economically progressive. Additionally Northern Development has given us the opportunity through this project to enhance partnerships with our local forest product companies including Conifex Timber Inc, Takla Lake First Nation, KDL Group and Apollo Forest Products Ltd."

Emily Colombo, Economic Development Officer, Fort St. James

Positive Economic Impacts in Fort St. James

The study notes that there is currently an excess of unused biomass in the region that is suitable for additional bioenergy or biofuel production in the Fort St. James region. Attraction of biomass industries to invest in Fort St. James will allow existing forest product manufacturers to supplement their current operations through a more efficient utilization of the forest resource. Investments in bioenergy in the region would provide existing forest products companies with additional local high volume consumers of biomass that cannot currently be utilized locally.

Additionally, developing Fort St. James' local and sustainable forest-based manufacturing industry will result in creating significant direct employment opportunities within the manufacturing sector and in fibre procurement. The attraction of investment in a locally operated wood pellet manufacturing and/or bioenergy facility in the region will greatly increase the District of Fort St. James' industrial tax base which will enable the municipality to provide its residents with additional services that improve the already tremendous quality of life this beautiful lakeside community has to offer.

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