Lake Babine Nation’s (LNB) plan to build a biomass plant is being shelved while the nation concentrates on other projects.
According to project manager Bernard Patrick, LBN made this decision after federal funding to start phase two of the project was denied.
However, Patrick hopes the project won’t be shelved for “too long.”
“I can’t really specify for how long… hopefully within a year or two,” he said. “We are still hopeful… [LBN] council is still in support of it.”
“We’re changing our game plan to try to seek funding elsewhere,” he added. “But right now there are other projects that are more of a priority for LBN that we’re concentrating on.”
One of these projects involves building new housing for LBN members.
The biomass project was originally expected to be completed by 2017. Earlier this year Patrick said the reason for the delay was because several requests for funding had been denied.
“They [funding agencies] are all waiting for other agencies to commit first,” Patrick said in March. “All the funding agencies are looking at our project favourably even though they denied our application.”
One of these funding requests was $150,000 from Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT). Although NDIT wouldn’t comment on the specifics of why they denied LBN’s application earlier this year, the agency said they were “over-committed” with the number of requests for available 2017 funds.
The biomass project’s phase one – which included an engineering feasibility study and a skills training program – has already been completed.
Phase two would involve the construction of an underground distribution system in Fort Babine, and phase three would see the construction of an energy centre in Woyenee, as well as a business set-up and operation training.
Lake Babine Nation hopes the construction of this biomass plant will provide clean energy to its members and create a steady revenue stream. The plant would burn wood chips to sell heat to government organizations, private homes in Woyenne and community buildings in Fort Babine.
The project is expected to create five full-time and eight part-time permanent jobs.
The province provided $40,000 to LBN for the project’s feasibility study in 2013, and more than $110,000 for a skills training program in which seven local First Nations people received on-the-job training in 2015. During the 47-week program, participants built 67 firewood storage sheds for Lake Babine Nation in Tachet and Fort Babine, as well as two timber bridges.