Canadian government announces $4.5 million of funding for LP mill conversion

The Government of Canada, through Natural Resources Canada’s Investments in Forest Industry Transformation (IFIT) program, announced today $4.5 million of funding towards Louisiana Pacific’s conversion of their Dawson Creek sawmill from OSB production to SmartSide Lap Siding production.

“This is a glimpse of the future — high performance siding that is resistant to mould, hail, decay, and extreme temperatures. A local product with global potential,” says Paul Lefebvre, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources, on hand to make the announcement.

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“Our government is proud to support forest innovation, which is helping combat the effects of climate change, opening new markets for Canadian forest companies and sustaining good jobs for Canadians. I congratulate Louisiana-Pacific for leading the way in forest sustainability and providing eco-friendly development solutions in Canada.”

The total project is pegged at $161 million. Construction on the project began in August 2017, and LP was producing OSB here until November 2018. Louisiana Pacific has been manufacturing OSB in Dawson Creek since 1987.

“We’re in the midst of construction activities, installing new equipment to convert our mill and in the first quarter of this year, our employees are poised to produce a different LP product at our facility,” says Parker Snyder, plant manager in Dawson Creek.

Start-up is expected in late February.

“We appreciate the Government’s financial support of this project through Natural Resources Canada’s IFIT program. The contribution is a recognition of LP’s own culture of innovation, it was a key element in LP’s selection of the Dawson Creek facility,” says Jimmy Mason, vice president, siding manufacturing of LP.

“As we stand here today, our growth strategy becomes a reality. Dawson Creek and our employees here play a significant role in the driving the growth strategy within our siding business. We have a very aggressive growth strategy in the siding business.”

Upon completion, the release notes that the upgraded facility will produce 300 million square feet of SmartSide Lap Siding, create a new revenue stream from underutilized biomass, and sustain 69 direct and 200 indirect jobs.

“We’re producing a very sustainable, well-positioned product in the marketplace. It’s exciting to be a part of that,” says Mason.

The upgraded facility will still have the ability to produce OSB, but will primarily focus on siding.

This project is the one of 32 projects funded through IFIT, Lefebvre says. IFIT received $55 million over three years on June 1, 2017, as part of the Government of Canada’s $867 million Softwood Lumber Action Plan intended to support workers and forest-dependent communities affected by U.S. duties on Canadian softwood lumber.

“To date, IFIT has funded 32 projects, allowing existing forest sector operations to adopt transformative technologies enabling new production of bio-energy, next generation building materials, bio-materials, and bio-chemicals,” he explains.

“This announcement is great for Dawson Creek, good for BC, and good for jobs. These are just good paying jobs that we’re maintaining in rural areas of Canada, and Dawson Creek is key. The fact that we can invest $4.5 million into the local economy in partnership with Louisiana Pacific just shows that we can work together.”

“The future looks bright for Dawson Creek, the future looks bright for LP,” says Mason.

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