Those who have purchased lumber or plywood in Ontario during the last year will know that prices are at a record high. The market for forest products in North America is skyrocketing despite the pandemic. In Parry Sound and Muskoka, this means the time has come for innovative ideas and new business, according to Westwind Forest Stewardship manager Steve Munro.
Munro said Westwind successfully sought support from the province to explore new ideas around utilizing local wood supply that has no current market due to its lower comparative value to prime saw logs accepted by the area’s mills. “The future is bright. Right now, we have an ideal opportunity to improve our forest management, identify efficiencies, and build new businesses,” says Munro.
According to Norman Miller, local MPP, forestry plays an integral role in supporting the area’s economy and communities. “I’m pleased Westwind is taking the initiative to pursue innovative solutions. Ontario has a forest management system that is world- renowned. Investments like this will help keep us on the leading edge.”
Westwind (a not-for-profit, community-based company that holds the Sustainable Forest License for the French-Severn Forest) received $22,500 from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund through their Northern Community Capacity Building Program. Westwind plans to use and distribute underutilized low-end fibre from candidate locations along the Highway 69 corridor, in partnership with Indigenous communities and others.
According to Munro, markets for this type of wood have been slow. “Even though we’re well located in proximity to high density populations, it’s tough to get a new business up and running – it’s very competitive. This funding will help us get ahead.”
Westwind also received matching funds for this project from FedNor, the Government of Canada’s economic development organization for Northern Ontario.