Thunder Bay

'Big win' for northern Ontario says infrastructure minister of LNG plant for Nipigon

The Ontario government announced Friday in Thunder Bay it is investing $27,000,000 in the construction and operation of a liquefied natural gas plant (LNG) near Nipigon, in the hopes of lowering home heating costs, helping businesses be more competitive and creating jobs.

Ontario giving $30M to construction, operation of liquefied natural gas plant and eventual gas distribution

The Ontario government announced Friday in Thunder it's contributing $27,000,000 to the construction of a liquefied natural gas plant in Nipigon. Those involved in the announcement from the left are: Melvin Hardy, chief of Rocky Bay First Nation, Matt Dupuis, chief of Red Rock Indian Band, Jody Davis, mayor of Terrace Bay, Joe Ladouceur, chief of Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek, Elder Terry Bouchard, Monte McNaughton, Ontario infrastructure minister, Michael Gravelle, MPP for Thunder Bay-Superior North, and Joshua Samuel, president and CEO of General Partner of Northeast Midstream LP. (Cathy Alex/CBC )

The Ontario government announced Friday in Thunder Bay it is investing $27,000,000 in the construction and operation of a liquefied natural gas plant (LNG) near Nipigon.

It is also providing communities along the north shore of Lake Superior, including Schreiber, Terrace Bay, Marathon, Manitouwadge and Wawa, with an additional $3,400,00 through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, to help them with the necessary engineering, permits and approvals required to bring that gas to homes and businesses.

"This is truly amazing news for northern Ontario," said Monte McNaughton, Ontario's minister of infrastructure. "This is a big win for the region."

People can 'stay home, work in a great job'

"We're talking about thousands of jobs, and we're talking about 5,000 new households will have access to natural gas and 550 businesses, so it's going to make job creators more competitive and it's going to lower the cost of energy bills for families in northern Ontario," he said.

Estimates suggest the project could create anywhere between 700 and 2,800 jobs in a region hit hard by the downturn in the forestry industry.

"There's just so many opportunities now for people to become trained and educated to be able to stay home and work in a great job," said Matt Dupuis, chief of the Red Rock Indian Band.

Monte McNaughton (l) chats with Matt Dupuis, chief of the Red Rock Indian Band, Melvin Hardy, chief of Rocky Bay First Nation and Joe Ladouceur, chief of Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek, while he waits to announce approximately $30,000,000 in provincial funding for a liquefied natural gas plant and distribution system along the north shore of Lake Superior. (Cathy Alex/CBC )

'It's really big' says Terrace Bay mayor

"For us, for the past ten years, if you wanted a great job, you technically had to move away."

The promise of employment and an eventual reduction in home heating costs are the main selling points for Jody Davis, the mayor of Terrace Bay, a town of about 1,500 on the north shore of Lake Superior.

"It's really big," he said. "In the wintertime, over the last several years, heating bills in some of our homes have been up to $1,000 per month."

Heating costs are so high because people and businesses had to rely on diesel, fuel oil, propane or electricity to keep their buildings warm when outside temperatures can plummet to -40 Celsius.

This is going to be one of those projects that Ontario can point to and say 'job well done to everyone'.- Monte McNaughton, Ontario minister of infrastructure

LNG is super-cooled natural gas that has been turned into a liquid, which makes it safer to store and transport, explained Joshua Samuel, the president and CEO of the General Partner of Northeast Midstream LP, an Ontario-based partnership focused on expanding natural gas service to communities, which are not served by the traditional pipeline model.

"There's this thing called the Canadian Shield, and if you have the benefit of being along the TransCanada Pipeline (TCP), which is the only source of natural gas in northern Ontario, then that's fine. If you're an industry or a community not living on the pipeline [route] then you don't have access to natural gas and your sources of energy are more expensive," said Samuel.

Gas from the TCP outside Nipigon will be liquefied and trucked to communities in the area, where it will be converted back to gas for local distribution.

Construction on the liquefied natural gas plant in Nipigon, Ont., is expected to begin in spring 2019, and be completed by 2020. Estimates suggest the project could bring between 700 to 2,800 jobs to northwestern Ontario. (Cathy Alex/CBC)

The project has been underway for approximately four years, beginning when the Liberals were still in power in Ontario.

McNaughton praised the efforts of Thunder Bay-Superior North MPP Michael Gravelle and the cooperation and collaboration of everyone involved, including the company.

"I think that's one of the greatest stories coming out of today," he said. "There's a real partnership between First Nations communities, municipalities and the province. This is going to be one of those projects that Ontario can point to and say 'job well done to everyone'."

Construction on the LNG plant is expected to begin in spring 2019 with the facility operational by 2020. 

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