Green just got greener
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | November 23, 2017|
Forestry was Haliburton’s main economy back in the day. There are still people working in the industry, but it’s not at the scale it once was.
Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve’s new biochar facility is a perfect example of a modern twist on an old industry.
The production of biochar uses the waste of low quality timber collected from the Forest’s saw mill. Using high temperature burning without oxygen, it’s converted to biochar. Biochar can be sold and used in a number of ways. One is mixing biochar into soil to increase plant growth and sequester carbon.
They’re working on a plant on Kennaway Road. The project is valued at $671,000, and it’s anticipated it will create up to 20 jobs.
It doesn’t get much greener than that.
Or does it?
If you’re wondering what’s going on at the former Carquest in downtown Minden, it’s a business called Quantum Passivhaus. They design and build houses. They have passive house-certified builders and planners who provide smart houses and properties that meet current lifestyle needs.
They’re building a centre that will include a manufacturing plant, showroom and training centre.
Work on that project is well underway. It’s pegged at a $350,000 investment. It will create a minimum of six jobs. Principal Chip Robinson said they’re currently working on four projects and that number is just going to climb.
Which brings us to this week’s news.
The federal government, through its community futures development program, ha formally announced $200,000 in grants, $100,000 each for Haliburton Forest Biochar and Quantum Passivhaus.
In the case of the biochar plant, that’s about one-seventh of their costs. In the case of the Minden project, that’s about one quarter.
Everyone knows that start-up businesses face challenges – and those challenges can be exceedingly expensive, and sometimes, deal breakers - so this federal influx is huge.
But, the larger picture is what Haliburton County’s economy is going to look like in future. We have gone from forestry to a heavy reliance on tourism. And, while tourism is a very good thing, the problem is Haliburton County is still considered to be one of the poorest counties in Ontario. So, tourism is not the sole answer.
The answer is a diversified economy. Projects such as the one on Kennaway Road and the one on Peck Street in Minden are excellent examples of the types of industries the county should go after. And, what we really like about these are they are home-grown. The Forest has a long and storied history here. As for Quantum Passivhaus, the Xerris are a Minden mainstay. Both have a vested interest in seeing their fledgling businesses grow. They want to make a livelihood from it, but more importantly, create jobs for their friends and neighbours.
Even better, both are so-called “green” initiatives. They are aimed at making the county more environmentally-friendly. They have a long-term goal of sustainability – both for themselves and the planet. So, we applaud the federal government decision to grant both businesses a good chunk of our, taxpayer-funded, money
Lisa Gervais is the editor for The Highlander.