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Gitxsan Nation awarded government funding for BC biomass heat project

In Canada, the Minister of Natural Resources Amarjeet Sohi has announced over CA$686 000 in funding for an Indigenous biomass heat project in Hazelton, British Columbia (BC), as part of the government's commitments to creating "good middle-class jobs" and building a clean growth economy.

Under the lead of Gitxsan Energy Inc., a subsidiary of Gitxsan Development Corporation which is the economic development vehicle owned by the Gitxsan Nation, the funding will support the adoption of forest-based biomass heating for the Upper Skeena Recreational Centre.

The Government of Canada says that it is committed to pursuing investments that use domestic resources — Canada’s natural advantage — to enhance economic competitiveness while protecting the environment. This includes investments in emerging technologies that tap into the vast potential of forest-based biomass and bioenergy.

This project will directly benefit the community through good middle-class jobs and is a great example of how we are working with Indigenous partners to create forest-based economic development opportunities, all while helping Canada reach its climate change goals, said Minister Sohi in a statement.

Under the project, forest-based biomass will replace propane as the heating fuel, reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 255 tonnes annually in the recreation complex. The project will also create two full-time biomass harvesting jobs and 12 temporary construction jobs in the local Gitxsan community.

The Gitxsan people are very pleased to have the Government of Canada’s support for such an important local project. The new Upper Skeena Recreation Centre will fill a critical community need, and the use of bioheat continues our focus on the utilization of local resources. This highly advanced technology reduces greenhouse gas emissions while cleaning up the forest floor and consuming the abundant woody biomass throughout the Gitxsan territory, and this, in turn, cuts forest fire hazards. This project has stimulated three more GHG-reducing initiatives, and we may see more to come, said Rick Connors President and CEO, Gitxsan Development Corp.

This is the first funding announced under the Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities Program. The goal of the program is to reduce the reliance of rural and remote communities on fossil fuel for heat and power, with particular emphasis on Indigenous communities.

It is anticipated that projects like this will reduce the use of fossil fuels through the installation or retrofit of proven forest-based biomass heating options in communities or for industrial applications.

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