In 2009, Pioneer Biomass Inc. invested $3,625,458 to expand operations in Williams Lake and the Cariboo region, creating 8 new jobs that were supported through an $80,000 training incentive from the Capital Investment and Training Rebate. This has been a funding partnership of Pioneer Biomass Inc. and Northern Development
The Pioneer Family Timber Partnership is a family owned business, headquartered in Williams Lake, that includes log homes, land development, logging, trucking and forest management. The company started a new wood fibre production and supply business, Pioneer Biomass, in order to focus on increasing the utilization of logging residuals as well as primary log breakdown and log exports.
The company operates two custom-built horizontal grinders with support equipment to produce wood fibre that is sold for pellet production and hog fuel biomass for co-generation plants in the Cariboo region. Capitalizing on current trends, a special emphasis is placed on utilizing Mountain Pine Beetle affected logging waste that would normally be burned on site. During the first phase of the company’s startup, it was grinding approximately 40 loads/day with a goal of 500,000 cubic metres within the next year of its operations.
Capital Power Corporation and Pinnacle Pellet Incorporated are the largest users of wood fibre in Pioneer Biomass’ British Columbia operating area and the company states that it is currently the sole residual fibre provider to both. Traditionally, both Capital Power and Pinnacle Pellet depended primarily on mill residuals for their fibre needs. To ensure they do not operate without sufficient fibre should additional mill curtailments occur, Pioneer Biomass is utilizing grinders which generate over 2,000 Green Metric Tons daily to meet demand.
This project has also been supported by Northern Development in partnership with the Government of Canada through the Community Adjustment Fund:
"Northern Development clearly recognizes the challenges facing businesses who are looking to hire and train new workers with their Capital Investment and Training Rebate program. This funding plays an important role in our ability to move forward with this project."Marcel Therrien, Director, Pioneer Biomass
"The new forest sector jobs created through the start-up of Pioneer Biomass are exciting news for Williams Lake and the central Cariboo region."Al Richmond, Chair, Cariboo Regional District
The Cariboo-Chilcotin Region is home to a large labour pool of unemployed forestry workers. Through the start-up of Pioneer Biomass, eight new forestry jobs were created and received training incentive support from Northern Development. After a local forestry company went bankrupt in 2009, one hundred employees were laid off, with the economy of Williams Lake and the Cariboo-Chilcotin region feeling the impacts. The start-up of this new company during the economic downturn was seen as a cause for celebration by community leaders and a sign of optimistic times ahead for families and forestry workers.
In addition to the creation of jobs, Pioneer Biomass continues to support the economy by providing Pinnacle Pellet and Capital Power with biomass fibre. Prior to the opening of Pioneer Biomass, both operations were in need of fibre to supplement reduced deliveries from their traditional fibre sources, local sawmills. In the future, Pioneer Family Timber Partnership plans to expand further to process biomass into a value-added product geared to Asian markets. This expansion will lead to further job creation, and will help to grow and sustain the economy of Williams Lake. By supporting development of a local biomass industry, the community of Williams Lake is moving forward to diversify its economy and overcome the challenges that are being faced throughout British Columbia's forest industry, particularly in the Mountain Pine Beetle affected regions of the province.