A new government program introduced last week will inject money into Atlantic Canada’s forestry sector in an attempt to diversify the region’s struggling industry.
The initiative sees the Maritime Lumber Bureau partnering with the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador to invest in a program called Atlantic WoodWorks. According to an article published in the Amherst Daily News, the program is “a market diversification initiative focused on increased wood consumption in non-residential buildings across the region.”
The program is an extension of a national program headed by the Canadian Wood Council.
“We continue to invest in industry and initiatives that will make Canadian forest products even more attractive in the global market place,” said ACOA Minister Bernard Valcourt. “With this investment, we are helping the forestry industry in Atlantic Canada to meet its market challenges and pursue strategic opportunities for growth through training, education and innovation.”
The program is a good step forward for the forest industry in the Maritimes, said Glen Warman, the vice-president of Marwood Ltd. in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
“There’s a lot of opportunities for wood products within Atlantic Canada and within North America,” Warman told the Chronicle Herald. “This will allow us to be able to prosper (and) it will allow us to be able to benefit from the local region.”
The need to diversify the sector in the Atlantic provinces was brought to the fore after two prominent paper mills in the region closed their doors in a two-month span.
“Atlantic Canada is second only to British Columbia in its dependency on the forest sector,” said Diana Blinkhorn of the Maritime Lumber Bureau. “(So) we are focusing on utilizing locally produced material in a much expanded way.”
The Atlantic WoodWorks program is receiving $500,000 over two years through the federal business development program while the three provinces are contributing $134,000 and the Canadian Wood Council $159,000.
The forestry sector contributed $1.9 billion to the Atlantic economy in 2010 and employed close to 21,000. It also exported close to $2.6 billion in products, according to the Amherst Daily News.
Amherst Daily News: “Help On The Way For Forestry Industry”
Metro News: “ACOA to Announce Forestry Initiative”
The Chronicle-Herald: “Atlantic-Based Program to Tout Non-Residential Building Projects”