The province on Wednesday approved timber allocations that will allow One Sky Forest Products Ltd. (One Sky) to move forward with a new oriented strand board (OSB) plant in Prince Albert.
The One Sky plant is expected to create more than 700 forestry jobs in northern Saskatchewan and the Prince Albert area, where most of the lumber needed for the installation will come from, with promises of hire a workforce that is predominantly indigenous.
The province is allocating most of the lumber needed for this project, while the remainder will be provided by the company through agreements with First Nations, other sawmills and private landowners.
“Forestry is the largest sector in northern Saskatchewan and supports nearly 8,000 jobs and hundreds of businesses,” said Energy and Resources Minister Bronwyn Eyre.
“The One Sky Project will help meet our ambitious growth plan goal of doubling the province’s forest sector by 2030 and further strengthening Saskatchewan’s economy.”
The Government of Saskatchewan allocates timber through the Department of Energy and Resources under the Forest Resources Management Act.
“We are extremely pleased with Minister Bronwyn Eyre’s announcement today to award One Sky Forests Products and our partners with the necessary fiber concessions to move our project forward,” said Brian Fehr, Founder and President. of the One Sky Board of Directors.
“We have been working with our Saskatchewan investors and First Nations partners for over a year to get to this and we look forward to moving on to the next phase of project development. We thank the Government of Saskatchewan and look forward to developing this important project for Prince Albert, our First Nations partners and the people of Saskatchewan.
Current partners include Peak Renewables Ltd., local investors and 12 First Nations represented by Montreal Lake Business Ventures, Meadow Lake Tribal Council with Big River First Nation and Wahpeton Dakota Developments.
“Montreal Lake Business Ventures has been involved in this process from the start, and we are very happy with today’s announcement,” said Robert Fincati, CEO of Montreal Lake Business Ventures.
“This OSB installation will bring enormous economic benefits to the community and will be a major employer, not only for Montreal Lake, but for all the Aboriginal communities in the region. This is a very exciting milestone in our history, and we look forward to working with our partners to get things done. “
The company said it was well positioned to meet global market demands through “strategic partnerships, competitive pricing and optimization of forest land.”
The new facility will be located in relation to the main markets with rail and road infrastructure. One Sky has said it will produce the “most environmentally friendly product on the market.”
Saskatchewan’s growing forest sector is supported by abundant ecosystems that cover more than half of our province, ”said Environment Minister Warren Kaeding.
“We welcome sustainable developments and will work with industry partners to ensure our forests continue to be well managed, healthy and sustainable over the long term. “
With the North American residential construction industry forecasting a decade of growth, One Sky will enter the market by producing performance OSB coatings, which is a preferred coating material for walls, roofs and sub-floors.
OSB is a type of engineered wood similar to particle board, formed by adding adhesives and then compressing layers of wood strands together.
The material is considered particularly suitable for load-bearing applications in construction. It is now more popular than plywood, accounting for the bulk of the structural panel market in North America.
The $ 250 million One Sky plant will have a capacity of 600 million square feet of product per year, requiring approximately 845,000 cubic meters of lumber.
In 2020, more than $ 1.1 billion in Saskatchewan forest products were sold, an increase of almost 30% from the previous year. This wood allocation will also support the growth of other value-added manufacturing industries in the province’s forestry sector.
“As an investor in the installation of One Sky Forest Products OSB, Wahpeton Dakota Developments looks forward to helping create new jobs and new business opportunities in the Prince Albert area,” said Wahpeton President Dakota Developments, Cy Standing.
“We are excited to invest in a facility that will create additional economic opportunities for Saskatchewan as it produces a sustainable product that is in demand locally, nationally and internationally.
The plant is slated to start up in 2023, and construction is slated to start in 2022. The project is described by One Sky as a “go-to-go green initiative” that can create jobs “during and after COVID”.
“The One Sky Forest Products OSB installation represents a significant opportunity for Indigenous ownership, participation and employment in a stable Saskatchewan manufacturing business,” said Meadow Lake Tribal Council Chief Richard Ben.
“The Meadow Lake Tribal Council is pleased to participate in this strategic growth of the forest industry. This represents a unique opportunity for the Aboriginal ownership of the 12 Saskatchewan First Nations who are currently vested.
The company said procurement opportunities for businesses in the region will be available during construction as well as ongoing operation.
“This unique project and opportunity for Indigenous property will translate into long-term benefits for partner First Nations communities,” said Big River First Nation Chief Jack Rayne.
“For the Big River First Nation, the opportunity to own a mill is the obvious next step on the path to creating economic benefits for our community. The Big River First Nation is confident that this partnership will increase productivity in our province and contribute to local economies. It is a big step forward. “
The company is also sourcing fiber from more First Nations near Prince Albert with the goal of securing “significant capital investment and ownership” by Aboriginal communities.