Ontario invests $60 million in forestry infrastructure

Ontario will inject $60 million into building forest access roads in 2015 and 2016.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry of Ontario will invest $60 million into forestry infrastructure in the province during 2015 and 2016.

The capital injection, which is part of the province’s largest infrastructure financial commitment in its history – the Moving Ontario Forward plan – will be invested into building forestry access roads. Ontario hopes to create jobs in the forestry and tourism sectors as a result, according to a press release.

The plan will make $31.5 billion available over the next decade for investments in priority infrastructure projects across the province and hopes to support over 20,000 jobs a year.

The province’s forestry sector will also be eligible for the $2.7 billion Jobs and Prosperity Fund, which was launched in January and will partner with businesses to help increase production capacity and expand into new markets. This 10-year fund is expected to help modernise the forestry sector and facilitate the production of value-added products by supporting new technologies.

“The increase in annual funding for the forest access roads program is incredibly good news for the forestry sector as our government works to see a continued revitalisation of the sector,” Michael Gravelle, minister of Northern Development and Mines, said in a statement. “While this will mean a great deal to all those who work in forestry, this funding will also provide benefits to the mining and tourism sectors, equally important parts of our Northern economy.”

According to the ministry, $605.2 million has been invested over the past 10 years for the construction and maintenance of public forest access roads at a rate of about 21,000 km a year.

The province’s forests comprise 66 percent, or about 71 million hectares, of the land area, equivalent to the size of Germany, Italy and the Netherlands combined. The Forest Roads Funding Program, funded by provincial government, covers all primary road costs and half of branch road costs. In the 2014-15 fiscal year Ontario committed $38.3 million in Forest Access Roads Program funding, Todd Lane, the press secretary to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Ontario, told Agri Investor.

“We will continue to review the forest access roads program each year with consideration given to other budgetary pressures.  Our intention is to provide stable funding for this program, which will allow the industry to plan for future road construction and maintenance,” Lane said.