Funding reinvigorates the Prince Albert Model Forest

Tyler
Tyler Clarke
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Operating under a scattering of contracts, the Prince Albert Model Forest’s future was left in the balance last year when federal funding ran dry.

 

Prince Albert Model Forest Association president Mark Johnston, centre, listens during a press conference on Tuesday recognizing a three-year, $1.1 million funding announcement. Pictured left is Carrot River Valley MLA Fred Bradshaw, and pictured right is L&M Wood Products owner Zane Delaney. 

Reinvigorated by a three-year $1.1-million funding announcement between the federal and provincial governments, its immediate future is no longer in question.

Following a press conference on Tuesday morning at the Prince Albert Forest Centre, Prince Albert Model Forest Association president Mark Johnston said that the new funding will bring a greater economic focus.

“It gives us some added resources to work with to try to increase the focus on skills training and market development,” he explained.

“We’ve been interested in that in the past but haven’t really had the resources to bring a lot of work to the table, but now we have that opportunity.”

Fed by the federal government, the Prince Albert Model Forest is a non-profit board of directors-led organization that formed in 1992 alongside several others throughout the nation.

Charged with building partnerships between various organizations at a grass-roots local level, model forests “deal with forest management and associated issues -- economic development in the forest industry and so forth,” he explained.

After funding capped off last year, the organization continued with a handful of contract-specific projects.

“We could have certainly existed for another year or two without this project, but this changes the game complete,” he said. “This really gives us a wide variety of projects to work on, and some assured funding, which is really important to us.”

Through the Prince Albert Model Forest’s new funding pool, FP Innovations will help provide training and guidance to Northern Saskatchewan forestry companies, with a special focus on First Nations and Métis-owned companies.

During his remarks, Carrot River Valley MLA Fred Bradshaw noted that the new funding is in keeping with the government’s goal of “strengthening the competitiveness of this province’s forestry sector.”

Johnston said that it’s hard to saw whether the Prince Albert Model Forest’s new contract will have any impact on the Prince Albert Pulp Mill.

At this point, the mill is strictly focused on power generation.

At last update in December, the Prince Albert Pulp Mill hit a roadblock in its efforts to produce dissolved pulp products, with China announcing duties to the tune of 50 per cent.

They’re now switching gars to fluff pulp product, with Paper Excellence vice president of operations Dale Paterson estimating that the mill would be running “within 18 months,” bringing it to August, 2015.

The Prince Albert Model Forest was lucky to have received the $1.1 million in government funding, Johnston said, noting that a handful of similar organizations across the nation have had to close down after last year’s federal funding close. 

Organizations: Prince Albert, Prince Albert Model Forest Association, Fed First Nations

Geographic location: Northern Saskatchewan, China

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