Forestry support for Labrador industry announced
An infrastructure investment of $970,000 to expand business opportunities associated with the forestry industry was announced October 23. Approval was given for construction of four kilometres of new forest access road and upgrading of 15 kilometres of existing access roads in and around Port Hope Simpson. The improved infrastructure will increase the profitability of existing commercial timber operators and increase prospects for new value-added activities. Road upgrading and construction will also occur in the Grand Lake Region of Central Labrador.
The announcement was made by Lawrence O'Brien, M.P. for Labrador, on behalf of Fred Mifflin, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Secretary of State for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), and Kevin Aylward, Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods, on behalf of Beaton Tulk, Minister of Development and Rural Renewal.
"The strength of Labrador rests with its people and its natural resources. Today's announcement is an effort to bring these two strengths closer together," said Mr. Mifflin. "Labrador's forest reserves will be a great contributor to our future. Employment levels in this sector are expected to increase significantly in the next few years. This forestry support program is the beginning of this period of growth in this industry in Labrador."
There are currently 70-90 people employed in the forestry sector in Labrador. Providing access to more stands of timber in the Port Hope Simpson area will allow the use of efficient new forestry technologies including, in time, the development of integrated sawmills which will allow operators to upgrade skills and update harvesting techniques. The number of industry participants and new employees is expected to increase significantly in coming years as a result of this investment.
"This is a very positive initiative," said Mr. Aylward. "The project is a result of follow-up work from the `Forestry of Our Future' conference held in Port Hope Simpson in April. Improved access to the resources was given the highest immediate priority by conference participants. The provincial government is living up to its commitment to make forestry development in this area a high priority because of its potential to create new employment and to contribute to the provincial economy. This is testimony to the province's growth agenda in action."
Mr. Aylward said he is pleased with this investment in the forest sector. The extension and upgrading of these resource roads will permit his department to initiate silviculture activities in these areas which will contribute to the sustainable management of the Labrador forest.
There has been an increase in forestry operations all along the Labrador coast in recent years, with private enterprise and local development groups taking an active approach to stimulating new economic opportunities for the region within the forestry sector. The long-term objective is not only to market Labrador pulp wood but also other lumber products.
This announcement was made under the Canada/Newfoundland Strategic Regional Diversification Agreement and the Canada/Newfoundland Comprehensive Labrador Development Agreement. The agreements are administered federally by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and provincially by the Department of Development and Rural Renewal.