Local company partners with first nation to capitalize on renewable energy projects

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Spring Home Guide ​2019

It was a good move for both parties when Sturgeon Brush and Magnetawan First Nation concluded their contract with a handshake. Standing behind Magnetawan FN Chief Lloyd Mike and Gerry Larcher, president of Sturgeon Falls Brush, are Deputy Chief Samantha Noganosh, SFB Project Manager André Larcher, SFB General Manager Monique Robitaille and MFN Councillor William Diabo. The contract has beeen successfully concluded and Sturgeon Falls Brush is looking forward to further similar partnerships.

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Les Filles d’Isabelle à Sturgeon Falls : 75 ans d’Unité, Amitié, Charité

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by Isabel Mosseler

Sturgeon Falls Brush and Contracting out of Sturgeon Falls has been busy securing business across the province, in part by building partnerships with First Nation communities that are working in the energy sector to deliver hydro to southern markets. Jean-Pierre “JP” Martin, the company’s Senior Advisor, recently revealed one of their success stories, an agreement with Magnetawan First Nation which will hopefully open up more opportunities for both parties.

While the company is locally well known for the field work doing brushing and clearing, they have also been making a name for themselves clearing land for utility right-of-ways, road building and forestry, and for training and employing a crew of experienced talent. 

In providing some background context, Martin explains that there is insufficient infrastructure to deliver all the energy being produced in northern Ontario to the south. This area has seen a boom in solar installations over recent years, as the area around the Sudbury region is referred to as the “sunshine capital” of Ontario. Many installations have been constructed under the FIT (Feed-In Tarriff) program, started in 2009 to encourage and promote greater use of renewable energy sources, including on-shore wind, solar photovoltaic (PV), bioenergy (biomass, biogas and landfill gas) and hydroelectricity for electricity generating projects in Ontario. The problem, as Martin explains, is that there is not enough room on the existing lines to transport the produced energy to the markets, and consequently an opportunity arose to involve First Nations in creating those corridors to build the infrastructure necessary.

“What [Premier Ford] has been doing is cancelling generation projects, with the focus now on transmission rather than generation. There are opportunities for the private sector… It was a big problem the way Ontario had concentrated on generation and not distribution. Now more companies are coming forward to build power lines rather than dams,” he states.

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