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Discoveries That Matter - Sarnia LambtonBest2Invest 2014
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Kudos for Economic Partnership Read More >>

Using corn stover, wheat stalks to create bio-based chemicals, biofuels Read More >>

Lambton invention could save people dying in grain bins Read More >>

Union Gas looking at $100 million expansion at Dawn Read More >>

2015 News

Lambton invention could save people dying in grain bins2015-02-26
From www.cbc.ca 

A close call on a Nova Scotia farm brought back memories for a Lambton county farmer who years ago helped invent a tool to stop grain silos from becoming deadly.

"A number of years back there was a 4-H member killed in a grain incident, similar to the one that happened in Nova Scotia," said dairy farmer George Dickenson.
That prompted the invention of the grain excavation tool or G.E.T. "So we put it to the kids, and kind of kept working different prototypes until we came up with the one that we felt worked," Dickenson said.

On Feb 24, 2015 a 20-year old man was nearly buried alive when he sank in a Great Village, N.S., grain elevator and managed to call help using his cell phone.
The farmer was trying to move grain from one bin to another, but the auger wasn’t working. The farmer's call for help brought two co-workers to the elevator. They managed to get a rope around the sinking man before he sank beneath the grain.

"Oh ya it works. We've done dummy training and everything else," said Dickenson, who would like to see G.E.T. devices in all grain elevators. "That was our goal. If we could get something that was fairly inexpensive and simple," he said.

Union Gas looking at $100 million expansion at Dawn2015-02-25
From www.petrolialambtonindependent.ca  The Independent

Union Gas is expanding its Dawn site and it will mean a big influx of cash to the area – more than $100 million according to officials.

The company recently announced it was considering a new natural gas pipeline from its Dawn site to just outside of Oil Springs. It is proposing about 16 kilometers of 48 inch of pipeline to a pumping station in Enniskillen. The project is as part of a $1 to $2 billion investment by the company as it gears up for higher demand created by a wealth of new gas accessible from the US market because of fracking.

Company officials were recently told Dawn-Euphemia Council that pipeline project will likely take a backseat to a larger, more lucrative project to build a new compressor at the Dawn Site.

Dave Lamoureux, Union Gas’ director of storage and transmission operations, told councilors that decision was made in the last week. “The Dawn to Enniskillen (pipeline) environmental call was already issued but earliest were looking now is 2018…it is very fluid situation we’re in.”

Lamoureux says Union Gas has plans to boost transmission by installing a new compressor station at Dawn and three others along the pipeline to Eastern Ontario.

The compressor project would use about 25 acres of land on the northern end of the Dawn facility on Bentpath Line. While Union Gas officials didn’t give councilors a dollar figure, the last time the company built a new compressor unit, a large amount was invested.

Union Gas opened a compressor unit in Oct. 2011. At the time, it cost the company $45 million. Union Gas Spokesperson Andrea Stass says this compressor will be “far north of that” and over the $100 million mark.

The expansion would be positive for the cash-strapped municipality of Dawn-Euphemia. The 2011 expansion brought in $170,000 in new tax revenue according to Councilor Jason Myers.

The company is notifying the public this week about its plans for a new compressor station at Dawn. Lamoureux says it is part of the construction project but he doesn’t expect many people will notice the work.

“A lot of other work will be done at the site – a lot of infrastructure underground,” he says adding “there will be an addition facility housing a 45,000 horse-powered unit.”

Lamoureux says Union Gas, like the other big energy companies, are trying to be the first out of the gate with expansion to take advantage of the new gas source. “Between Union Gas, Enbridge Pipelines and Trans Canada Pipelines, there is $2.1 billion in investment planned…overall, its very good for Ontario…. It puts Ontario in a very good position from an energy perspective.”

Union Gas plans to meet with the public on the project this spring and submit the plan to the Ontario Energy Board for approval. If all goes well, construction on the project could begin in 2016.
February 25, 2015

Union Gas is expanding its Dawn site and it will mean a big influx of cash to the area – more than $100 million according to officials.

The company recently announced it was considering a new natural gas pipeline from its Dawn site to just outside of Oil Springs. It is proposing about 16 kilometers of 48 inch of pipeline to a pumping station in Enniskillen. The project is as part of a $1 to $2 billion investment by the company as it gears up for higher demand created by a wealth of new gas accessible from the US market because of fracking.

Company officials were recently told Dawn-Euphemia Council that pipeline project will likely take a backseat to a larger, more lucrative project to build a new compressor at the Dawn Site.

Dave Lamoureux, Union Gas’ director of storage and transmission operations, told councilors that decision was made in the last week. “The Dawn to Enniskillen (pipeline) environmental call was already issued but earliest were looking now is 2018…it is very fluid situation we’re in.”

Lamoureux says Union Gas has plans to boost transmission by installing a new compressor station at Dawn and three others along the pipeline to Eastern Ontario.

The compressor project would use about 25 acres of land on the northern end of the Dawn facility on Bentpath Line. While Union Gas officials didn’t give councilors a dollar figure, the last time the company built a new compressor unit, a large amount was invested.

Union Gas opened a compressor unit in Oct. 2011. At the time, it cost the company $45 million. Union Gas Spokesperson Andrea Stass says this compressor will be “far north of that” and over the $100 million mark.

The expansion would be positive for the cash-strapped municipality of Dawn-Euphemia. The 2011 expansion brought in $170,000 in new tax revenue according to Councilor Jason Myers.

The company is notifying the public this week about its plans for a new compressor station at Dawn. Lamoureux says it is part of the construction project but he doesn’t expect many people will notice the work.

“A lot of other work will be done at the site – a lot of infrastructure underground,” he says adding “there will be an addition facility housing a 45,000 horse-powered unit.”

Lamoureux says Union Gas, like the other big energy companies, are trying to be the first out of the gate with expansion to take advantage of the new gas source. “Between Union Gas, Enbridge Pipelines and Trans Canada Pipelines, there is $2.1 billion in investment planned…overall, its very good for Ontario…. It puts Ontario in a very good position from an energy perspective.”

Union Gas plans to meet with the public on the project this spring and submit the plan to the Ontario Energy Board for approval. If all goes well, construction on the project could begin in 2016.>

Making plans for Artwalk2015-02-25
Registration opened this week for vendors seeking a spot at the 13th annual Sarnia Lambton Artwalk set for June 6 and 7 in downtown Sarnia.

Last year's edition of the popular arts and culture festival attracted an estimated 30,000 people, and more than 200 street vendors, to the downtown.

Along with the large number of vendors, the festival offers a multicultural village showcase, a children's village and an eco-village, said coordinator Ashley Tanguay.

That gives it a "festivals within a festival" feel, along with street buskers and entertainment offered during the two days, she said.

Tanguay said organizers are once again planning to "tap into some local talent" for the musical entertainment at Artwalk.

TD Bank has come on board again this year with a $7,000 donation to sponsor the multicultural village that aims to showcase cultural groups and Sarnia-Lambton's diversity.

Tanguay said organizers are hoping to grow and expand both the multicultural village and the children's village offerings.

"So, we are expecting to see a lot more going on for kids this year," she said.

This year, the event is adopting Discoveries Matter, a new community brand tag line announced recently, as the theme for the upcoming Artwalk.

"There's so much to discover at Artwalk the board felt it was only fitting," Tanguay said.

Registration for vendors is available online at www.sarniaartwalk.com.

"We have some pretty faithful vendors what plan us yearly in their calendars," Tanquay said.

Along with a large number of local artists, the event draws in vendors from as far away as Alberta and Kentucky, she said.

Power line improvements planned for central Lambton2015-02-24
By Paul Morden, from www.theobserver.ca   The Observer

Bluewater Power has a $1.5-million decision to make.

The utility that delivers electricity to customers in six Sarnia-Lambton municipalities, including Oil Springs and Petrolia, is considers contributing that amount to an upgrading project Hydro One has planned for its Wanstead transmission station, east of Wyoming.

It's part of short and long-term improvements the province's electricity distribution utility has been making, or has planned, to reduce power failures in central Lambton County.

"It's not small dollars," Bluewater Power president Janice McMichael-Dennis said Monday.

"That's why it's our obligation to make sure we've done our homework, and understand exactly what that buys for our customers."

Hydro One delivers electricity to Bluewater Power, which distributes it to customers in Oil Springs, Petrolia and its other member communities.

In recent years, Bluewater Power's central Lambton customers have experienced numerous outages, including seven between January and May 2014.

"This has been an issue that has been lingering," McMichael-Dennis said, but added she's encouraged by improvements Hydro One carried last year, and the work it still plans to do.

"We're hopeful this is a good outcome for our customers out in the county."

Hydro One's longer-term plans include renewing its transmission station in Wanstead, and it has asked Bluewater Power to consider contributing a portion of the cost of upgrading a 115 kV system to 230 kV.

McMichael-Dennis said Bluewater Power, a utility owned by its six member municipalities, is expected to make a decision by this week.

The work on the station and line upgrade isn't planned until 2018, but McMichael-Dennis said Hydro One officials have agreed to looking into doing it sooner.

McMichael-Dennis said Hydro One has already made some improvements to its equipment feeding the Oil Springs area, and committed to do more this year.

Oil Springs Mayor Ian Veen said he's happy with what has been done so far, and with what's planned.

"It took a bit but I think they understand our position, and I'm glad we're actually moving forward with it."

Hydro One spokesperson Nancy Shaddick said work set for this year includes repairing and improving equipment, and installing equipment to better detect the location of outages.

"Ultimately, the work we're performing this year is going to reduce the impact of power outages, both by lowering the number of people that would be impacted, and reducing the length of the outages," she said.

Hydro One plans to spend $7 million in the next three years on improvements, including replacing and relocating some aging pole lines in the area, she said.

That figure doesn't include the Wanstead station renewal project.

"We are confident that the improvements we have planned on the distribution feeders for the next couple of years will improve reliability in the short-term," Shaddick said.

Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey said his office worked with residents in the Oil Springs area to circulate a petition that gathered approximately 1,000 signatures calling for an end to frequent outages.

Bailey said Hydro One plans to spend approximately $30 million on improvements at Wanstead. Moving to a 230kV system will cost an additional $5 million, including Bluewater Power's $1.5-million potential contribution, he said.

"It would be the right way to go," Bailey said.

As well as improving reliability for existing customers, upgrading the service could help attract new businesses, he said.

"If we want to attract industry out into rural Lambton, like Petrolia and Oil Springs, then they need a guaranteed source of electricity."

Bailey said that along with the petition, his office sent a letter about the reliability issues to Sandra Pupatello, a former Liberal Windsor MPP who is chairperson of Hydro One.

"I served with Ms Pupatello in the Legislature," he said. "Now, she was on the other side of the fence, but that's OK."

Bailey said Pupatello responded quickly to the concerns.

"Things are moving," he added.
Bluewater Power has a $1.5-million decision to make.

The utility that delivers electricity to customers in six Sarnia-Lambton municipalities, including Oil Springs and Petrolia, is considers contributing that amount to an upgrading project Hydro One has planned for its Wanstead transmission station, east of Wyoming.

It's part of short and long-term improvements the province's electricity distribution utility has been making, or has planned, to reduce power failures in central Lambton County.

"It's not small dollars," Bluewater Power president Janice McMichael-Dennis said Monday.

"That's why it's our obligation to make sure we've done our homework, and understand exactly what that buys for our customers."

Hydro One delivers electricity to Bluewater Power, which distributes it to customers in Oil Springs, Petrolia and its other member communities.

In recent years, Bluewater Power's central Lambton customers have experienced numerous outages, including seven between January and May 2014.

"This has been an issue that has been lingering," McMichael-Dennis said, but added she's encouraged by improvements Hydro One carried last year, and the work it still plans to do.

"We're hopeful this is a good outcome for our customers out in the county."

Hydro One's longer-term plans include renewing its transmission station in Wanstead, and it has asked Bluewater Power to consider contributing a portion of the cost of upgrading a 115 kV system to 230 kV.

McMichael-Dennis said Bluewater Power, a utility owned by its six member municipalities, is expected to make a decision by this week.

The work on the station and line upgrade isn't planned until 2018, but McMichael-Dennis said Hydro One officials have agreed to looking into doing it sooner.

McMichael-Dennis said Hydro One has already made some improvements to its equipment feeding the Oil Springs area, and committed to do more this year.

Oil Springs Mayor Ian Veen said he's happy with what has been done so far, and with what's planned.

"It took a bit but I think they understand our position, and I'm glad we're actually moving forward with it."

Hydro One spokesperson Nancy Shaddick said work set for this year includes repairing and improving equipment, and installing equipment to better detect the location of outages.

"Ultimately, the work we're performing this year is going to reduce the impact of power outages, both by lowering the number of people that would be impacted, and reducing the length of the outages," she said.

Hydro One plans to spend $7 million in the next three years on improvements, including replacing and relocating some aging pole lines in the area, she said.

That figure doesn't include the Wanstead station renewal project.

"We are confident that the improvements we have planned on the distribution feeders for the next couple of years will improve reliability in the short-term," Shaddick said.

Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey said his office worked with residents in the Oil Springs area to circulate a petition that gathered approximately 1,000 signatures calling for an end to frequent outages.

Bailey said Hydro One plans to spend approximately $30 million on improvements at Wanstead. Moving to a 230kV system will cost an additional $5 million, including Bluewater Power's $1.5-million potential contribution, he said.

"It would be the right way to go," Bailey said.

As well as improving reliability for existing customers, upgrading the service could help attract new businesses, he said.

"If we want to attract industry out into rural Lambton, like Petrolia and Oil Springs, then they need a guaranteed source of electricity."

Bailey said that along with the petition, his office sent a letter about the reliability issues to Sandra Pupatello, a former Liberal Windsor MPP who is chairperson of Hydro One.

"I served with Ms Pupatello in the Legislature," he said. "Now, she was on the other side of the fence, but that's OK."

Bailey said Pupatello responded quickly to the concerns.

"Things are moving," he added.



One Tomato secures downtown Sarnia location2015-02-24
By Lee Michaels, from blackburnnews.com

Thanks to a three-year grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and support from various community partners, One Tomato will open a multi-use food space in downtown Sarnia in April.

Spokesman Darren Hakker says the local non-profit organization will be located at 100 Christina St. in space once occupied by Sarnia Goodwill Industries.

He says the “Sarnia Cabinets Kitchen” will anchor the Culinary Centre portion of the building.

One Tomato will work with small local food producers to create, market and sell small batches of food products and will have a DineSafe designation.

One Tomato will partner with events and organizations such as Artwalk, First Friday and Return to the Landscape which will also be housed in the building.


Sarnia-Lambton economic office received honourable mention2015-02-20
By Paul Morden, from www.theobserver.ca  The Observer

The Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership has been recognized for its efforts to promote local metal fabricators, engineering firms and other industrial service suppliers.

The county-funded economic development agency received an honourable mention during the awards dinner at the recent annual conference of the Economic Developers Council of Ontario, for its work with the Sarnia Lambton Industrial Alliance (SLIA).

Originating with efforts by the economic partnership, the industrial alliance has grown quickly since forming in 2010 to become a 40-member organization promoting its members with potential industrial customers beyond Chemical Valley.

"It's always good to get some recognition," said George Mallay, general manager of the economic partnership.

"The group has done an amazing job in terms of coming together and looking at better ways to market themselves, and market the area and generate more business and jobs."

A study carried out by the partnership in 2010 identified the needs for small and medium-sized businesses to get together on promotion, to counter a reduction in the work coming from its traditional customers in Chemical Valley.

At the time, the community was experiencing a 30% unemployment rate in the skilled trades.

Following the release of the study, representatives from the industry then came together to form the alliance.

"There's about 100 companies in total here in that area, engineering, machining, metal fabricating, industrial services, environmental consulting," Mallay said.

"They employ highly-skilled, highly paid people."

Those companies are a significant segment of the local economy, Mallay said.

As well as pursuing work from customers outside of the region, the alliance has been working to create a permanent land route that would allow industrial modules created in local shops to move more easily to the St. Clair River to be shipped.

As well as looking at potential new markets in the Western Canadian oil patch, the alliance has been looking at markets in Atlantic Canada and the U.S., Mallay said.

A preliminary study considered potential routes and came up with a preliminary cost estimate of $3.5 million for work that would include burying or raising electricity lines and modifying street corners to allow for sharp turns by the large equipment.

"And now, the group is looking to secure funding to complete a next-phase engineering study," Mallay said.

It's also looking for longer-term government help pay for the construction needed to create the transportation corridor, he said.

David Moody, with the economic partnership office, has been working closely with the alliance and attended the recent awards dinner in Hamilton with Mallay.

"The economic partnership's ability to help put the resources and people in place to help with the creation of SLIA has been a remarkable undertaking, from inception to incorporation," said alliance chairperson Rick Perdeaux.

"The people at the economic partnership are one of the community's best resources."

Artwalk chooses "Discoveries That Matter"2015-02-17
The 13th Annual Sarnia Lambton Artwalk is underway and set to take place this year June 6th and 7th 2015 in downtown Sarnia. This Arts and Cultural festival brings out over 30,000 attendees, hosts over 200 street vendors and offers several musical entertainers and street performers over the course of the weekend.

We would like to start off by showing our gratitude to TD BANK for continuing to sponsor the Multicultural Village each year. They will be joining us again this year with their $7,000 donation to the festival. As Artwalk is a not for profit it is imperative to the festival to partner with members of the community. TD has shown tremendous support over the years and we look forward to working with them, in partnership with the Sarnia- Lambton Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) to expand the Multicultural Village. This year we will continue to bring awareness to different cultural groups by showcasing our community’s growing diversity.

"Celebrating diversity at events such as Artwalk is a great way to increase our understanding of the cultural groups that exist in our community," says Jeneane Fast, Social Researcher for the Sarnia-Lambton LIP. "We are excited to once again partner with Artwalk and TD Bank to make the TD Multicultural Village bigger and better for 2015."

New to this year is our theme! We are excited to be using the new community brand “Discoveries That Matter”. There is a lot to discover at the festival from the arts vendors that take to our streets of downtown, to the TD Multicultural Village, our Eco-Village and interactive Children’s Village.

George Mallay, General Manager of the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership quotes “We are thrilled that Artwalk is adopting the new “Discoveries That Matter” community brand as their theme for 2015. This major arts festival brings thousands of people into the heart of Sarnia’s historical and cultural district, and we look forward to these visitors discovering the wonderful artists, artisans, musicians, and more that are part of the excitement of Artwalk.”

The Economic Partnership is one of 13 Lambton organizations that have the drivers behind the community brand. Registration is set to open online for vendors on Monday, February 23rd at www.sarniaartwalk.com. For more information on how to get involved with Artwalk as a vendor, sponsor, volunteer or entertainer please email info@sarniaartwalk.com.



Kudos for Economic Partnership2015-02-13
Sarnia-Lambton, Ontario - The Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership has been recognized for its work with the Sarnia Lambton Industrial Alliance (SLIA).

Last night at its Annual Conference and Showcase, held in Hamilton, the Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO) presented Economic Partnership GM George Mallay and Project Leader David Moody with an Honourable Mention in the category of ‘Public/Private Partnerships, population 50,000 to 250,000’. The accolade was in recognition of the organization’s work to strengthen Sarnia-Lambton’s metal fabrication, engineering and industrial service company sectors through the efforts of Sarnia Lambton Industrial Alliance (SLIA).

Rick Perdeaux, the Chair of the SLIA Board of Directors, says “The Economic Partnership’s ability to help put the resources and people in place to help with the creation of SLIA has been a remarkable undertaking, from inception to incorporation. The people at the Economic Partnership are one of the community's best resources!”

SLIA Originated from the efforts of the Economic Partnership, and SLIA has grown to become a 40 member strong alliance of Sarnia-Lambton companies that are garnering results, and contracts, from their united and focused marketing efforts. You can learn more about this unique collaboration at www.sarnialambtonindustrialalliance.com.

Economic Partnership GM George Mallay noted that while the award recognition is welcomed, the true award is SLIA’s leadership and vision. “The industry is working collaboratively; there is increasing communication among members; and they are pursuing new markets. They are taking the industry to new heights,” said Mallay. “It has been a pleasure working with SLIA, whose membership reflects the highly skilled and specialized companies here in Sarnia-Lambton.”

The EDCO Awards are held annually to showcase the work of economic development organizations across Ontario.

SLIA was the recipient of the Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce 2014 ‘Innovation Award’ Business Achievement Award. In 2014 the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership was also the recipient of Site Selection Magazine’s ‘Top Canadian Economic Development Groups’.

Background on SLIA:

SLIA is an incorporated not-for-profit industry association dedicated to the marketing of its members’ products and services both individually and jointly. Led by a six member volunteer board of directors, they actively seek opportunities outside of the local market place across Canada and internationally. They also demonstrate to companies who are considering Sarnia-Lambton as a location, the strong resources available to them to engineer, build, maintain and service businesses particularly in the oil, petrochemical, biofuel and chemical industries.

- ## -

For further information:
George Mallay, General Manager
Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership
519-332-1820


Using corn stover, wheat stalks to create bio-based chemicals, biofuels2015-02-10
 
From www.theobserver.ca  The Observer

Corn and wheat stalks will be gaining some sweet value in the future, thanks to the creation of Ontario's newest co-op.

A small group of farmers from Ontario's corn belt area of Chatham-Kent, Sarnia-Lambton and Middlesex have come together to form the Cellulosic Sugar Producers' Co-operative.

The goal is turn corn stover – the leaves, stalks and other parts of the plant left over after corn kernels have been harvested – and wheat straw into sugar for use in bio-based chemicals and biofuels.

This will reduce dependence on non-renewable resources as well as provide new revenue streams for what are currently considered agricultural waste products or under-used resources.

Murray McLaughlin, executive director of Sarnia-based Bioindustrial Innovation Canada, told QMI Agency recently that the objective is to see a commercial plant developed by 2018 that will likely located in Lambton.

“Basically, we're going to evaluate a number of processes that are being developed to process biomass corn stover and wheat straw into sugars, with the whole premise of trying to determine what might be the best technology for our region,” he said.

It’s hoped this will result in being about to identify two or three technologies that would have the ability to produce sugars at the quality that is needed, McLaughlin said.

Forming the farmer co-op is an important step in establishing a new supply chain for a commercial cellulosic sugar plant.

McLaughlin said in a written release Tuesday that while most members are currently in the Ontario corn belt, “we'd like to see this eventually go across the province.

“There will be more than one mill needed in the future,” he added.

He said in a previous interview that what a plant would cost depends on the technology used. He added a rough estimate would be between $50 million and $100 million.

Using corn stover and wheat stalk provides the quality of sugar at an affordable price, McLaughlin said, adding, “quality and price are critical.

“As long as we can meet those two criteria, and the supply that's needed, we'll have a ready market, I think,” he said.

And getting sugar from corn stalks and wheat stalks “takes us away from the whole food-versus-fuel debates,” McLaughlin said.

Corn and wheat stalks will be gaining some sweet value in the future, thanks to the creation of Ontario's newest co-op.

A small group of farmers from Ontario's corn belt area of Chatham-Kent, Sarnia-Lambton and Middlesex have come together to form the Cellulosic Sugar Producers' Co-operative.

The goal is turn corn stover – the leaves, stalks and other parts of the plant left over after corn kernels have been harvested – and wheat straw into sugar for use in bio-based chemicals and biofuels.

This will reduce dependence on non-renewable resources as well as provide new revenue streams for what are currently considered agricultural waste products or under-used resources.

Murray McLaughlin, executive director of Sarnia-based Bioindustrial Innovation Canada, told QMI Agency recently that the objective is to see a commercial plant developed by 2018 that will likely located in Lambton.

“Basically, we're going to evaluate a number of processes that are being developed to process biomass corn stover and wheat straw into sugars, with the whole premise of trying to determine what might be the best technology for our region,” he said.

It’s hoped this will result in being about to identify two or three technologies that would have the ability to produce sugars at the quality that is needed, McLaughlin said.

Forming the farmer co-op is an important step in establishing a new supply chain for a commercial cellulosic sugar plant.

McLaughlin said in a written release Tuesday that while most members are currently in the Ontario corn belt, “we'd like to see this eventually go across the province.

“There will be more than one mill needed in the future,” he added.

He said in a previous interview that what a plant would cost depends on the technology used. He added a rough estimate would be between $50 million and $100 million.

Using corn stover and wheat stalk provides the quality of sugar at an affordable price, McLaughlin said, adding, “quality and price are critical.

“As long as we can meet those two criteria, and the supply that's needed, we'll have a ready market, I think,” he said.

And getting sugar from corn stalks and wheat stalks “takes us away from the whole food-versus-fuel debates,” McLaughlin said.

MOE officials will meet with Sarnia-Lambton bitumen upgrader group in March2015-02-10

By Barbara Simpson, from www.theobserver.ca  The Observer
 
The Ontario government needs to send a strong message of support in order to help Sarnia-Lambton attract a $10-billion bitumen upgrader, says a retired Chemical Valley executive.
 
“That will give us a lot more leverage with the private sector, and you need leverage because you need people to listen to you,” Bowman Centre associate Walter Petryschuk said Tuesday.
 
He and fellow retired Chemical Valley executives will meet with Ministry of Energy officials March 6 in an attempt to secure support for the Sarnia-Lambton project.
 
The groups previously met on the issue in January.
 
Promoters of the Sarnia-Lambton Advanced Bitumen Energy Refinery (SABER) – the moniker used for the project – are already in discussions with potential investors, Petryschuk told a crowd gathered for his Central Forum presentation Tuesday.
 
While questions have recently arisen about the demand for a fourth local refinery, Petryschuk dismissed concerns Tuesday, pointing to the fact one-third of Ontario's fuel is still imported into the province.
 
A bitumen upgrader would allow fuels and other higher value-added chemicals to be processed in Sarnia-Lambton.
 
When asked why existing refineries won't expand to take in the work, Petryschuk speculated that they will “only move if they see a threat” in the marketplace.
 
“The reality is that if you build one refinery, you will see investment in the other refineries,” he added.
 
Proponents of the project have long argued Canada is losing $2.5 billion a year by exporting rather than processing bitumen at home.
 
More than 173 billion barrels of oil are believed to still be in the ground in Alberta, Petryschuk noted. Based on the current oil demand, he believes there will be enough oil for more than 100 years.
 
“In other words, we're up to our yin yang in oil,” he said. “It's only about the cost of getting it up.”
 
Every day, the U.S. consumes about 18 million barrels of oil. In the U.S. Midwest, 13% of its fuels are imported from Texas.
 
A Sarnia-Lambton bitumen upgrader could tap into that market, Petryschuk noted, by setting cheaper prices on its fuels to “buy your way in.”
 
While the Ontario Liberal government's efforts behind the Green Energy Act are “applaudable,” Petryschuk said oil is still the dominate energy source that has been responsible for pulling people out of poverty around the world.
 
“You can put up all the wind farms you want, but what happens when the wind stops blowing? You can store it, but it is not economical.”
 


Gas pipeline expansion could cost $2 billion2015-02-09
By Paul Morden, from www.theobserver.ca   The Observer

A 15-kilometre to 16-kilometre pipeline project Union Gas is investigating in south-central Lambton County is part of a $1-billion to $2-billion investment the natural gas company is considering for a major pipeline corridor in southern Ontario.

Spokesperson Andrea Stass said Union Gas is in the "very initial planning stages" for a project to build a 48-inch pipeline between its Dawn storage hub on Bentpath Line in Dawn-Euphemia to its existing Enniskillen pressure station on Oakdale Road, just north of Oil Springs, in Enniskillen Township.

"It is actually an expansion of our broader Dawn Parkway system," Stass said. "That's a natural gas transportation system that runs essentially from Dawn, up to Milton."

From there, the company's pipelines connect up with others to serve "pretty much all of Ontario, and eastern Quebec and into the Northeastern U.S."

Union Gas is planning a number of expansions along the route in 2017, including the project in Lambton County, she said.

The proposal is in the early planning stages and Union Gas is assessing market demand, Stass said.

"The reason for the expansion is there is an increased demand, we believe, to transport natural gas along that Dawn Parkway corridor," she said.

Union Gas recently published notices it has begun planning for the Dawn-Enniskillen project.

"We're at the stage where we're having initial consultations with the municipalities," Stass said.

"We have retained a firm to conduct an environment assessment, and they are starting that now."

At this point, the company hasn't settled on a route for the expanded pipeline in Lambton.

"We're not necessarily going to follow the route of the existing corridor," Stass said.

"The route will be determined through the environmental assessment process, and in consultation with the municipality, First Nations, and with landowners."

Information open houses are expected to be held this spring, Stass said.

Union Gas is currently awaiting approval from the Ontario Energy Board for a $24.3-million pipeline project to deliver more natural gas to Sarnia and the Chemical Valley from its Dawn hub.

"It is a very strategic location, in that you have a number of pipeline bringing gas in from pretty much all across North America," Stass said.

The natural gas is stored at the Dawn hub and transported east through Ontario, where it connects with other pipelines feeding Eastern Canada, Quebec and the Northeastern U.S., she said.



Union Gas seeking to build new pipeline in Lambton2015-02-07
By Paul Morden, from www.theobserver.ca   The Observer

A $24.3-million project to deliver more natural gas to Sarnia and the Chemical Valley is awaiting approval from the Ontario Energy Board.

Union Gas applied to the provincial regulator in November for approval for its Sarnia expansion project to build 4.8 kilometres of 20-inch diameter steel pipeline in St. Clair Township, between the utility's existing facilities east of Ladysmith Road and south of Rokeby Line, west of Highway 40.

"The board is currently reviewing that application," said Union Gas spokesperson Andrea Stass.

"That process usually takes a couple of months, depending on the complexity of the application, so we expect to hear from them shortly."

If the provincial regulator approves the project, construction could begin in the spring, with the pipeline expected to be in operation in the fall, Stass said.

"It's to give an additional connection to serve Sarnia, and the surrounding area, with access to the Dawn Hub and our storage facilities there."

The Dawn Hub is a large natural gas storage and trading facility Union Gas operates in Dawn-Euphemia Township.

"We have a real diverse supply base at Dawn," Stass said.

"There's about 10 different pipes that come into Dawn from all over North America."

Stass said the proposed new connect is designed to meet the growing demand for natural gas in the Sarnia area.

"There are obviously companies, like Shell and Nova, who are looking to use natural gas, and are using natural gas, but are looking to use more."

A report from staff at the energy board says evidence filed by Union Gas supports the need for the proposed pipeline.

It didn't find any issues with the proposed pipeline design, or an environmental assessment the company filed with its application, and said the utility is confident it will reach agreements with all of the landowners directly affected by the pipeline project.

The report recommended several conditions Union Gas indicated in a recent letter to the board that it would accept.

Elsewhere in Lambton County, Union Gas issued a public notice recently that it is planning to build a 48-inch diameter pipeline between the Dawn Hub and an existing station in Enniskillen Township.

If that project is approved, construction could begin as early as the summer of 2017.

The company said an information session about the Enniskillen project is planned for this spring.




Solar company hopes to power up soon2015-02-02
Paul Morden, from www.theobserver.ca The Observer

The start of construction on a $11-million pilot plant in Sarnia is taking longer than expected, but the CEO of Ubiquity Solar says it's getting closer.

The company has been assembling financing and making plans to establish a pilot plant at Sarnia's TransAlta Bluewater energy Park to make high-performance polysilicon bricks and wafers for use in photovoltaic cells for the solar energy industry.

"We're still working very hard to get this thing going," said Ian MacLellan.

"The financing has taken a little bit longer to come together than we had expected, more due just to the complexity of all the moving pieces."

Last June, the company received $3.1 million from the federal government for the pilot project.

"We now have 97% of the resources committed," MacLellan said.

"It is coming together, but there is some complexity we've had to deal with."

Ubiquity Solar has said that it wants to quickly scale up to commercial production and have a 10,000-tonne-per-year production plant operating within a few years. The company has also said it plans to create more than 500 "export-focused" jobs at the plant, within five years.

"We're pushing as hard as we can, and we'd like to get this going in the next couple of months," MacLellan said.

The company has been seeing increased interest for the polysilicon it plans to make in Sarnia, and recently signed a memorandum of understanding with a customer, he said.

"What we had anticipated in the marketplace is starting to show itself, so that's encouraging."

Since it began talking about the proposal for Sarnia, the company has simplified part of its plans for the site, MacLellan said.

"We actually anticipate still getting into some form of commercial production in 2016," he said.

"Although it has taken us longer to get the pilot plant launched, we are still looking at ways to get into production quicker."

When he spoke about the pilot plant during an event the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership held in November 2013, MacLellan said the company was attracted to Sarnia's chemical industry infrastructure, as well as the unique features of the energy park.

TransAlta purchased the former Dow Chemical lands in Sarnia to create the industrial park to attract customers for the electricity and steam it generates.

MacLellan has a background in venture capital and technology companies, and was the founder of Cambridge-based Arise Technologies that installed rooftop solar systems and built a plant in Germany to manufacture solar panels.

The plant opened as the world was falling into recession and Arise later went out of business, but there have been positive signs for the solar industry in the years since.

"We saw another record broken in 2014, worldwide," MacLellan said.

While the final numbers aren't out yet, it appears approximately 45 gigawatts of solar energy was installed last year, up from approximately 37 gigawatts in 2013, he said.

"We're seeing good, solid growth."

MacLellan said the U.S. market for solar has also been growing.

In 2014, "there was more new solar installed in the U.S. in the second quarter than in all other forms of electrical generation combined," he said.

"And, that's where we expect a lot of our product will go."

Canada's low dollar has also given the project "an unexpected boost," he said.

MacLellan said the company has an experienced team, and its efforts have been supported by all levels of government, as well as officials in Sarnia.

"We're really been quite pleased with that," he said.





Sarnia & London to explore overseas export opportunities2015-01-29
Barbara Simpson, from www.theobserver.ca The Observer

Forget the Highway 402 romance: Sarnia and London are looking to take their relationship overseas in an effort to change the regional economy.

Officials with the Sarnia and London chambers of commerce announced Wednesday they have inked a formal agreement to work together to find new global export markets for local businesses.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley and newly-elected London Mayor Matt Brown have thrown their support behind the venture, appearing together at the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce's annual general meeting Wednesday night.

“This is real,” Bradley said after the announcement. “I don't believe in press release announcements. The chamber has been working on this, and as I said, you can either moan about the economy or do something about it, so this is a real opportunity.”

Chamber officials are looking to target small-to-medium-sized businesses normally without the resources to investigate global markets. A contingent of Sarnia-Lambton and London businesses could soon start travelling together to visit potential markets in countries like Mexico, Brazil and China.

“The biggest challenge of being a border community is that you immediately think you need to sell to the U.S., but that may not be the case, so there's a tremendous amount of opportunity,” said Rory Ring, president and CEO of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce.

Some Sarnia-Lambton business sectors who could benefit from export opportunities include petrochemical, environmental services, agricultural and medical.

Political leaders pointed to Trudell Medical Limited – a London-based medical supply business – as an example of a business taking advantage of the global marketplace.

Trudell ships its medical supplies to 90 countries around the world.

“We've got a great reputation as a Canadian brand and the experience has been excellent for our company,” said Joaquim Ballès, vice-president and general counsel of Trudell Medical Limited.

But, he noted, Trudell had to forge their own export network themselves – a task other small-to-medium-sized businesses may not have the resources to do.

“There are a lot of companies who don't recognize the potential themselves nor have the time to capitalize on their potential and those tools aren't readily available, so we're trying to faciliate it,” he said.

The London Chamber of Commerce has already embarked on investigating the global marketplace, running two of its own overseas trips with local stakeholders.

But political and chamber of commerce officials stressed the importance of Southwestern Ontario coming together on an economic front Wednesday.

“We don't want to be seen as Sarnia going on its own without London or Windsor or other major centres in this region,” said Ballès, who is chair of the London chamber's Global Business Opportunities Committee.

“We need to go as a united front. Many other countries are doing it and we need to do the same.”

Aside from economic opportunities, Bradley said the partnership will hopefully create an identity for Southwestern Ontario.

“This is one way we can get Queen's Park and Ottawa's attention...”




College plans $45-million expansion2015-01-29
Paul Morden,  from www.theobserver.ca    The Observer

A new recreation and fitness centre could be built at Lambton College as the same time as a proposed $30-million health sciences building.

College president Judith Morris outlined plans to connect the projects during a breakfast held Wednesday to update community representatives on Lambton College's strategic plan and efforts to renew its London Road campus.

Morris said the college has made a proposal seeking $20 million in government funding, and it hopes to have an answer by March or April.

"If that $20 million comes through, we will be able to build the two buildings together, which will gain efficiencies," Morris said.

Combining the projects is expected to result in "an outstanding building that will share some of the facilities and be able to do more for our students than we would have had we been building two buildings at separate times," she said.

In total, the two buildings are expected to cost approximately $45 million, Morris said.

Funding is already in place for the new recreation and fitness centre, and the college is counting on raising $10 million within the community to pay one-third of the cost of the new health sciences building.

If the funding comes through, the college would like to see the combined project happen in 2016-2017, Morris said.

"It's incredibly important," she said about the plans to renew the campus originally built in 1972.

Those plans are one of six "pillars" in the college's strategic plan adopted two years ago.

"It's important for the success of our students," Morris said.

"All facilities grow older and ours are no different.

"And right now, architecturally, we can't do the things we want to do to really prepare our students."

That is particularly true for health care students who make up a large percentage of the 3,800 full-time and 6,000 part-time students at the college, Morris said.

The new health science building is "critically important" to retaining students, she said.

"Otherwise, they will go other places and they will not come back."

The college's strategic plan runs to 2018 and Morris told a room full of community partners Wednesday that a number of the plan's goals have already been met.

"We are well on our way," she said.

That includes developing mobile learning programs allowing students to use tablets and other mobile devices as part of their education.

"We've taken a very bold move, and it was a bold move, to say that all of our programs will be mobile by 2016," Morris said.

"No other college is doing that."

The presentation also outlined progress the college has made to form partnerships, enhance the student experience, and establish centres of excellence in energy and bio-industrial technologies, as well as fire and public safety.

There was also an update on work the college has been doing in recent years to move into applied research.

Morris said that while Lambton is Ontario's 18th college in size, it is ranked sixth in applied research.

"The future is very bright for Lambton College, our students and our community," she said.







$45M expansion planned at Lambton College2015-01-28

By Melanie Irwin, from blackburnnews.com   Blackburn News

Lambton College wants to build two new facilities on campus within the next two years.

College President and CEO Judith Morris updated community members on their strategic plan at a breakfast event at the College Event Centre this morning.

Morris says they’ve been working with the Student Union and have secured funding for a new Recreation and Fitness Complex.

She says they’re just awaiting the outcome of a $20-million senior government funding proposal for a new Centre for Health Education and Sustainable Care.

Morris anticipates an answer this March or April.

She says the new buildings will help keep students in Lambton County.

It’s proposed both facilities be built adjacent to the college’s current gymnasium.

The cost of the two projects would total about $45-million.


Entrepreneurship at Lambton College gets a boost2015-01-21
By Tyler Kula, f rom www.theobserver.ca The Observer

Reza Moridi, Ontario's minister of research and innovation, announced close to $200,000 Wednesday to fund entrepreneurship at Lambton College.
 
The investment, through the province's On-Campus Entrepreneurship Activities (OCEA) program, the ministry said, will be used to fund the college's Cube, an entrepreneurship hub that helps entrepreneurs develop their business ideas and acumen.
 
The OCEA program, the ministry said, is part of a provincial Youth Jobs Strategy being implemented at universities and colleges across Ontario.
 
There are 30 similar programs at post-secondary schools across the province, said Dr. Tom Corr, president and CEO of the Ontario Centres of Excellence that is overseeing the programs.
 
All but two of Ontario's 44 post-secondary institutions have on-campus entrepreneurship programs, the ministry said.
 
“Helping young entrepreneurs is another example of Ontario's Youth Jobs Strategy at work in Sarnia and across the province,” said Moridi, also minister of training, colleges and universities, in a news release.
 
“These programs will help harness their ideas, their vision and their enthusiasm and turn them into jobs for today and tomorrow.”


Great Lakes and Seaway seeing major investments2015-01-21
By Paul Morden, from www.theobserver.ca    The Observer

Electrical service improvements launched in 2014 are set to continue at Sarnia Harbour.

"This year we plan on spending a quarter million dollars on electrical facilities in the North Slip," said Peter Hungerford, Sarnia's director of economic development and corporate planning.

That follows approximately $400,000 the city spent on capital, and related, projects after taking over ownership of the port from the federal government in March 2014.

At the time, the city received $8.5 million from Ottawa to aid in operation of the harbour.

The work in Sarnia comes as a Chamber of Marine Commerce says a study found more than $4.8 billion was spent on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence shipping system from 2009 to 2013, with another $2.3 billion committed through to 2018.

That includes money spent on new ships, modernized Seaway locks, and improvements to docks and equipment.

Hungerford said Sarnia has already renewed electrical facilities on Seaway Road, as well as upgrading street and security lighting there, and at the Government Dock.

An asbestos survey of harbour buildings has also been undertaken, "and there's some minor remediation planned for this year," Hungerford said.

An electrical service upgrading program for the port is scheduled to be completed in 2016, he said.

"Over a period of 2014, 2015 and 2016, we will have spent just shy of $1 million on our electrical infrastructure at the harbour," Hungerford said.

"That will ensure vessels coming in that they have a secure supply of hydro."

City officials were aware the improvements were needed when Sarnia took over the harbour, he said.

"The facility is in pretty good shape already, but we knew that some of the transformers were older than others."

The harbour resells electricity to the ships that use the facility, providing the city operation with another source of revenue, Hungerford said.

Depending on the number of ships using the port, the city can earn $60,000 to $75,000 annually from electricity sales, he said.

Work planned this year also includes preparing for a dredging program in 2016.

"There will be various studies that will have to be undertaken and permits have to be applied for, with supporting information," Hungerford said.

Because of the port's location, silt carried in the river is deposited at the mouth of the harbour.

"We expect every five years or so, that we'll have to do what we call maintenance dredging to ensure that we can maintain seaway depth for the ships that come in," he said.

The federal money is also being used to offset daily operation costs at the port, Hungerford said.

Currently, there are two ships in the North Slip and four or five are expected to eventually winter there, he said.

Another ship is already at the Government Dock, where another two are expected.

A ship that had been at the Sidney Smith Wharf left to deliver a shipment of cargo, but it is expected back for the winter, along with a possible second ship.

There is also a ship at Mission Park.

Ice conditions have made travel on the St. Clair River a challenge in recent days, but the harbour is expecting between nine and 11 vessels over the winter, Hungerford said.

"I believe Cargill is hoping to take a ship or two this winter, as well," he added. The Cargill dock is privately owned.

Ships that winter in the city often receive repairs, creating jobs for local companies and workers.

"Everyone's trying to deliver their last load and get to a safe port for the winter," Hungerford said.

"I believe we will have a fair number of ships here."

Lambton College and SLEP holding inaugural Sarnia-Lambton Water Symposium2015-01-20
Interest in water technology could be on the rise in Sarnia-Lambton, and the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership is rolling out the welcome mat.

The agency dedicated to boosting the area's economic fortunes has been targeting water and wastewater start-ups since 2010 when the provincial government said Ontario could be a world-class leader in the sector, said Mike Ireland, senior development consultant at SLEP.

“We have a lot of existing companies here that have a lot of expertise in wastewater treatment and management practices,” he said.

“We're trying to work with them to develop the sector.”

To that end, the agency has partnered with Lambton College for its inaugural Sarnia-Lambton Water Symposium on March 26.

Hopes are to forge connections there with other municipalities outside of Sarnia-Lambton to increase the area's profile and to create opportunities, he said.

It's also an opportunity to show off the Lambton Water Centre, said Mehdi Sheikhzadeh, dean of applied research and innovation at Lambton College.

Started in 2013 with $2.3 million from the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the centre has labs at the college and Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park where it's collaborating with companies, municipalities and different organizations to develop a half dozen water and wastewater-related projects, he said.

Among them, the college is working on automating and optimizing a membrane-based technology for wastewater treatment by KmX Membrane Technologies Corp., he said. The Oakville-based company has a pilot plant in Sarnia.

The technology could potentially be used in the oil and gas sector, Sheikhzadeh said.

Meanwhile, the centre is also working on a flow monitoring project with the City of Sarnia, he said, to remotely monitor water plants.

“We do have a strong capacity here to do projects in the water and wastewater sector,” he said, adding Lambton College's applied research proficiency can help start-ups that don't necessarily have the know-how to refine and commercialize on their own.

“Our hope is to fill that gap,” he said.

Funding for the water centre lasts to 2018, he said, noting the college hopes to get new funding to continue it past that point.

Hopes are also to develop water and wastewater-related training courses for operators and engineers, he said.

“That's something that we are developing right now. We are working on a couple of different courses.”

Meanwhile, the invite-only Sarnia-Lambton Water Symposium at the Lambton College Event Centre is scheduled to include presentations on water technologies, and tours of the water centre labs, Sheikhzadeh said, noting the guest list stands at about 200.

Hopes are to make it an annual event, he said.


New regional transportation plan to be released in Sarnia2015-01-13
By Barbara Simpson, from www.lfpress.com  London Free Press

Southwestern Ontario communities who have largely been crippled by cuts to passenger rail service may finally receive just the ticket to improve their joint transit system.

Transportation consultant Greg Gormick is expected to unveil Network Southwest – a four-year plan billed as a practical and affordable solution to improving transit in the region – later this month.

Rail advocacy leaders, Southwestern Ontario mayors, federal and provincial politicians, and Via Rail representatives have been invited to attend Gormick's public presentation Jan. 31 at the Sarnia library theatre from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Gormick is developing the plan on behalf of the Southwestern Ontario Transportation Alliance (SWOTA), a network of rail advocacy groups spread out across the region.

Details of the Network Southwest plan are still in the works, but SWOTA president Terry Johnson said the four-year plan will focus on utilizing the region's existing infrastructure – rail lines and bus routes – to make them work as part of a cohesive regional transit system.

“We're really talking about things that can be developed in this term of office of the current government, so no mass procurements, no big splashy spending but practical, on-the-ground results that will improve quality of life and economic opportunities here,” he said Tuesday.

Several Southwestern Ontario communities have been hit hard by cuts to Via Rail passenger service over the last few years, sparking the creation of a slew of rail advocacy groups and ongoing discussions among mayors.

“There isn't a mayor along the route from (Sarnia) to Toronto... that isn't supporting an improved train service for sure,” said Jim Houston, president of Rail Advocacy in Lambton.

But some rail advocates and mayors suggest the difficulty lies in getting buy-in from senior levels of government, as well as railway operators, to improve passenger service.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley described getting all the stakeholders on the same page as a “recipe for gridlock.”

“The province points to Via and the federal government. The federal government points to the province's role. The province points to high-speed rail as their direction, yet they're increasing Go [Transit] service in leaps and bounds throughout the GTA region.”

At this time, Bradley said Sarnia is still in need of a second set of Via trains – one into and one out of the community.

Via Rail cancelled Sarnia's second train in the fall of 2012, pointing to declining ridership for the decision.

“It's extremely frustrating because we're the only western nation that doesn't seem to understand that rail is the way of the future as it relates to the movement of a large number of people in an environmental and cost effective way,” Bradley added.

Some rail advocates, however, argue the timing couldn't be better to see a plan of improved rail service come into fruition with a federal election just around the corner.

The Ontario government also recently announced a $29-billion, 10-year plan for transportation projects, including the long-awaited high-speed rail service set to connect Windsor, London, Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto.

“We thought the time was right [to release the Network Southwest plan] because we've got the high-speed rail plan moving forward in Ontario,” said Mabel Higgins, vice-president of Rail Advocacy in Lambton.

When asked if it is feasible to get all the stakeholders to work together for the Network Southwest plan, Johnson said all levels of government – municipal, provincial and federal – have a stake in improving the region's transit system.

“At the end of the day, all of those dollars come from the same source and the better we can persuade them to work together, the more bang we'll get for our buck and that's what this is about.”

WHAT THEY SAID:

“It's a recipe for gridlock. The province points to Via and the federal government. The federal government points to the province's role. The province points to high-speed rail as their direction, yet they're increasing Go [Transit] service in leaps and bounds throughout the GTA region.”

– Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley on the difficulty of all the stakeholders involved in improving regional transportation

“There isn't a mayor along the route from (Sarnia) to Toronto...that isn't supporting an improved train service for sure.”

– Jim Houston, president of Rail Advocacy in Lambton

“At the end of the day, all of those dollars come from the same source and the better we can persuade [governments] to work together, the more bang we'll get for our buck and that's what this is about.”

– Terry Johnson, president of Southwestern Ontario Transportation Alliance


Sarnia brewery makes a splash2015-01-09
Sarnia's Refined Fool Brewing Co. received national attention Monday on the Marilyn Denis Show.

Matt Barnes and Nathan Colquhoun, two of the owners of the recently launch craft brewery on Davis Street, were in Toronto

for the TV talk show where Refined Fool was included in a men's gift guide segment.

"She's pretty much like the Canadian Oprah," Barnes said.

"It's pretty big for us."

As part of the show, the pair brought 75 Refined Fool gift baskets to Toronto with them for members of the audience.

"We hired our mothers to put them together," Barnes said.

He and Colquhoun were also able to take a tour of the studio and watch the show being shot before handing out the baskets to the audience members.

Other gifts in the segment included a portable espresso machine, a stud finder, a facial trimmer, coffee beans and a Carnivore Club gift box.

The Sarnia pair had to be at the Toronto studio where the CTV show is shot by 8 a.m. Monday, so they rented a van, packed it with gift baskets and drove down Sunday.

"We had to keep it a secret," Barnes said.

"Even the audience didn't know when they got there that it was going to be a surprise giveaway show."

The Sarnia craft brewery was contacted by staff with the show a few months ago.

"One of the girls who works at the Marilyn Show was a friend of one of the owners here," Barnes said.

"And, they liked our style and logo, and our branding."

Refined Fool opened in May with 10 initial investors and has been growing quickly.

"It has been nuts," Barnes said.

Originally open one day a week, the Davis Street brewery is now open seven days a week, with six people on staff working through a current round of renovations needed because of the growth.

"It's beyond expectations," Barnes said.

The partners started out in the spring with a set of five-year goals.

"We've met those already," Barnes added.

"We thought we were crazy when we started," Colquhoun said.

"We didn't know how much desire there would be for craft beer. But the second we opened, our craziness was kind of put aside and we realized we were on to something."

Refined Fool came along as the craft beer industry was taking off, and the Sarnia operation has gained from being located right next to Michigan, a state "leading the way, a little bit," Barnes said.

"We're taking notes and hints from them."

One of the owners has taken on the job of looking after sales to restaurants and bars.

"I think most bars want us in Sarnia, which is nice, but we're having a hard time keeping up with demand," Barnes said.

But, he added, having such strong demand for their product, "is the best problem to have."

The baskets made for the TV show included bottles of Refined Fool's Joe Sent Me milk stout, Noble Oaf rye saison, and The Brouhaha nut brown. There was also a pair of Refined Fool pint glasses and some of the company's Fool's Gold store gift tokens.

Barnes said the company also sells gift baskets similar to those prepared for the show.

The brewery's Noble Oaf brand is expected to on sale starting in the spring in LCBO locations in Sarnia and nearby communities, such as London and Windsor, Barnes said.

The brewery has six regular brands it works to keep in stock, as well as seasonal varieties.

The Refined Fool gift basket, and a link to the craft brewery's own website, was also listed on the television show's website.

Barnes said they began receiving e-mails as soon as the segment aired.

Former UBE plant sold2015-01-07
By Tyler Kula, from www.theobserver.ca     The Observer

New manufacturing jobs could be on the way as the vacant, former UBE plant has sold to a mystery group of local investors, Sarnia's mayor says.

“This is great news for us,” said Mike Bradley, as he revealed the news at his annual state of the city address to about 50 Golden K Kiwanis club members Tuesday.

The plant, closed by Japanese-based wheel manufacturer UBE in 2009, boasts about 350,000 square feet of plant space sitting on about 72 acres near the Sarnia Chris Hadfield Airport, said Kenn Poore, the real estate agent involved in listing and selling the property.

About five years ago, Sarnia Wheels Inc. bought the property from UBE and tried to make a go of manufacturing wheels but couldn't land a large enough contract, Poore said.

All of the manufacturing assets were auctioned off in 2013, he said, and the empty building and property were recently listed at $7.25 million.

Poore opted not to reveal what the property sold for.

“It's unfortunate that Sarnia Wheels was unable to make a go of it; however, since they were unable, I think that it's in its best hands now,” he said, adding, “I'm excited for Sarnia.”

Both Bradley and Poore said the new property owners aren't ready yet to reveal their identities or intentions.

But “they have no intention of making wheels,” Poore said, noting they represent a company.

“The purchasers are well-respected, credible businesspeople in the community,” Bradley said, noting he had their permission to reveal news the property had sold.

The deal formally closed Dec. 30, Poore said.

Bradley lauded the building's size and high ceilings, as well as its location directly north of Highway 402 and near the Blue Water Bridge crossing, as an opportunity for manufacturing, storage or a combination.

“Obviously manufacturing would be the preference for them and for us,” he said, noting the plant site is one of few properties in the community available to investors seeking more than 10,000 square feet.

“We think it's very marketable and we're going to set up meetings for the investors,” Bradley said.

It's unclear when more information about the investors and their plans will be available, he said.

UBE spent about $110 million launching the plant in 2002 and expanding in 2005. At its height, it employed about 255 people.


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