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BioAmber says Sarnia plant has exceeded operational targets Read More >>

Lambton College 11th on this year's Research Infosource Inc. list of Canada's Top 50 Research Colleges Read More >>

Near capacity at Modeland Rd. Research Park Read More >>

Solar pilot plant moving ahead Read More >>

2015 News

Power grid technology to be tested in Lambton2012-12-21

By Paul Morden, from   The Observer

Technology that helps balance second-to-second fluctuations in the supply and demand on Ontario’s electricity distribution grid will get a tryout in St. Clair Township.

Ontario Power Generation announced Thursday it will be leasing out one acre of land at its Lambton Generating Station site near Courtright for the construction of the 2 MW flywheel facility.

It’s an initiative of Toronto-based NRStor Inc., for Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), the system operator for Ontario’s power grid.

Flywheel-based electricity storage works by converting the rotational energy stored in a flywheel into electricity, allowing energy to be stored and released into the distribution system when needed on a moment’s notice.

“This regulation service is that kind of fine-tuning response that meets those little gaps, on a second-to-second basis,” said IESO spokesperson Martine Holmsen.

The NRStor Inc. project is one of three announced Thursday by IESO following a request for proposals it issue earlier this year.

“Real-time, real-world experience with new sources of regulation will allow us to see how non-traditional resources behave,” said the operator’s CEO Paul Murphy.

Negotiations are currently underway with NRStor Inc., for a three-year contact, according to an IESO press release.

The project will be leasing one acre at the generation station site for three years, said Neal Kelly, spokesperson for Ontario Power Generation.

A small facility is expected to be built to demonstrate the flywheel technology aimed at helping IESO match electricity generation with demand.

“We want to integrate it into our system to see how it works,” said Holmsen.

“What we’re looking at is diversifying our base for regulation service so we have more suppliers to call on.”

The IESO press release said regulation service is becoming increasingly important to facilitate more renewable resources with variable output, such as wind and solar.

It is not clear how many jobs the project will create.

Company representatives were not immediately available for comment.

Canada looks at energy strategy2012-12-17

From informational feature to the Globe and Mail. See pdf version at 

Rolling towards an economic boon2012-12-17

By Cathy Dobson, from    The Observer

Creating an unencumbered route to truck oversize freight from Sarnia’s fabrication district on Plank Road to the St. Clair River could generate a huge economic boon.

But the cost will be in the millions.

A study released this week says the expense of clearing utility wires and widening roadways on the most feasible routes will be anywhere from $3.4 million to $6.4 million.

That’s money that might be available through federal and provincial grant programs, says David Moody with the Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership (SLEP).

“Our next step is to get feedback from local industrial companies and municipal officials to measure their enthusiasm level to make this happen,” he said. “Everyone needs to be on side.”

The study was commissioned by SLEP on behalf of a group of 40 Sarnia companies that belong to the Sarnia Lambton Industrial Alliance (SLIA).

It examined 10 potential sites where huge modules destined for shipping across Canada could be brought to the river’s edge and loaded onto lake freighters.

Local fabricators, machine shops and engineering firms are already receiving smaller jobs to service the Alberta oil sands but they want in on the bigger-ticket items.

The study, conducted by Sarnia’s MIG Engineering, could open the door to local companies securing large contracts and putting greater numbers of local tradespeople to work, Moody said.

Each of the 10 study sites was analyzed and four showed the most potential.

They included:

• Sarnia Harbour, which is the only site that does not require upgrades to handle oversize freight. However the route from Plank to Harbour Road would cost at least $3.4 million to alter.

• TransAlta (former Dow site) is considered the easiest route to deliver modules to and from manufacturers and is the least disruptive along public route. But substantial onsite improvements are needed to enable shipping, estimated at $5.7 million.

• The former Mooretown Stone Dock was used for a recent KelGor module shipment. Overhead wires through Mooretown would need to be permanently buried or lifted, and road upgrades needed at a cost of about $5 million.

• Lambton Generating Station dock has good seaway water depth right up to the dock but is the longest road route. It would require a new loading ramp and road grading. Cost estimated at $6.4 million.

Moody said Sarnia Harbour appears to be the most obvious choice but he has yet to meet with municipal officials to discuss the options.

For the purposes of the study, the enormous modules destined for Alberta were estimated to be 24 feet by 24 feet by 120 feet long, large enough to hold pipes, gauges and other pieces of fabricated steel for oil processing.

“We want to take a good look at what a route for oversized freight could mean to our region,” Moody said.

“We’re trying to address the high unemployment rate in Sarnia-Lambton in skilled trades, which was running around 35% last summer.”

Sarnia's largest roof-top solar in the works2012-12-15

By Cathy Dobson,  from   The Observer

Local businessman Henry Mehta will soon have two of the largest rooftop solar projects in Sarnia installed at his commercial properties.

Each is worth an estimated $1.5 million. Each will cover about 40,000 square feet and each project is expected to produce more than 392,000 kWh of clean, renewable energy a year.

The savings to the environment from just one of the rooftop system are the equivalent to planting 6,931 trees or replacing the emissions of 53 passenger cars, says John Millson, president of Windsor-based Great Lakes Energy Inc.

His company is installing both systems on rooftops leased from Mehta, one at 1173 Michener Rd., the other at 321 Queen St. Once they are up and running, it's anticipated each system will produce enough power for 33.7 homes each year.

“The solar program is a real opportunity,” says Millson, who served as Windsor's mayor in the late 1980s. Great Lakes Energy has installed 150 solar panel projects in Ontario, including a 10 kW microFIT for the County of Lambton on housing at 125 Euphemia St. in Sarnia.

“Henry was one of the first in Ontario to apply to the Ontario Power Authority's FIT (Feed-In Tariff) program in 2010 when applications were first accepted,” Millson said.

Great Lakes Energy will install and maintain the rooftop systems and reap the revenue from electricity generated for the grid. But Mehta said it's likely that he will ultimately make a proposal to buy the systems once he sees them operating smoothly.

“The incentive program means I'll probably get a 12% to 15% return on my money,” he said. “I'm a green guy and this was a dream. Now I'm achieving my dream.”

If Mehta doesn't decide to buy the systems, he'll continue to bring in guaranteed revenue from a 20-year lease he has with Great Lakes Energy for use of his roofs.

Great Lakes installed the racking and solar panels on Michener Road this month. Good weather moved the project along quickly.

Millson brought in a core group of his own workers and hired a local roofing company and some local tradesmen.

By late December, it's hoped the project will be connected to the grid and trial generation can begin in January. Work will then get started on Mehta's roof on Queen Street.

The expansive flat roof on Michener Road where Michener Court Restaurant is located, is now covered in 265-watt panels for as far as the eye can see.

“But people hardly know it's there because you can't see it from the ground,” Mehta pointed out.

The rooftop approach to solar generation resolves issues people may have with solar farms eating up valuable agricultural land, he said.

“It's taking advantage of natural energy from the sun and providing power,” Mehta said. “It's one of the cleanest ways to go.”

Whipping up investment2012-12-14

By Cathy Dobson,  from   The Observer

A Sarnia inventor has attracted financing from California to develop a tornado-like vortex that he believes could be the answer to cheap and plentiful power.

Louis Michaud learned this week he is the first non-American recipient of a grant from the Thiel Foundation, named for billionaire Peter Thiel, who is PayPal’s founder and the first outside investor in Facebook.

Michaud will receive $300,000 to build a prototype of an invention he calls an atmospheric vortex engine, which is expected to generate controlled 40-metre high mini tornados.

“It feels good,” said the retired Imperial Oil engineer. “I’ve pursued this for 40 years and this is our first grant.”

Michaud said he hopes to partner with Lambton College and build the prototype outdoors at the school with input from professors and students.

He has previously built two prototypes, one in his garage and one in Petrolia, but this one will be much larger, with an eight-metre diameter, and will drive a small turbine at its base.

“It will generate a small amount of power, enough to light a light bulb,” Michaud said.

By building his next prototype at the college, he hopes to publish articles that will provide the credibility needed to attract investors with pockets deep enough to finance a commercial model.

Michaud said the best case scenario would be that a prototype at Lambton College could lead to the construction of a full-size atmospheric vortex engine with a 40-metre diameter.

Cost to build a commercial model is estimated at $10 million.

“Once it’s running it requires no fuel and can produce electrical energy for as little as three cents per kilowatt hour,” Michaud said. “That’s less than half of the cost of the least expensive alternative.”

The vortex engine is “perfectly green” technology and would alleviate global warming by reducing the quantity of fuel required to meet energy needs, he said.

This week’s grant announcement is a big vote of confidence for Michaud who has taken his share of rejection.

The Ontario Centres of Excellence turned down his grant application Tuesday, just one day after he learned about the Thiel Foundation money.

Thiel’s foundation established a fund called Breakout Labs just last year that is providing the funding to Michaud’s AVEtec Energy company.

Breakout Labs focuses on “audacious scientific exploration” and requires some payback if the resulting technology is successful.


• Warm air from either solar energy or waste industrial heat is fed into a circular structure, causing the warm moist air to spin as it rises.

• It forms an “anchored” tornado-like vortex.

• The higher the tornado travels, the greater the difference in temperature between top and bottom, creating an ever-increasing force capable of spinning electricity-generating turbines installed at the base.

Buses bolstering Sarnia rail service2012-12-13

By Tyler Kula, from  The Observer

There's mixed reaction to a new combination bus and train service between Sarnia and Toronto.

As of this week, Robert Q buses will drive passengers between the Sarnia and London train stations; in London voyagers can catch connecting VIA Rail trains to Toronto, said Pat Davidson, MP for Sarnia-Lambton.

Sarnia's passenger rail service was cut in half in July when the city was left with only one train in and one train out each day.

“I think that this increases the options for people in Sarnia,” said Davidson of the arrangement, noting she's been meeting with VIA and government officials to find ways to counteract the cutback.

Monday to Friday, the new bus/train arrangement means eight options between Sarnia, London and Toronto, and five on the weekend, she said.

“The one thing that I do hope is the community will pull together and use this service,” she said, noting one reason rail service was slashed was because of low ridership.

“I think that the more people that use it, the better it is for us.”

But Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley isn't as impressed with the service.

“I wish Robert Q all the luck in the world, but looking at the scheduling, looking at the cost … sometimes it's two and a half hours to London on the scheduling,” he said.

One bus/train trip booked for Dec. 30 between Sarnia and Toronto shows a seven-hour and 37-minute trip for $75.64 — including three hours and 42 minutes waiting for the connection in London.

Sarnia to London by train in economy class costs $27, but the same class costs more than $36 by bus.

Bradley said he wonders if locals will support the model.

VIA also didn't follow through with a commitment made in August to consult with the community before enacting a new plan, Bradley said, noting a planned town hall meeting for the fall never took place.

“There was no engagement with the community on the whole service, where it would be located, the pricing, the scheduling,” he said. “And that goes back to the heart of the whole issue of dealing with VIA Rail.”

Community members would have been able to give vital input, he said. “It has the local knowledge and understanding of what works.”

But VIA did hold a workshop with representatives from municipalities in Lambton County on November 19, including Sarnia, said Mylène Bélanger, a company spokesperson.

“We presented the agreement that we were about to finalize, including the schedule,” she said, noting attending representatives were asked for input. Plans are to meet again in February.

That meeting was for staff and didn't engage the public, Bradley said.

The company is also planning to work with municipal leaders to promote “train culture” in the area, Bélanger said, and to work together to find solutions for things like long connecting wait times.

“I really don't understand why (Bradley's) saying that,” she said.

Local shipping route study completed2012-12-13

December 13, 2012, Sarnia-Lambton, Ontario - The Sarnia Lambton Industrial Alliance (SLIA) met December 11th and received the completed “Shipping Route Assessment for Oversize Freight from Sarnia-Lambton” study.

The report, commissioned by the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership on behalf of SLIA, was completed by local engineering firm MIG Engineering and led by Neil Sinclair.

Funding for the report came from the County of Lambton and the National Research Council.

The Shipping Route Assessment was initiated, based on research and activities of the SLIA executive and member companies, to identify business opportunities that match local expertise.

Significant metal fabrication needs were confirmed in the Alberta Oil Sands, as well as needs for the same type of equipment on the Canadian East Coast, and internationally. These opportunities have been identified as both immediate and long term. They have the potential to create numerous highly skilled well paying jobs for our area and will positively impact the large supply chain that exists in Sarnia-Lambton.

The report addresses the need to move oversized fabricated metal “modules” (typically 24’ x 24’ x 120’) from the many fabrication shops in the City of Sarnia and St. Clair Township to a common appropriate loading dock on the St. Clair River. From there they can be shipped by barge or freighter to their ultimate destination. It is noted that there are currently difficulties getting modules of this size from Thunder Bay to the Oil Sands, but this situation could change in the future as well.

Existing dock sites considered as potentially appropriate include: the Port of Sarnia; TransAlta (former Dow); Mooretown Dock; and Lambton Power Generation. These sites and the road routes leading to them were studied in detail. Each of the sites and routes has advantages and disadvantages to be considered.

The study provides preliminary estimates of the cost of infrastructure improvements such as permanently raising or burying power lines, re-enforcing culverts, widening intersections, and making changes to dock facilities for each site. The preliminary cost estimates range from $3.6 million (Port of Sarnia) to $7.5 million (Lambton Power Generation). SLIA will be holding further meetings to determine their own ranking of sites and to meet with the various public and private interests to obtain their advice and input as to next steps.

There are currently several potential federal and provincial programs available that may consider funding infrastructure improvements. SLIA hopes that they can help make the case for this type of funding to be secured. The recommended permanent changes, once completed, would minimize traffic disruption for local residents, allow companies to more competitively bid on these large fabrication contracts, and create many new jobs in Sarnia-Lambton.

Link to the full Shipping Route Assessment report at

Find information on the Sarnia-Lambton Industrial Alliance at

- ## -

For more information or comment on behalf of the Sarnia Lambton Industrial Alliance contact:

David Moody
Project Leader, Business Growth Services
Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership
519-332-1820 / 1-800-972-7642

VIA Rail and Robert Q offer 8 trips daily between Sarnia and Toronto2012-12-11


VIA Rail Canada and Robert Q's Airbus announced today the launch of a new partnership which will create 8 daily options between Sarnia, London and Toronto from Monday to Friday, and five on Saturdays and Sundays. This partnership will make regional transportation for residents of Southwestern Ontario easier.

Robert Q now provides a scheduled ground transportation service from VIA Rail's train stations in London and Sarnia. Users are able to seamlessly book their joint train and bus trips on VIA Rail's in a single transaction.

"Travelers in London and Sarnia will benefit from more travel options provided by our partnership with Robert Q", said VIA Rail's Chief, Marketing and Sales Officer, Steve Del Bosco. "VIA Rail is pleased to partner with Robert Q, which is known for its reliability. VIA Rail's inter-modal strategy has a significant impact on the mobility of Canadians while being at the centre of an integrated network of different passenger carriers."

"We are delighted to partner with VIA Rail in the Sarnia and London market", said Robert Q's President, Nancy Woodworth. "By combining our services we want to offer more convenient connections to London and beyond. VIA Rail and Robert Q are responding to the community and recognize that integration is best the way to serve our customers."

About Robert Q's Airbus
Robert Q's Airbus has been serving Southwestern Ontario with ground service to Toronto Pearson Airport and Detroit Metro Airport for over 40 years. With 46 trips daily they are moving over 125,000 passengers per year along the 401 corridor. Although known for the airport service, they also offer intercity service between Sarnia and London. By staying focused on safety and service excellence they have been recognized with many industry awards. Visit them at

About VIA Rail Canada
As Canada's national passenger rail service, VIA Rail Canada ( has a mandate to provide Canadian travellers with safe, efficient, and cost-effective passenger transportation services in the country's two official languages. VIA operates intercity, regional and transcontinental train services linking 450 communities through its 12,500-kilometre network. Winner of the 2011 RAC Safety Award and the 2012 Baxter Travel Media's Agent's Choice Award as voted by Canadian travel agents for the 11th time in 12 years, VIA Rail safely transports more than four million passengers annually. In 2007, the Government of Canada invested almost a billion dollars in VIA Rail. Follow our transformation on

Backgrounder: VIA Rail and Robert Q partnership


For further information:

Mylène Bélanger
Senior Advisor, Media Relations
VIA Rail Canada
514 871-6137 | 1 877 393-8787

Michelle Lautebach
Operations Manager
Robert Q's Airbus
519 672-9025 ext. 300

Ninety jobs created with reopening of Montana's Cookhouse2012-12-08

By Cathy Dobson, from   The Observer

Chris Treftlin believes in serendipity. Happy coincidences can happen for a reason, he says.

Treftlin was driving past the Lambton Mall parking lot last summer where Montana's Cookhouse had been shut down for four years and he noticed a group of men standing nearby.

“They were pointing at the building and out of the corner of my eye I saw someone I knew from my days at Pizza Hut in Toronto.” He pulled in and, sure enough, there was Vito Romita, the Pizza Hut owner that Treftlin had worked for about 20 years earlier.

“He was an mentor in my early days,” he said.

Romita, who owns numerous Montana's in the GTA, was looking at the Sarnia franchise. “He told me he wanted to reopen Montana's here but he couldn't do it without local support. He said he wanted someone to be an owner,” said Treftlin. “He felt an operating partner with a minority ownership would have some skin in the game and would treat it like their own.”

Treftlin was in.

He has an extensive background in restaurant operations and in more recent years he was operations manager for a retirement company and founded his own seniors services business in Sarnia called “Shine at Home.”

It took several months to get the paperwork done and for Treftlin to complete franchisee training from Cara, parent company to Montana's Cookhouse. Extensive renovations to the 13-year-old Sarnia restaurant began about a month ago.

Since Cara shut Sarnia's Montana's down in 2009, the company has continued to pay the rent and keep the heat on.

“The bones of the building are in great shape and will remain the same,” Treftlin said. But renovations are “in the six figures.” Virtually all of the kitchen equipment is being replaced, a new computer system is going in, the originally wood floors are being sanded and new lighting is being installed.

Treftlin has hired a four-member management team, including assistant manager Dan LeBlanc. On Dec. 11, The Workplace Group and Montana's is hosting a job fair at the restaurant, which fronts Exmouth Street.

Ninety staff members are needed including servers, bartenders, hostesses, line and prep cooks, as well as dishwashers. Treftlin said at least 100 people have already dropped off resumes. Training begins Jan. 3. Opening day is Jan. 11.

“I am relentless about finding passionate people to work here,” he said. “No one will care more than me and I want a staff that's the same. I want people who will move mountains to overcome any bad experience a customer may have had with the old location.

“After all, we know it didn't shut down because it was great.”

Treftlin said he was always a fan of the steak and ribs menu at Montana's.

“I ate here with my family when it was open and I can tell you I was one of those customers who had one of my best meals ever here, and then a few years later I had one of my worst dining experiences here too.”

In his opinion, Montana's closed in 2009 because of a “perfect storm.” The recession had hit, Walmart had moved to a new location and left a big vacancy at Lambton Mall, and the franchisee had run into some operational problems.

Times are different now, Treftlin said. “Cara has always said Sarnia is the perfect market. Based on the buzz I'm hearing, we expect to be very busy as soon as we open.”

Montana's Cookhouse will hold its job fair this Tuesday from 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. For details, visit or call 519-337-7377.

Methes receives new producer of the year award2012-12-06


LAS VEGAS, NV--(Marketwire - Dec 6, 2012) - Methes Energies International Ltd. (MEIL), a renewable energy company that offers an array of products and services to biodiesel fuel producers, announces that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Methes Energies Canada Inc., has received the New Producer of the Year award from The Canadian Renewable Fuels Association (CRFA).

The award was presented to Methes Energies by Mr. Tim Haig, Chairman of the Board of the CRFA, at the 9th Annual Canadian Renewable Fuels Summit. This year's event was held December 3-5 in Ottawa, Ontario and attracted over 200 professionals from across North America -- bringing together individuals from Canada's leading petroleum, ethanol and biodiesel companies, trade suppliers, government officials and members of the finance and investment industries.

Recently commissioned, Methes Energies' new Sombra, Ontario facility has a capacity of 13 Million gallons per year (50 MLY). The facility operates with Methes' own technology, the Denami 3000 which can produce biodiesel from a wide variety of feedstock.

"These awards celebrate the hard work and dedication of those working in our Canadian renewable fuels industry," said CRFA President W. Scott Thurlow. "As a new producer of biodiesel in Canada, Methes is helping provide Canadians with the best fuel choices for their transportation needs. After all, the transportation sector accounts for almost a quarter of Greenhouse gas emissions. Any strategy to address emissions in Canada needs to speak to vehicle emissions -- and biodiesel producers like Methes certainly have a vital role to play."

Vince Megaro, Marketing Director at Methes Energies Canada Inc., said, "We are pleased and appreciate the recognition. We are proud of our new facility. This award from the CRFA is welcomed and going out to our team members on the ground in Sombra. They have done a great job."

About CRFA: Founded in 1984, the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association works to promote and advance the use of renewable fuels for transportation -- to protect our environment by reducing harmful emissions and to grow our economy by creating the good, green-energy jobs of the future.

CRFA members and supporting organizations provide Canadians with renewable, clean-burning Ethanol and Biodiesel -- fuels that help fight climate change and combat pollution and smog. At the same time, they are working to develop the next generation of Biofuels, which will provide even greater environmental and economic benefits.

About Methes Energies International Ltd.
Methes Energies International Ltd. is a renewable energy company that offers a variety of products and services to biodiesel fuel producers. Methes also offers biodiesel processors that are unique, truly compact, fully automated state-of-the-art and continuous flow that can run on a wide variety of feedstocks. Methes markets and sells biodiesel fuel produced at its showcase production facility in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada and at its recently commissioned 13 MGY facility in Sombra, Ontario, to customers in the U.S. and Canada, as well as providing multiple biodiesel fuel solutions to its clientele. Among its services are selling commodities to its network of biodiesel producers, selling their biodiesel production and providing clients with proprietary software to operate and control their processors. Methes also remotely monitors the quality and characteristics of its clients' production, upgrades and repairs their processors and advises clients on adjusting their processes to use varying feedstock to improve the quality of their biodiesel. For more information, please visit

Small FIT solar program reopens2012-12-05

By Debora Van Brenk, from   The London free Press

The window to small solar projects reopens in Ontario on Dec. 14.

And, in contrast to the crowd of applicants trying to squeeze through the sashes at once, the province will use a more systematic way of assessing who gets first crack at contracts.

“One of the things we’ve worked very hard at is streamlining the assessment and the approval process,” Ontario Energy Minister Chris Bentley said Wednesday.

“We’ve created a fast track for those projects that are not controversial.”

That means the more routine requests — those neither near homes nor seeking to use acres of prime farmland for solar farms, for example — will find a faster ride through the process.

Bentley said the fast-tracked applications could be processed within three months of the closing deadline.

The so-called “small-FIT program” — almost all of them are solar projects, which would be contracted to provide energy to the grid at premium prices — has been on hold for months while the province sorts out new rules that would work for applicants and opponents alike.

Bentley announced the reopened program during this week’s Canadian Solar Industries Association conference.

The Ontario Power Authority will start receiving applications Dec. 14 and will soon set an end date for applicants.

Contracts will be awarded to supply a total of 200 megawatts of power, enough to power about 100,000 homes.

The “small-FIT” category includes stand-alone solar installations as well as those attached to institutions, small industry, homes and farms.

A new points system will give priority to projects that have community partners, have drawn no objections from neighbours or are from First Nations communities.

“I expect there will be a lot more than 200 megawatts of applications,” Bentley said.

The relaunch also benefits manufacturers, designers and installers of green energy, he said.

It also sustains a growing base of research into electricity storage and more advanced smart-grid technology.

The Ontario Liberals have declared they want Ontario to stop using coal-generated power by 2014.

Part of their Green Energy Act is a program of subsidies for companies that design, build and use renewable energy sources that connect to the province-wide electrical grid.

For online information about the process, or to apply:

Beating the oil sands drum2012-12-03

“The oil sands are there,” said Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley. “They’re producing oil and we have a choice as Canadians to ship it east or ship it south or ship it to China.”

Choosing the eastern option could create an estimated 60,000 new jobs in Canada, Bradley said.

Recently, Sarnia moved from being a lone voice in the eastern wilderness to finding it has allies in the premier’s offices in Quebec and New Brunswick. Both leaders supported the eastern pipeline option during a recent premiers’ gathering in Halifax.

“We’ve made some progress and there’s credibility now,” Bradley said. He credits the efforts of people like Petryschuk and fellow retired oil industry heavyweight Clem Bowman.

Bowman, a pioneer in Canada’s oil sands development who spent part of his long career heading Imperial Oil’s research centre in Sarnia, urged in 2009 to expand refining capacity in Chemical Valley instead of exporting oil sands crude, along with the jobs and investment that flows with it.

Petryschuk joined Bowman and others in creating a recent Canadian Academy of Engineering-based publication Canada: Winning as a Sustainable Energy Superpower.

Petryschuk prepared the economic analysis for its call for more bitumen - oil sands oil with the sands removed - to be refined in Canada, and Sarnia-Lambton in particular, instead of shipping it off to refiners on the U.S. gulf coast.

“Don’t get me wrong,” he said, “I don’t expect all of that bitumen to stay in Canada and get processed, but by golly we should be doing a lot more than is planned.”

By the end of the coming decade, the value of converting Canada’s oil sands production to gasoline and other fuels alone will be about $60 billion a year, Petryschuk said.

The impact would grow if additional chemical processing is added in, along with the spinoff created by that much money moving through the Canadian economy.

Petryschuk said he, Bowman and others have been working through the Bowman Centre at the Western Research Park in Sarnia.

They’ve been speaking to politicians, cultivating national journalists and generated an energy supplement published in the Globe and Mail last spring.

“I think we’re actually making some headway,” Petryschuk.

That may be, in part, because plans for both the Keystone pipeline into the U.S. and a new pipeline through British Columbia to the Pacific coast have run into trouble.

But, Petryschuk added he believes the group’s economic message is also starting to take hold in Canada. “We import $30 billion worth of chemicals into Ontario alone a year. What are we doing shipping stuff out and then bringing it back in as finished product?”

In May, the Bowman Centre will team up with the Canadian Academy of Engineering, the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership and Alberta Innovates to host a workshop in Sarnia about processing more bitumen in Canada.

Petryschuk said it was just a few years ago that Shell came close to approving a new refinery for Chemical Valley. “That was economically viable four years ago and the world hasn’t changed at all,” he said.

Bradley said he believes the whole community of Sarnia-Lambton has been ahead of the curve when it comes to seeing the potential benefits of the oil sands. “We understand the industry. We understand we have the pipeline network. We understand the benefits of being closer to markets, than the west.”

At the same time Sarnia-Lambton has been beating the drum, there has been push back from environmental groups warning about potential risks of having more oil sands crude piped east.

“Sometimes you feel that there are people who would rather win the battle than win the war,” Bradley said. “For those of us who recognize the economic benefits, we also understand the environmental side.” Sarnia-Lambton, he said, supports the call for safe pipelines and for building refineries with the highest environmental standards. “It used to be environment versus jobs,” he said.  “You can have both.”

Award winner gives back2012-11-28

By Tyler Kula, from   The Observer

An industrial environmentalist lauded for his community contributions gave back again, immediately after winning the 2012 Bluewater Sustainability Initiative's Suncor Sustainability Award.

Archie Kerr, 64, donated his $5,000 cash prize to Lambton College, setting up a $1,000 per year memorial bursary for the most improved second-year student in the three-year alternative energy engineering technology program.

The bursary is in memory of his son Kevin, who died 12 years ago at age 20 while studying in the college's environmental technology program.

“It's something that I've always wanted to do,” Kerr said, adding the bursary will help invest in youth and Sarnia-Lambton's future.

“Maybe they'll get hooked on sustainability like I have,” he said.

The former director of sustainability for North America at Lanxess, and former manager of health, environment and safety at Bayer, Kerr helped develop Canada's first biohybrid-chemistry cluster and successfully commercialized biobutanol as a biofuel.

The recent retiree who championed sustainable development is a founding member of the Bluewater Sustainability Initiative, a member of the Sarnia Lambton Environmental Association technical committee, a volunteer with Friends of the St. Clair and the St. Clair River Bi-national Advisory Council, a former director with Habitat for Humanity and a volunteer with the Inn of the Good Shepherd and Trinity Church.

“Archie really put his heart and soul into sustainability, way beyond what he did with Lanxess,” said Maike Luiken, managing director with the Bluewater Sustainability Initiative

“I think that's critical.”

George Mallay, who presented Kerr with the award, said Kerr practices what he preaches.

“I think he's a very fitting winner,” said Mallay, general manager with the Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership.

Kerr said the biggest sustainability challenges facing humanity are tackling greenhouse gas emissions, and offering help to the less fortunate.

“The simplest definition I've found for sustainability was we really haven't inherited the Earth from our forefathers, we've only borrowed it from our grandchildren,” he said.

“I've kind of hung onto it.”

Other nominees included Larry Cornelis with Return the Landscape, The Inn of the Good Shepherd, and sustainable agricultural operation Smith Homestead.

Past winners include One Tomato (2011), Terra Industries (2010), Shawn McKnight (2009) and Goodwill Industries – Essex, Kent, Lambton Inc. (2008).

To nominate someone for next year's award, email starting Jan. 14.

New Shell GM at Corunna refinery2012-11-26

By Paul Morden, from   The Observer

Sarnia-Lambton has made a good first impression on the new general manager of Shell’s Corunna refinery.

Michele Harradence arrived from Calgary with her family a few days after she was officially slated to takeover Nov. 1. “I promised the kids Halloween in Calgary before we left,” she said.

Harradence has held several posts with Shell since 1998 but Calgary remained her family’s home base until the recent move.

She called the chance to work at Shell’s local manufacturing centre “one of our best-kept secrets,” with its waterfront, family activities and sports programs for kids. “It’s really well done here,” she said. “There’s just a great community to step into, so we’re really pleased.”

Born into an Acadian family with deep roots in the Maritimes, Harradence’s father worked for Shell and she grew up in Halifax and Toronto. She earned a mechanical engineering degree, and a varsity letter in rowing, from Queen’s University and a law degree from the University of New Brunswick. After practicing engineering and construction law in Halifax, she went to work for Shell in Calgary.

“I’ve done everything from building upgraders to working in our retail business, and everything in between it seems.”

She has also facilitated Shell’s Women’s Career Development Program in North America since 2009, chaired its 2001 Canadian employee United Way campaign and was part of this year’s Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference, chairing a group that toured communities in Nunavut.

Harradence said safety is her first priority in her new post with Shell. “I certainly hold myself personally accountable that everybody on our site goes home safely every day.” That sense of accountability extends into the community, she added. “The people who live in our community absolutely give us our licence to operate.”

Since arriving, Harradence has begun getting to know the site’s workers. “They have a lot of pride in the facility and they want to ensure it runs safely, effectively, and efficiently,” she said. “That’s my job, to support them and to make sure they have what they need to be able to do that.”

The outlook for the site remains “very positive,” Harradence said, noting a decision is expected soon on a proposal to add a small-scale liquified natural gas unit.

Chemical Valley is “an important piece” of the petrochemical industry, providing an outlet for the crude from Western Canada, she said. While resources are being developed in the west, most of the customers are in the east, Harradence said. “If you draw a circle three hours around Sarnia, you’ve probably got 20 million to 30 million people,” she said. “I’m not sure we have a good appreciation for the size and the scope of the market we have here.”

NOVA Corunna revamp underway2012-11-21

By Paul Morden, from   The Observer

When work on Nova Chemicals’ $250-million revamp of its Corunna plant hits its peak late next summer, 200 construction workers are expected to be on the site, a spokesperson says. 

Work began in September on the project to enable the plant to be fed by up to 100% natural gas liquids, said Nova spokesperson Krista Hagan.  It’s part of the company’s Nova 2020 capital strategy that will be the subject of a public open house Nov. 28, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Royal Canadian Legion on Albert Street in Corunna. “We’re holding the open house for an opportunity to meet with the community members, and all interested parties, to seek stakeholder input into our development plans,” Hagan said.

Along with the revamp expected to be completed by early 2014, Nova plans to build an eight-kilometre pipeline to carry Marcellus shale natural gas liquids to the Corunna plant from an existing St. Clair River crossing at LaSalle Line.

The Nova 2020 program also proposes building a new polyethylene plant in the region, tied to an expansion at the Corunna site and increased production at its Moore polyethylene site.

“We expect those decisions will be made in 2013 but we haven’t been given specific timelines for each,” Hagan said.

“These are very ambitious projects that would have a huge impact on employment,” said Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley, chairperson of the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership.

This is be the third open house Nova has held into its expansion plans.

Bradley credits the company for giving local residents the opportunity to learn what’s proposed.  “It’s also a positive signal that these open houses are continuing.”

Hagan said construction of the pipeline is scheduled to begin in March and be completed by June.  Nova expects to begin using natural gas liquids from the Marcellus shale deposits at the beginning of the third quarter of 2013, she said. The company has called access to lower-cost natural gas liquids feedstock from the U.S. shale deposits a “game changer” for its Sarnia-Lambton plants.

Bradley said Nova’s expansion plans are “really significant” for the community. “Even though we are moving forward in bio-fuels, alternative fuels, the existing industry is a big part of our economy still,” he said.  “It’s an excellent combination to have, the industries that have been so strong in the past, plus also the future direction.”

Looking for boost to bio industry2012-11-19

By Paul Morden, From   The Observer

Sarnia-Lambton’s efforts to provide a home for the emerging bio-industry is beginning to show results, say officials.

After a century or more of turning oil into fuel, plastic and chemicals, Sarnia-Lambton began nearly a decade ago to pursue the emerging chemical sector that uses plants and other bio-mass as its starting point.

“I think we’re making good progress,” said George Mallay, general manager of the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership.

“These things, unfortunately, don’t happen as fast as you want them to happen.”

Mallay was talking to municipal politicians in Sarnia-Lambton as early as 2004 about the need for a bio-technology strategy to help attract jobs.

Since then, the community turned the former Dow Chemical offices into a research park and attracted funding for the Sustainable Chemistry Alliance and Bioindustrial Innovation Centre to set up shop to help bio-companies move their technology to commercial production.

Recently, Woodland Biofuels and KmX Corporation set up pilot plants at the research park, plus BioAmber is beginning work on an $80-million bio-succinic acid plant at the Lanxess site in Sarnia. It’s expected to create 40 permanent jobs.

Over the years, Suncor also built an ethanol plant in St. Clair Township and Solutions4CO2, a Canadian bio-tech company, decided to open a research and development facility at Trans-Alta’s Bluewater Energy Park in Sarnia.

“Everything’s looking pretty good,” said Murray McLaughlin, CEO of the Sustainable Chemical Alliance.

He said BioAmber’s decision to build in Sarnia has raised the community’s profile with bio-industry companies.

“We’re getting much more interest from companies these days, and more calls coming in,” McLaughlin said.

“Between now and spring, I’m hoping that we’ll, maybe, be at the stage of another announcement.”

McLaughlin said they’re also talking with companies interested in setting up pilot plants at the research park, where there’s room for at least one more.

Mallay said they have been working to create a “bio-hybrid chemistry complex” in Sarnia-Lambton with traditional crude oil, low-cost shale gas and new bio-industries.

Added to that is opening up more opportunities for the engineering, metal shops and other support companies that have grown up around Chemical Valley and are now gaining experience servicing bio-industries.

“We actually have more opportunities for diversity than we’re ever had,” Mallay said.

There have been challenges, include the difficulty companies face raising capital in the fallout from the recession, as well as changes in oil and gas drilling technology that have opened up new supplies in North America.

While natural gas is currently plentiful and cheap, oil prices remain high enough that the bio-industry is still competitive, McLaughlin said.

“Another thing we’re seeing now is that there’s a much higher interest from the consumer to have green products, as long as the price is right.”

That, he added, will continued moving the bio-based industry forward.

Because of that momentum, McLaughlin said he expects to see to see more partnerships develop between petroleum and bio-based companies in the next four or five years.

“I just feel that we’re in a nice spot in this industry,” he said.

“We’re in early days but there’s definite growth opportunities.”

Funding announced for Sarnia plastics company2012-11-16

By Tyler Kula, from   The Observer

The federal government announced $170,000 for Sarnia company Entropex Friday, to be used for a machine that removes odour from plastic before its recycled.

A government donation is helping a Sarnia company get the stink out of some of its recycled plastic.

Sarnia-Lambton MP Pat Davidson presented Entropex Friday with $170,000 to go towards a $500,000 odour removal reactor at its Lougar Avenue site where blue box plastics are turned into useable products.

The money is going towards design, start-up operation, data collection and data analysis costs. It's expected to be up and running by October, 2013.

Smell is caused from residual detergent and other products, said Kevin Bechard, vice president of development.

About 15% of the 105 million pounds of plastic that Entropex recycles annually will go through the reactor, he said.

“We're moving our plastic into more of an upscale market,” he said “It will typically be used in consumer product applications.”

Car parts are one example, he said. The remaining plastic produced will continue to be used for construction or marketing purposes.

Expanding into different markets may mean growth at the plant, Bechard said.

The company's created 70 new jobs since 2009 with the help of millions of dollars in federal funding.

Entropex's work has helped expand blue box collection programs to include all seven plastic resin forms, Bechard said.

Davidson made Friday's presentation on behalf of Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology).

“Entropex actually is the perfect example of what our government is trying to achieve through it's innovation agenda,” she said.

The investment was made through the National Research Council Canada's Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP).

Attracting investment to Sarnia-Lambton2012-11-15

A representative from the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership is in Chicago this week trying to attract investment from international food and beverage companies.

Matthew Slotwinski, SLEP’s agricultural and rural development co-ordinator, has pre-arranged meetings at the Private Label Trade Show with several food processors to highlight what Sarnia-Lambton can offer them.

He is working with other members of a group called the Ontario Food Cluster to draw attention to Ontario’s reputation for reliable, sustainable sources of agricultural raw materials, its state-of-the-art automated food processing methods and world-class food safety.

“This is an excellent opportunity for the municipalities in the Ontario Food Cluster to work together to pursue companies that have expressed an interest in investing in Ontario,” said Slotwinski in a written statement. “By collaborating with other members of the group, we will be able to effectively emphasize the opportunities available to food processors in Ontario as well as Lambton County.”

The 2012 Private Label Manufacturers Association trade show is attended by more than 2,000 exhibitors representing over 35 countries, all seeking to expand their share of the large global food and beverage processing market.

Community branding underway2012-11-14

From  CHOK Radio

Sarnia-Lambton is launching an intensive community-wide branding initiative. Economic Partnership General Manager George Mallay says initially, their task will be to conduct thorough research including an assessment of the environment, and perceptions of visitors, residents and stakeholders.

North Star Destination Strategies and Toronto-based Yfactor have been hired to assist in the process which will lead to the creation of a community logo and tagline. The 65 thousand dollar initiative should be completed by next June.

Selling Sarnia-Lambton abroad2012-11-14

From    The Observer

What is Sarnia-Lambton? A new branding project is looking to find the answer and broadcast it to the world.

The Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership (SLEP) is leading a community-wide branding initiative seeking to create a unified marketing strategy to attract business, tourism and permanent residents.

The $65,000 project will create a new logo and tagline for Sarnia-Lambton.

The largely research-based initiative will also provide valuable information about the perception of Sarnia-Lambton both within and outside the community, said SLEP general manager George Mallay.

“The key thing is the richness of the information we get, and how we use that information to be more effective in our marketing,” Mallay said.

Nashville-based North Star Destination Strategies and Toronto-based Yfactor were contracted after a bidding process, Mallay said.

North Star has developed brands for more than 150 communities, and will handle most of the research duties. Yfactor will focus more on the creative side, Mallay said.

“We think we have the best of both worlds,” Mallay said.

A long list of community stakeholders have partnered in the project, including Lambton College, Tourism Sarnia-Lambton and the Sarnia-Lambton Real Estate Board.

SLEP will provide $20,000 of county funding, with the partners picking up the rest of the tab.

The time was right to identify a changing Sarnia-Lambton community, said Mayor Mike Bradley.

While petrochemicals remain a foundation of the area, the community has largely moved away from the Chemical Valley image toward alternative fuels, Bradley said.

Sarnia is the home to the Bioindustrial Innovation Centre of Canada and an $80 million BioAmber plant currently under construction, he noted.

“It’s well known in (the bio-industrial) community that this is the place to locate and this is where the expertise is,” he said.

“If we had a brand in the past, it was primarily Chemical Valley,” said Mallay, adding that the chemical industry is still a critical part of the economy “but we also need something that involves the county and the city.”

While some local organizations use community-oriented slogans, this will be the first tagline for Sarnia-Lambton as a whole, Mallay said.

“We need to develop more of an understanding of what our promise is across the whole county,” he said.

The community is looking to attract students, employees entrepreneurs and retirees, Bradley said.

Sarnia has seen its declining population trend reversed in recent census numbers, while Lambton County’s population numbers have dropped. Lambton College has an all-time high enrolment, but Sarnia was recently listed dead last in entrepreneurship among 103 Canadian cities in a recent study.

Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership promoting Lambton at Private Label Trade Show2012-11-14

November 14, 2012, Sarnia-Lambton, Ontario - The Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership is promoting the benefits of Lambton County this week in Chicago at the 2012 Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) Private Label Trade Show. The event is America’s largest private label tradeshow, with this years show presenting more than 2000 exhibitors representing more than 35 countries, all seeking to expand their share of the large global food and beverage processing market.

Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership’s Agricultural and Rural Development Coordinator Matthew Slotwinski is one of several Ontario Food Cluster representatives attending the show as part of the Canadian agri-food sector’s leading “store brand,” the Ontario Food Cluster. The group is encouraging international food and beverage buyers and suppliers to invest and become part of Ontario’s $39 billion, 3200-company food and beverage processing sector.

“This is an excellent opportunity for the municipalities in the Ontario Food Cluster to work together to pursue companies that have expressed an interest in investing in Ontario,” said Slotwinski. “By collaborating with other members of the group, we will be able to effectively emphasize the opportunities available to food processors in Ontario as well as Lambton County”.

On the heels of private label dollar share hitting a record high of $59.9 billion in 2011, economic development executives from the Ontario Food Cluster, have been able to pre-arrange meetings with several food processors where they will highlight the cluster’s stellar reputation for reliable, sustainable sources of agricultural raw materials, state-of-the-art automated food processing methods, and world-class food safety.

As Ontario’s food sector is currently recognized as the second largest in North America, with over $39 billion in business and 130 000 employees, the Province of Ontario considers the food processing industry to be strategic for investment attraction.

“We believe the strength of the areas agricultural industry and Sarnia-Lambton’s strategic location will allow us to attract new investment opportunities to the region,” said Slotwinski.

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For further information contact:

Matthew Slotwinski
Agriculture and Rural Development Coordinator
Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership

Sarnia-Lambton, Ontario Launches Community-Wide Branding Initiative2012-11-14

For Immediate Release

November 14, 2012, Sarnia-Lambton, Ontario - Sarnia-Lambton, Ontario, has launched an intensive branding program aimed to discover, define, and design the area’s competitive differentiator so it can stand out in the marketplace. The ultimate goal of this community-wide initiative is to attract more residents, businesses, and visitors to the region.

Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership Chair Mayor Mike Bradley said, “The branding process of the branding exercise and research from it will be an effective way for gaining a strong understanding of community perceptions and attributes and for establishing a more unified effort for promoting the County.”

The brand exercise is being managed through the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership with a coalition of partners and supporters that includes: County of Lambton, Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce, Lambton College, Tourism Sarnia-Lambton, Grand Bend and Area Chamber of Commerce, Community Round Table, Blue Water Bridge Authority, Sarnia-Lambton Workforce Development Board, Local Immigration Partnership, Sarnia-Lambton Real Estate Board, Western Research Park, and the Sarnia-Lambton Business Development Corporation.

To bring outside expertise and objectivity to the project, Sarnia-Lambton has partnered with Nashville-based North Star Destination Strategies and Toronto-based Yfactor. North Star has helped develop brands for more than 150 cities, regions, communities, and municipalities; and Yfactor has created and implemented extensive community branding and marketing programs in both Canada and the US.

“Over the next several months, using our Community BrandPrint process, we’ll be digging out Sarnia-Lambton’s competitive identity that is derived from the history, the culture, the geography, and the society of a place,” said Don McEachern, CEO of North Star. “Branding Sarnia-Lambton will give community members the tools to effectively manage the conversation that is taking place in order to build a reputation that is fair, honest, and powerful.”

The integrated process includes research, strategy, and creative development. The first stage is research and comprises about 80% of the work. “Here we determine the state of your existing brand,” said McEachern. More than 15 pieces of qualitative and quantitative research will paint a thorough picture of where Sarnia-Lambton is today. This research includes an assessment of the environment; perceptions of visitors, residents and stakeholders; and a review of current communications and the competition.

Using that research, North Star will develop a brand strategy that is relevant to Sarnia-Lambton’s current situation but also differentiates the region to consumers and businesses. “The research will not only tell our existing story, it will yield insights that point us in the direction of our desired future story,” said Lambton County Warden, Steve Arnold

The final stage of the project will involve the collaboration with creative design firm Yfactor to develop the logo and tagline that will form the foundation of the brand identity for Sarnia-Lambton. “We will work through an extensive creative process to develop a new logo and tagline based on the research and strategies identified by North Star that will be used by all community partners. The result will be a logo and tagline that is truly representative of Sarnia-Lambton’s past, present, and future; of the people, the environment, and those attributes that differentiate Sarnia-Lambton from anywhere else,” says Yfactor CEO, Anya Codack. “But a brand is so much more than that. Your community needs to wear this new brand like a second skin. We will provide you with the creative tools and ideas to make that happen.” This includes ideas for communications, signage, special events, community outreach, online initiatives, merchandising, and more.

Economic Partnership General Manager, George Mallay, said, “The branding process will commence in the next month and is expected to be completed by June 2013.”

If you are interested in learning more about Sarnia-Lambton, go to To learn more about North Star Destination Strategies, go to For information on Yfactor go to


For further information contact:

George Mallay, General Manager
Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership
519-332-1820, extension 232

Don McEachern, CEO
North Star Destination Strategies
615-232-2103, extension 26

Anya Codack, CEO
Yfactor Inc.
416-977-9724, extension 509

HGS continues to accept online applications2012-11-02

November 02, 2012 - Sarnia-Lambton ON – Representatives of HGS Canada are ensuring that those who were not able to attend the company’s job fair on Monday and Tuesday can still bring themselves to the company’s attention.

“Our applicant portal,, will be left open until we have reached a final decision on our next location,” said Kathy Follett-Lloyd, Vice President of Human Resources for HGS. "Despite the weather we were very encouraged by the people that we met at the Sarnia job fair. We will be reviewing the applications and resumes we collected in the coming months, but we want to ensure that all applicants have an opportunity to apply.”

HGS is looking at potentially locating a new 500 employee inbound-only contact centre in Sarnia-Lambton.

The Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership is urging local job seekers to apply as soon as possible on-line at Economic Partnership General Manager George Mallay said, “We feel the severe weather did have an impact on attendance at the job fair and having the ability to continue to receive applications on-line will give HGS a more complete picture of the labor force in Sarnia. We appreciate HGS offering this option for those that could not make it to the job fair during the storm.”

HGS offers many benefits to their employees including:
- Full time positions
- Inbound customer service calls only
- Extensive Health / Dental benefits package
- Additional performance compensation
- AIR MILES rewards
- Advancement opportunities
- $2/hr bilingual premium

To apply on-line go to

- ## -

For further information contact:
George Mallay
Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership
519-332-1820, extension 232


Kathy Follett-Lloyd
HGS Canada
Vice President, Human Resources
(902) 629-2649

New oil contacts made at conference2012-11-01

November 01, 2012, Sarnia-Lambton, Ontario - Alberta oil companies are looking east for help developing the oil sands industry and Sarnia-Lambton is now squarely in their sights.

Sarnia Lambton Industrial Alliance Chairman Paul Healy and David Moody of Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership recently spoke with 600 oil executives at the Canadian Heavy Oil Association Conference in Calgary and it has generated a lot of interest.

Healy and Moody addressed the Calgary crowd, explaining how Sarnia Lambton’s industrial fabricators could fill an unmet labour need for the oil sands industry. Moody says about 20 executives wanted to explore the possibilities of working with Sarnia-Lambton businesses. “Many more indicated they would be passing the word along within their companies that there is capacity within Canada that matches to their needs and Sarnia-Lambton is where they can find it,” says Moody. “They all agree the supply ability of the companies in Alberta is not nearly adequate and they feel sourcing within Canada makes total sense. Sourcing from an area that is already experienced in the oil industry seems to be the logical first choice.”

Healy agrees. “I sensed a bit of frustration to what their current providers can give. They all want to expand at the same time…There just aren’t enough workers.”

Healy says some of the companies have tried to use off-shore companies where labour is cheap but found the quality of workmanship was not that good. He says they’re now turning to Ontario where workers are paid a similar base hourly rate, but total labour costs are still far lower than in Alberta. “In Ontario there is no living away from home allowance, no travel expenses for the workers…no hourly premiums for the workers…It’s big savings that more than pay for the shipping costs.”

And Healy says Sarnia-Lambton workers will provide quality workmanship on time. “We will have better productivity in Sarnia. Now the oil companies are paying for time and materials for construction…we bid on a unit price in Sarnia-Lambton,” he says, explaining companies can be assured there won’t be cost overruns with a unit price.

Healy says the contacts made at the Calgary conference are part of a two-year effort to bring oil sands fabricating work to Sarnia-Lambton; an effort which is starting to pay off.

While the Sarnia Lambton Industrial Alliance works to build a heavy haul route to the St. Clair River to open up southern Ontario for massive fabricating projects, Healy says there are plenty of opportunities for fabricators to work with smaller oil-patch companies building smaller modules.

The conference even highlights the opportunities Sarnia-Lambton has to work in the off-shore oil industry on the East Coast. “While we work to cut a path between Ontario and Alberta for the larger modules, there will be still business in the smaller modules,” says Healy. “And the East Coast has expressed some interest too…because the Great Lakes system ships right out to the oil platforms is a no-brainer to go that way.”

- ## -

For further information contact:

David Moody
Project Leader, Business Growth Services
Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership
Office 519-332-1820 / Mobile 519-381-9633

Paul Healy
Sarnia-Lambton Industrial Alliance
Mobile 519-339-6681

Job fair held amid storm2012-10-31

By Dan Punch, from   The Observer

Sarnia-Lambton job hopefuls braved whipping winds and pouring rain in an attempt to lure a major employer to town Tuesday.

Hinduja Global Solutions (HGS) Canada wrapped up its two-day job fair at the Lambton Inn, accepting applications for a new call centre potentially headed for Sarnia.

HGS has been auditioning communities for the 400 to 500-seat inbound call centre and spent two days last week in Chatham-Kent.

The two neighbouring communities are among four to five regions currently in the running, said vice president of human resources Kathy Follett-Lloyd.

“We’ve met a lot of sincere people who want to work, and they’re exuding that as they come in,” Follett-Lloyd said.

Sarnia is in the running because of its labour market and a potential turnkey solution for a location in the vacant NCO call centre building, which closed earlier this year.

“When you lose a call center from our industry, it leaves behind a very talented work force,” she noted.

HGS came to Sarnia during two days of severe weather brought on by Hurricane Sandy which knocked down trees and left much of the city without power.

Follett-Lloyd said she didn’t know the total number of applicants in Sarnia, but the turn-out in such extreme weather showed dedication. There were applicants lined up at 10 a.m. both days when the doors opened.

Kevin McPhail applied with his sights set on moving up the ladder. The 25-year-old is a graduate of Lambton College’s information technology program with all his certifications.

Call centres have a lot of room for growth - he could start in customer service and work his way into an IT position, he said.

McPhail is currently unemployed, and says the local job market is tough for someone with his skill set. His college program set the expectation high that he’d land a job in Chemical Valley after graduation, he said.

“They pave the road in gold, but once you get out in the real world, it’s not like that,” he said.

McPhail worked at NCO for two-and-half years but jumped ship just before it closed, killing at least 400 jobs.

The Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership (SLEP) was hoping for 1,500 local applicants to help sell the community to HGS, said Geoff Greening.

Those who came out were very interested, he noted.

Online applications will remain open at until the company makes its decision, but there is currently no timetable, Follett-Lloyd said.

HGS has opened call centres the previous three springs - in Belleville, North Bay and Thunder Bay - and hopes to launch this one in early 2013.

HGS Contact Centre Job Fair Monday2012-10-26

October 26, 2012 - Sarnia-Lambton ON – Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership want to remind residents of the upcoming HGS job fair this Monday and Tuesday, October 29th and 30th from 10:00am to 7:00pm at the Lambton Inn.

Sarnia Transit will have two temporary bus stops on Route 9 (Lambton College) near the Lambton Inn marked with temporary yellow bus stops. One will be located on the south side of London Road just before the entrance into Lambton College, the other one is on the east side of the road leading out of the College. Those riding Sarnia Transit to the job fair will also be provided with two complimentary ride coupons which will be distributed at the job fair by volunteers.

Joanne Davey of the NCO Action Centre said "We are encouraging all of our clients to go to the job fair on Monday and Tuesday. All of our clients have excellent work experience in all aspects of the contact centre industry and this is a great opportunity for our clients as well as other Lambton residents with customer service experience. In preparation for the job fair we have been promoting the job fair and running additional resume writing courses to help our clients and Sarnia succeed in attracting this contact centre."

Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership General Manager George Mallay said, “It is really important for applicants at all levels to come out to the job fair on Monday & Tuesday in order for HGS to make a fair assessment of the quality of the work force that Sarnia-Lambton offers” Mallay added, “There is an opportunity to apply on-line before the job fair, but it is very important that applicants come to the job fair to meet the HGS team.”

Contact centre company HGS Canada is evaluating the local employment market as part of its site selection process. The company is looking at potentially locating a new 500 employee site in Sarnia-Lambton. The site would create hundreds of quality new jobs, including frontline, business support, and management positions.

The job fair will provide everyone the opportunity to find out more about the company and what makes HGS so different in the contact centre industry.

For more information and to apply now, visit

Local manufacturers make oil patch pitch2012-10-23

From   The Observer

Sarnia-Lambton’s industrial manufacturers are set to make a sales pitch Friday in Calgary to as many as 600 representatives of Canada’s oil business.

Paul Healy, chairperson of the Sarnia Lambton Industrial Alliance, and Dave Moody, with the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership, will speak at a conference of the Canadian Heavy Oil Association about Chemical Valley fabrication firms, machine shops, skilled trades, engineering and environmental services firms eager to bid for work in Western Canada.

Moody said the partnership has attended oil conferences in the west before but “this is the first time that we’ve been invited out as speakers.”

An article about Sarnia-Lambton’s efforts to attract work in the oil patch published recently in the Daily Oil Bulletin caught the attention of conference organizers, Moody said.

It followed a stop by a delegation with the Calgary-based In Situ Oil Sands Alliance made earlier this year in Sarnia.

Expansion in the oil sands is expected to continue for decades but fabricators in western Canada can’t meet all of the demand.

“We have a lot of unemployment here in the skilled trades that are an exact match to what’s needed out there,” Moody said.

The alliance came together in Sarnia-Lambton to look for ways to attract customers beyond Chemical Valley, where demand has been shrinking.

Building pieces of oil facilities in modules to be shipped west is an option the group of 40 companies has been pursuing.

“We’ve got a lot of capabilities here, a lot of capacity here,” Moody said.

He and Healy will make a 20-minute presentation during a Friday morning conference session on addressing capital costs.

Moody said they will spread the word about the Chemical Valley “and why it is that our companies here already know about what’s needed in the oil business.”

He noted the Daily Oil Bulletin reporter and one of the conference organizers are both originally from Sarnia.

Sarnia-Lambton has many of those connections in Alberta, he said. “Unfortunately there are also many that have little or no idea that we are in the business.”

Moody said there is a lot of bidding going on now by local companies for work in the oil patch.

“A year or so ago, we were trying to break the glass ceiling to even get on the bidders’ list,” he said.

“We consider it a real breakthrough, and I understand a number of companies are getting close.”

The alliance is awaiting a report it commissioned, with financial help from Lambton County, from MIG Engineering to identify a transportation corridor from the fabrication shops to the St. Clair River. It will also identify improvements needed on the route.

“Hopefully that will lead to getting some infrastructure money to make those improvements,” Moody said.

Prefabricated modules used in oil facility construction are too large to move by rail. The Port of Sarnia, and the roads leading to it, also can’t accommodate them.

That report is scheduled to be delivered to the alliance at the end of the month, Moody said.

Sarnia Transit offers complimentary bus passes to job fair attendees2012-10-22

Sarnia-Lambton ON – Sarnia Transit and the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership are pleased to announce that Sarnia Transit will provide complimentary bus passes for those traveling by bus to the upcoming HGS Job Fair. Those attending the job fair via Sarnia Transit will each be provided with two free ride coupons, which will be distributed at the job fair by the organizers.

The HGS Job Fair is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., October 29 and 30, at the Lambton Inn, 1485 London Road, Sarnia.

“This is a great opportunity for Sarnia Transit to support the HGS Job Fair. We are hopeful that this support will help the job fair reach the target of 1,500 applicants over the two days,” said Jim Stevens, Director of Transit. “Sarnia Transit is delighted to have the opportunity to be a part of this job fair.”

On both days of the event, for added convenience for job fair attendees, a temporary bus stop on Route 9 (Lambton College) will be established near the Lambton Inn. Sarnia Transit is also promoting the job fair through on-bus and bus terminal advertising.

Contact centre company HGS Canada is evaluating the local employment market as part of its site selection process. The company is looking at potentially locating a new 500 employee site in Sarnia-Lambton. The site would create hundreds of quality new jobs, including frontline, business support, and management positions.

The job fair will provide everyone the opportunity to find out more about the company and what makes HGS so different in the contact centre industry.

Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership General Manager George Mallay said, “We want all levels of qualified applicants from customer support agents to supervisors, trainers, and site management to come to the job fair. With the support of Sarnia Transit and many other community partners including Lambton College, the libraries, local employment agencies, municipal offices, arenas, we expect a good turnout on October 29th and 30th to meet the HGS team.” Mallay added, “There is an opportunity to apply on-line before the job fair, but it is important that applicants also come out to the job fair to understand who HGS is and meet their staff.”

For more information and to apply now, visit

Lambton Shores blooms2012-10-18

From   The Observer

Sarnia Coun. Anne Marie Gillis already has her eye on next year’s Communities in Bloom competition.

Sarnia came away with five blooms, as well as special recognition for its Return the Landscape and One Tomato projects, but not the national prize in its population category at the 18th annual edition of the program’s national awards announced on the weekend in Edmonton.

That honour went to Granby Quebec.

But Sarnia still had a strong showing, said Gillis, who attended the ceremonies as the city’s Communities in Bloom chairperson. “We increased the value of our marks by four percentage point,” she said. “I was really, really glad to see that.”

This was Sarnia’s sixth year participating in Communities in Bloom, and third year competing at the national level. The non-profit organization works to foster civic pride, environmental responsibility and beautification in communities. It sends judges to participating communities that award it a score and a number of “blooms,” as well as selecting top communities in several population categories.

Sarnia competes in the over 50,001 population category.

Lambton Shores won this year’s national award for communities with populations between 10,001 and 20,000. It also received an outstanding achievement award for community involvement.

Gillis said she hasn’t given up on seeing Sarnia bring home a national award some day, adding she’s returning “loaded with ideas” gathered from other cities at the event. “The judges said we are so close to winning.”

Gillis said she has heard positive comments, from both residents and visitors, about the city since it became involved in Communities in Bloom.

The most recent program judges were also encouraging, she said. “They said there was a new energy to the city.”

Gillis said she was also able to use the trip to “showcase” Sarnia by passing along information from the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership to officials from Edmonton-area communities, including many with industries in the oil patch. “That’s the area we’re trying to make inroads in,” she said.

Biofuels plant ready to roll2012-10-15

By paul Morden,  from   The Observer

SARNIA - Woodland Biofuels’ $12-million Sarnia demonstration plant is up and could be producing ethanol from wood waste by the end of the year, says president Greg Nuttall.

The newly-built facility is located at the Western University Research Park’s Bioindustrial Innovation Centre in Sarnia.

“It’s all assembled and commissioning is underway,” Nuttall said. “We expect to be producing ethanol by the end of this year, early next year.”

The plant will allow Mississauga-based Woodland Biofuels Inc., to demonstrate technology for converting waste biomass feed stocks into ethanol.

“Wood waste is our initial feedstock but we could take any kind of biomass,” Nuttall said. That includes agricultural waste.

More than 25 workers were involved in construction of the demonstration plant about 10 will be involved in the operation of the plant, Nuttall said.

“It’s not a small plant,” he added. “It’s 80-feet high at its tallest point.” That’s about the same height a commercial-scale plant would be built, he said. “The diameter would be bigger, but the height would be the same.”

Nuttall said they’re excited to reach this point. “This is what we’ve been working for, in my case, for seven years,” he said.

The demonstration plant will knit together what the company says is a series of proven technologies to make fuel ethanol from wood waste.

“We will show, we think, a projected commercial cost of production that is significantly less than what it currently costs oil companies to produce a gallon of gasoline,” Nuttall said.

The next step will be developing a commercial-size plant.

A commercial plant that uses wood waste isn’t likely to be built in Sarnia-Lambton, according to Nuttall.

“There just isn’t a lot of wood waste in the area,” he said. “If we can find an alternative source of biomass, such as agricultural waste, the great thing about Sarnia is that it has a really significant pool of chemical engineer-type expertise and plant-operating expertise.” That expertise “has been invaluable” in getting the demonstration plant to this point, Nuttall said.

Woodland expects the demonstration plant will produce data needed to scale up to a commercial plant within about six months, he said. “We’re going to continue to operate the demonstration plant after that. It is essentially going to become our R and D centre.”

Once the data’s in place, the company will turn it’s attention to a commercial-scale plant. “Which,” Nuttall said, “will probably take a couple of years to complete.”

The energy market is in a good place currently for Woodland Biofuels’ technology, according to Nuttall. The market for corn ethanol in the U.S. has been basically capped, he said. “It’s made of food and food is not the best thing to be making your gas from.” He added, “Just about everybody is behind making automotive fuel from non-food feed stocks. “And, there are lots of incentives in place to do that.”

If a company can do that at a lower cost than using fossil fuels, “that’s the icing on the cake,” Nuttall said.

Ontario contributed $4 million from its Innovation Demonstration Fund to the demonstration plant.

Sarnia-Lambton and HGS Canada Announcement2012-10-04

Sarnia-Lambton ON – Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership and HGS Canada Inc. are excited to announce the dates of an upcoming Job Fair where the Contact Centre Company HGS Canada will evaluate the local employment market. The event is part of the site selection process for the global company who is looking at a potential new 500-employee site in the area. The site would create hundreds of quality new jobs, which includes both frontline, business support and management positions.

The Job Fair will be held at the Lambton Inn, 1457 London Road in Sarnia on both October 29th and October 30th from 10 am until 7 pm. For more information and to apply now, visit


Company seeking applicants at upcoming job fair2012-10-04

From   The Observer

An international company is looking to attract potential workers for a possible 500-employee call centre centre in Sarnia.

The Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership and HGS (Hinduja Global Solutions) Canada Inc. have announced a job fair will be held Oct. 29 and 30 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. both days at the Lambton Inn — 1457 London Rd.

The contact centre company plans to evaluate the local employment market as part of a site selection process, officials said, adding a Sarnia site could create hundreds of quality new jobs.

“HGS plan an initial creation of approximately 200 jobs, with the chance of further expansion within the year,” said Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley, noting a new call centre is welcome in the city.

“We have heard nothing but encouraging news about HGS Canada and we are delighted to have the opportunity to be part of their selection process," he said.

The company began groundwork to expand into Ontario earlier this year, speaking with officials at a number of possible locations for the new site.

“The response we have received in the area so far has been very supportive,” said Ross Beattie, company president and CEO. “Our team is looking to meet many skilled people to help us in our selection process."

Qualified applicants are being sought for a variety of positions. Customer support agents, supervisors, trainers, recruiters, HR, IT support, and site management are needed.

It’s hoped more than 1,500 applicants will submit resumes.

To apply, visit, and for more information, visit

HGS Sarnia job fair2012-10-04

From   CHOK Radio

A job fair is planned as a global company looks at a potential new 500 employee call centre in the Sarnia area.

HGS Canada Incorporated and the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership have announced a job fair will be held at the Lambton Inn on London Road October 29th and 30th from 10am till 7pm.

Mayor Mike Bradley says getting people out to the Job Fair is critical in showing Sarnia has the required workforce for the new business. He says HGS plans to initially create about 200 jobs with the chance of further expansion within the year.

Economic Partnership G-M George Mallay says Sarnia is in competition with Chatham Kent. He says the target is to have over 15 hundred applicants submit resumes over the two day job fair.

Two major call centres have closed in recent months locally. HGS Senior Vice President of Business Development John Hooper says U-S companies pulling out of Canada has been beneficial to them.

More information on how to apply can be found at HGS Canada has opened three sites in Ontario in the past two years in Thunder Bay, North Bay and Belleville.

Buses to augment lost Sarnia train service2012-09-12

By Cathy Dobson, from   The Observer

VIA Rail has struck a deal with Robert Q bus service to augment Sarnia’s passenger rail service, which saw deep cuts this summer.

It’s anticipated Robert Q busses between Sarnia and London will depart and arrive at VIA Rail stations, but details of the plan are not yet known.

VIA Rail President and CEO Marc Laliberte announced the agreement Friday during a speech for the Toronto Board of Trade.

“This will increase mobility and help make the most efficient use of the entire public transport system,” Laliberte said.

Sarnia’s passenger rail service was cut in half in July when the city was left with only one train in and one train out each day.

The station will also become unmanned when ticket agents are laid off Oct. 24. The agents were originally going to be laid off in late September but a one-month reprieve was announced this week in order to accommodate “other service adjustments,” said VIA Rail spokesperson Mylene Belanger.

Sarnia MP Pat Davidson said Friday she understands VIA Rail and Robert Q will integrate their web ticketing facilities, harmonize their schedules and cross-promote intermodal services.

“It’s hoped those efforts will increase the mobility of commuters in our region,” Davidson said.

New national rail transport vision kick starts in high gear2012-09-11

September 11, 2012 - Sarnia-Lambton, Ontario – One hundred and fifty Sarnia-Lambton residents filled the room at the Lambton Inn, Sarnia, on Saturday for the first of a series of Town Hall Workshops regarding VIA Rail.

"There could not have been a more appropriate place than Sarnia to begin our transcontinental tour," said Greg Gormick, project director for Transport Action's National Dream Renewed and facilitator of Saturday’s Workshop. "Sarnia personifies the need for modern, efficient, and customer-driven rail passenger service all across Canada.”

The workshops are giving Canadian citizens an opportunity to provide their comments and suggestions regarding the recent cuts and continued downgrading of VIA Rail passenger service across Canada. Following the workshops Gormick and Transport Action Canada will create a new rail passenger vision that will be provided to VIA, Minister of State for Transport Steven Fletcher, and all MPs.

Sticking to a non-partisan format, Saturday’s workshop constructively addressed the “six pillars of a modern, affordable and sustainable VIA Rail Canada”. Local residents were keen to offer both personal insights into how the recent rail cuts have negatively affected their lives, and suggestions on how it can be improved.

“It’s frustrating because if we’re paying for this service out of our tax dollars, what are we getting in return?” asked Sarnian Christine Preece. “And I’m not going to go away until we get the answers.” Preece works in London and commuted with VIA until the afternoon train was eliminated. She’s since started a petition she plans to take to national politicians. Attendees applauded as others voiced their frustration with how the Crown corporation is run. People complained of high ticket prices and poor connectivity to trains beyond London.

“Thanks to the public, municipal, and business community support we received in Sarnia, we're starting this project on an extremely high note,” said Gormick. “It's time VIA and our politicians realize that Canadians want a modern, efficient and customer-driven rail passenger service, just like those found in every other industrialized nation around the globe. The people of Sarnia delivered that message loud and clear with their splendid turnout at our first National Dream Renewed town hall workshop. We intend to take that message from Sarnians clear across this land and make the long overdue renewal of VIA Rail Canada a reality."

Cogeco TV will air a large portion of the Town Hall Workshop locally on Tuesday, September 18, at 6:30 p.m.

Upcoming Town Hall Workshops are slated for Sudbury, Stratford, Halifax, Moncton, Campbelton, Bathurst, Miramichi, Edmundston, and Kitchener-Waterloo; with more to follow.

More information on Transport Action Canada’s can be found at their website,

- ## -

For further information contact:
George Mallay, General Manager
Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership

VIA Rail promises better communication2012-08-31

By Paul Morden, from   The Observer

VIA Rail, following a 10-mayor meeting with company brass Thursday, is promising to do a better job consulting before making changes to rail service.

“There was some blood on the floor and they apologized for no consultation with the communities,” said Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley.

VIA’s passenger service in and out of Sarnia was cut in half at the end of July, leaving one train arriving daily at 10:18 p.m. and one leaving at 6:11 a.m.

The station will no longer have ticket agents by the end of September.

Thursday’s meeting at London City Hall was with VIA’s president and other railway officials.

“They’re not retreating on the cuts,” Bradley said. “We were realistic about that.”

He said the mayors from along the VIA corridor are most concerned about the passenger service’s future plans.

VIA, he said, has agreed to meet with the mayors again within 30 days to look at issues that include the possibility of combining bus and train services, marketing, service delivery and train schedules.

“I would have loved to come by train here today,” Bradley said from London following the morning meeting, “but I would have had to be here until 9 p.m. to get the train home.”

Lambton Warden Steve Arnold said that, along with agreeing to improve consultation, VIA officials said they’re willing to come to Sarnia-Lambton in October to speak with residents.

County staff will ask the Chamber of Commerce to set up a community meeting, he said.

“The bottom line is lack of ridership,” Arnold said.

Until more people start taking the train, he said, service will be limited.

Sarnia is already lined up as the launch community for a Canada-wide series of town hall workshops, held by advocacy group Transport Action Canada, about VIA Rail.

The meeting is Sept. 8 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Lambton Inn, and residents can register at, or by calling the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership at 519-332-1820.

“We are a community in crisis regarding inter-city transportation,” said partnership general manager George Mallay.

“This is each Sarnia-Lambton resident’s chance to express what they think this community needs, and an opportunity to offer suggestions on how it can be achieved.”

Residents urged to attend meeting regarding VIA Rail2012-08-23

Sarnia-Lambton is a community in crisis regarding inter-city transportation
Local residents are urged to attend upcoming Town Hall Workshop regarding VIA Rail cutbacks
Sarnia chosen as lead city to kick off Canada-wide series of Town Hall Workshops

August 23, 2012 - Sarnia-Lambton, Ontario – Transport Action Canada, the country’s leading citizen transportation advocacy group, has chosen Sarnia as the launch community for the first of a Canada-wide series of Town Hall Workshops regarding VIA Rail.

Participation by Sarnia-Lambton residents at this upcoming Town Hall Workshop is vital. Sarnia-Lambton’s access to passenger rail service has declined dramatically. Offering four arriving and four departing trains daily at Sarnia’s station in the late 1980s, VIA now services Sarnia-Lambton daily with just one late night arrival and one early morning departure. Annual ridership of 170,000 20 years ago has dwindled to 35,000. The VIA Rail station will soon be unstaffed.

The Workshop is slated for 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., September 08, 2012, at the Lambton Inn, 1485 London Road, Sarnia.

Local citizens are urged to register for the Town Hall Workshop as soon as possible at, or by calling the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership at 519-332-1820 or 1-800-972-7642.

“We are a community in crisis regarding inter-city transportation,” states Sarnia-Lambton Partnership general manager George Mallay. “Do we want regular, competitively priced, scheduled, comfortable, on time, advertised service? This is each Sarnia-Lambton resident’s chance to express what they think this community needs; and an opportunity to offer suggestions on how it can be achieved. It is vital that every Sarnia-Lambton resident who is able come out to this meeting.”

The City of Sarnia, the County of Lambton, the Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce, and the Economic Partnership have been working co-operatively over the past few years to establish better inter-city transportation links. Chamber President Garry McDonald notes, “Acting on this opportunity for the voices of businesses and citizens to be heard is important. The federal government must learn that public transportation in communities like ours across the country is important if we are to have any future role in the economic growth of Canada.”

The “National Dream Renewed: The VIA Rail Canada Town Hall Project” is an initiative of Transport Action Canada, together with Transport Action Atlantic, Transport 2000 Quebec, and Transport Action Ontario, to address recent cuts to VIA Rail’s passenger service, and gather Canadians’ views of VIA Rail, and their suggestions on how it can be reformed to sustainably provide the rail passenger service they want and will support through their taxes and their ticket dollars.

“This is one opportunity for all of us to input our views regarding VIA service for our community,” says County Warden Steve Arnold. “I will ensure that these points of view are forwarded to VIA and to Minister Fletcher in advance of VIA’s community visit in late October, so those outside our area who can influence VIA’s future direction understand how our community feels.”

"The Town Hall meeting is about the future of passenger rail service in Sarnia-Lambton and Canada. It's the public's chance to give their views, opinions and insights that will then be presented to Via Rail and the Government,” notes Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley.

Transportation writer and policy advisor Greg Gormick will facilitate the workshop, which will include breakout working groups and a discussion of the breakout group findings.

For further information contact:
George Mallay, General Manager
Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership

Biodiesel plant opens doors2012-08-11

By Mashoka Maimona,  from   The Observer

SOMBRA — Trains hauling restaurant grease — specifically used vegetable oil and animal fat — will soon be chugging into Sombra as a new biodiesel company opened its doors to the public Friday.

While it awaits approval from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Methes Energies Canada held its grand opening Friday at the Sombra site on Holt Line West.

Members of the public were invited to tour the production process of the nine-hectare facility at a ribbon-cutting ceremony, on International Biodiesel Day.

Nicholas Ng, director of business development, said the purpose of the tours was to ensure the public that Menthes, with 15 employees, is a “light industrial process” without smokestacks, odour or disrupting sounds.

St. Clair Township, Lambton County, and Walpole Island officials have been continually consulted since the Mississauga-based Methes Energies bought the site in 2008, he said.

“Communication with the public is integral because we are now part of the community,” said Ng, also the company’s co-founder.

The 2,000-square-foot dry wash processors at the facility are small compared to other biodiesel plants, thus reducing the environmental footprint, he said.

The plant will produce biodiesel and byproduct glycerol, used in cosmetic products, from pork and beef fat and used cooking oil, methanol and a base catalyst.

A Canadian national ecoEnergy program requires that 2% of all diesel fuel and heating distillate oil come from renewables.

Roughly one litre of animal fat or grease produces one litre of the environmentally friendly biodiesel.

The site was chosen for its easy accessibility and existing infrastructure, said plant manager Keith Grafton, being in the same corridor as some of the largest oil refineries in Ontario and near rail lines.

The site is ready for production and will be up and running by summer’s end, said Ng, who expects to get EPA approval within 30 days.

Looking south for industry consumers, Methes applied as a foreign renewable fuel producer.

About 10 leased rail cars will transport raw materials in and finished products out of the facility weekly — about one million litres of biodiesel.

The plant is expected to produce 50 million litres of the biodegradable product annually.

Methes is going to be the third biodiesel company in North America to be publicly traded, an accomplishment for “a small company like us,” Michel Laporte, President of Methes Energies International Ltd. said at the grand opening.

A Chinook chemical plant that formerly occupied the site gained notoriety as one of Ontario’s worst polluters amid complaints of odour or noise.

Lambton County warden Steve Arnold said Methes’ vision of breathing new life into the site has been welcomed by the community.

“They have hit a home run,” said Arnold, who is also the mayor of St. Clair Township.

“Their vision for a brownfield site is proper, especially since they’re taking it one step further by looking at the green energy aspect. Their fortitude proves they will run a successful operation.”

Home sales up this year2012-08-07

From   The Observer

Local real estate sales are seeing a modest improvement over last year.

New numbers released by the Sarnia Lambton Real Estate Board Thursday indicate 784 sales closed in the first six months of 2012 compared to 726 for the same period last year.

The value of those sales was up significantly, with a total dollar volume of $151.5 million this year, an increase of about $16 million over the first six months of sales in 2011.

Most of the houses sold in June this year were priced between $100,000 and $149,000.

The fostering of a cluster2012-08-07

From Biotechnology Focus, July, August 2012 

Two possible sites for new gas plant2012-08-01

By Paul Morden, from  The Observer

Eastern Power Limited is considering a second site in St. Clair Township for the 300-MW natural gas-fired electricity plant it’s relocating from Mississauga.

Along with land at Ontario Power Generation’s Lambton Generating Station identified when the project was announced recently by Ontario Energy Minister Chris Bentley, Toronto-based Eastern Power says it’s looking at a second location a short distance away on Oil Springs Line.

“I think the two candidate sites that we’re looking at are both good locations for the project,” said Hubert Vogt, vice-president of Eastern Power.

“Now we just have to go through the process of evaluating both of them and then picking one.”

The second site isn’t owned by Ontario Power Generation, he said.

Both are close to a natural gas pipeline and electrical transmission lines, have the right zoning and are a “sufficient distance” from neighbours, Vogt said.

St. Clair Township Mayor Steve Arnold said the company will have to go through the additional process of severing the land if it chooses the generating station site.

“I think they want to keep all their options open at this point,” Arnold said, adding the township is willing to work with the company at either location.

Eastern Power has scheduled public open houses for Aug. 16 and Sept. 12, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Courtright Community Hall as part of the provincial environmental approval process required for the $360-million project.

“It’s all coming together very quickly,” Vogt said.

The company will study potential air and noise emissions and ask residents at the open houses if there are other environmental impacts that should be considered, Vogt said.

“We don’t believe there will be a problem with any of the environmental impacts,” he said.

The environmental approval process is the same one two other natural gas-fired plants in St. Clair Township went through, Vogt said.

“Hopefully by now, people have a bit of a sense of what these natural gas-fired electricity plants are all about,” he said, adding it’s “always better when people have some experience.”

Residents in Mississauga lobbied against the plant there and it was cancelled by the the provincial government just days before the 2011 election.

The gas-fired plants already operating in St. Clair Township have been “good neighbours,” Arnold said.

“If things go really well, we could have all the approvals in place in about six months,” Vogt said. “Once construction begins, it will probably take 24 months or so.”

Some of the equipment from Mississauga will move to St. Clair, Vogt said. The plant’s main components will be a gas turbine, heat recovery boiler, a steam turbine, cooling tower and an electrical substation.

Arnold said company officials told him local materials and labour will be used.

“They were saying the right things to us,” he said.

The plant is expected to create 200 construction jobs and 30 or more permanent positions.

Methes to hold grand opening for Sombra biodiesel plant2012-08-01

By Ron Kotrba, from

Methes Energies Canada Inc. is holding a grand opening ceremony for its new 50 MMly (13 MMgy) multifeedstock biodiesel facility in Sombra, Ontario, Canada, on Aug. 10, a date known to many as International Biodiesel Day.

While the facility will be able to process many different types of feedstocks, Nicholas Ng, president of Methes Energies, said the primary feedstocks converted at the plant will be used cooking oil and beef or pork fat.

The company bought the property a few years ago, Ng said, and it had been dealing with retrofitting the infrastructure onsite to work for biodiesel production. He said the company also had to wait for the Canadian government to approve its application for the biodiesel production incentive. “Approval came in December,” he said, adding that this was when Methes Energies started building the process facility.

Methes Energies designed and built the processor in house based on its Denami 600 platform, only scaled up. The plant features methanol recovery, continuous flow production and a small footprint.

“The footprint is smaller than most,” Ng said. “Our 13 MMgy plant fits in a building of 2,000 to 2,500 square feet.”

The plant is automated and employs 18 people, but Ng said Methes Energies will be adding a couple of more staff members once it hits full production.

He said the facility will meet all ASTM specs, even the new No.1-B grade of biodiesel’s 0.40 percent monoglyceride limit. He said preliminary production test runs show the fuel comes in at about 0.20 percent monos. “We do that through a two-stage reaction and we monitor the product closely, making sure we hit equilibrium in reaction,” he told Biodiesel Magazine. “You can’t hit it too hard though, or it will go the other way.”

The ceremony is Aug. 10 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

WorleyParsons partnering with BSI Engineering2012-07-31

Further expanding its technical expertise in the growing sectors of renewable energy and biochemicals, the Sarnia Business Unit of WorleyParsons Canada has contracted with BSI Engineering Inc. of Cincinnati, Ohio.

“This collaboration complements our fermentation and biochemical engineering capabilities locally,” says Marilyn Gladu, Business Development Director of the Sarnia Business Unit of WorleyParsons. “It supports bioinnovation projects going forward that will include bioprocessing and fermentation technology.”

Gladu says the project experience of BSI in the biofuels and renewable energy sectors will be invaluable as WorleyParsons grows its client base in these areas. The Sarnia office was established in 1992 to offer local, full service project solutions to the industrial sector of Southwestern Ontario. The multi-discipline consulting engineering company provides engineering, procurement, construction management and support services to the majority of local clients. It operates with all disciplines in-house and uses third parties for specialty expertise or as project requirements dictate. The Sarnia office has about 250 employees who serve clients in Ontario, Quebec and the Northeastern U.S., and participate in workshare with many of the 144 global WorleyParsons offices.

The Sarnia office has worked with the licensor on the Phase 1 and Phase 2 projects for the Suncor ethanol plant. Suncor is looking at additional projects and other companies such as BioAmber and LANXESS are also considering new projects in the Sarnia area.

Phil Beirne, President of BSI Engineering, says his firm will benefit from the capabilities and reach of WorleyParsons. “For us, it is an opportunity to provide specific niche experience that we have with biodiesel and renewable fuel technology. We will be aligned with a global company and have the opportunity to work in locations that we haven’t yet tapped into.” BSI served as the “owner’s engineer” on the $170 million Osage bioenergy project in Hopewell, Virginia which was the first plant in the U.S. designed to use barley as a feedstock to produce ethanol.

1,600 seat theatre complex coming2012-07-27

Local moviegoers can expect a state-of-the-art experience when they visit Sarnia's new theatre next year.

By Barbara Simpson, from The Observer

Cineplex Entertainment plans to open the eight-screen Galaxy Cinemas Sarnia in the spring of 2013, with a total of 1,600 seats. One of the viewing theatres will be an UltraAVX auditorium. It will feature a wall-to-wall screen, enhanced Dolby digital surround sound, RealD 3D technology and extra-wide, high-back rocker seats.

Moviegoers can also reserve seats in the auditorium in advance.

“Sarnia is one of the largest Canadian cities without a cutting edge movie theatre,” said Mike Langdon, director of communications for Cineplex Entertainment.

“Lambton Mall is a great location for our guests and we think it will contribute to the overall moviegoing experience.”

Currently, only Cineplex theatres in large cities, like Toronto and its surrounding area, are home to UltraAVX screens.

The new 32,000-square-foot theatre is part of a multimillion dollar expansion at Lambton Mall. It will include a 31,000-square-foot Sport Chek. Tbooth Wireless, a cellphone retailer, will also be moving into the mall.

Demolition is well underway at the former Canadian Tire store.

Brad Vessey, general manager of Lambton Mall, said some of the construction will start while demolition is underway. Demolition is expected to wrap up by the end of August.

“We're hoping to have those tenants open for the early spring of 2013,” Vessey said.

The $16-million redevelopment project includes the purchase of the neighbouring Cineplex theatre, according to Primaris Retail REIT's first quarter financials. It will close when the new theatre opens.

“At this point, I can't say what's going to happen with that land,” Vessey said. “It's still under negotiations.”

The new theatre and additional retail space is the latest redevelopment project at the mall. A $5-million food court and an H&M clothing store opened late last year.

Vessey said the projects are the result of listening to shopper feedback given through surveys.

“We're really responding to indications that people have given to us as to what they want to see at the shopping centre,” he said.

Pilot plant setting up in research park2012-07-19

From The Observer,

The head of KmX Corporation says the pilot plant it’s starting could lead to a commercial scale operation in Sarnia.

Isaac Gaon, chief executive officer of Oakville-based KmX, said the company began setting up a one-ton pilot plant more than a month ago at the University of Western Ontario Research Park in Sarnia.

“Hopefully, if everything goes successfully, we’ll be staying in Sarnia but will be moving to a much larger location,” he said.

The pilot plant is scheduled to be commissioned at the end of August and producing biobutanol by the middle or late September, Gaon said.

Biobutanol has many uses, he said, including the manufacturing of rubber and plastic.

He said the company uses a novel process to break out sugar from bio-mass. Then, it ferments it and uses a membrane technology to separate water from the valuable biobutanol molecules.

The membrane technology acts “as a kind of magnet to the molecules,” he said, “saving a huge amount of energy.”

Once the pilot plant can verify what the company has seen in its laboratory in Oakville, “we believe that we will then be able to go to a much, much higher scale,” Gaon said.

The Sarnia pilot plant will also demonstrate production of cellulosic ethanol.

“Using our process,” Gaon said, “we’ll be able to do it much cheaper, much more efficiently and with much less complexity.”

About eight summer students and five supervisors are working now at the pilot plant.

“Once we go to the higher industrial, commercial level plant, it will be 10 times that number or more,” Gaon said.

The testing scheduled for the pilot plant is expected to be completed in a year, he said.

Gaon said the research park is “a great facility” that is relatively close to the company’s head office in Oakville.

But, he added, the main reason for choosing the site is that KmX has been looking at companies in Sarnia-Lambton “we would like to associate ourselves, where we believe our technology will be of great value.”

Paul Paolatto, acting executive director of the research park, said KmX is “one of our first notable industrial commercialization projects and we’re very, very excited to have them as part of the park.”

He added KmX “is an example of a company that offers a promising technology and a promising market opportunity that could generate economic value and social value in Sarnia and around the globe.”

Paolatto said Woodland Biofuels also has begun installing its earlier announced cellulosic ethanol pilot plant at the park.

“We’ve also secured our first Western researcher who will be spending the next four years in Sarnia on an exciting bio-mass conversion project,” Paolatto said.

Region wins praise as good site for plant2012-07-14

From The Observer,

Sarnia-Lambton is a good fit for the new 300-MW natural gas fired electricity plant announced this week, says the company’s president.

A 12-acre portion of land at the Lambton Generating Station in Courtright is set to become the new home for the $360-million Greenfield South Power plant that was originally being built in Mississauga until the provincial government cancelled the project last year.

Ontario Energy Minister Chris Bentley announced this week the plant would relocate to St. Clair Township.

“We think that entire area is ideal,” Gregory Vogt, president of Toronto-based Eastern Power Ltd., said about the project’s move to Sarnia-Lambton. “We’re excited to move on. Our company is all about using Ontario expertise to build Ontario, and this is certainly a big step for us to move forward.”

Vogt said they have already set up some preliminary meetings with officials in St. Clair Township. “We will be doing a more formal approach to the council, as well.”

Both provincial and municipal permits and approvals will be needed before construction can begin.

“It’s not unusual to see a permitting period of a year, or even more,” Vogt said. “It might be less. At this point it’s hard to predict.”

Once approvals are in place, the construction timeline tends to be “two-plus years,” he said.

The province said the project will create 200 construction jobs. “It certainly will be all of that,” Vogt said. “That’s a fairly conservative number.”

Sarnia-Lambton’s experience with building industry over the years means it’s well-served with the trades the project needs, he said.

“Our understanding is, from what we’ve read, the local trades are in need of the work, so we think it’s a beautiful fit.”

Natural gas lines and electricity transmission lines the plant will need are also already in place in St. Clair Township.

“The local connections have to be built, which are fairly short distances,” Vogt said.

“That’s the strength of this neighbourhood, the Sarnia-Lambton area, it has infrastructure galore.”

Vogt said the plant will be a high-efficiency, state-of-the-art facility. “They’re seen in all the major urban areas of the world, because it’s such a clean facility,” he said.

“It’s not unlike the facilities that have been built down in that neck of the woods.”

They include the 577-MW St. Clair Energy Centre that opened in 2009 and the 1005-MW Greenfield Energy Centre that began operation a year before that. Both are also in St. Clair Township.

Sarnia is home to TransAlta’s natural gas-fired 444-MW cogeneration plant that also generates electricity.

Vogt said that once the Greenfield South Power plant is built, “staffing will probably be in the 30-odd people” range.

Vogt said the company has other plants in the Greater Toronto Area.

“This will be our latest and largest facility.”

Lambton lands power plant2012-07-11

From The Observer

The $360-million natural gas plant project in Mississauga abruptly cancelled by the Liberals last year will be relocated to St. Clair Township, Energy Minister Chris Bentley said Tuesday.

The plant will be built by the privately-owned Greenfield South Power Corporation on a 12-acre portion of the Ontario Power Generation’s Lambton Generating Station site.

Sarnia-Lambton’s leaders immediately applauded the announcement and the 200 construction jobs required to build the plant over the two years.

When complete, the plant will employ about 25 people, said Bentley.

“Our area accepts and welcomes these kinds of projects,” said George Mallay, general manager of the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership.

The region has been lobbying Queen’s Park for several years to convert the coal-fired Lambton Generating Station (LGS) to natural gas.

Tuesday’s decision does not impact LGS, which is on track to close in 2014, but a new 300-megawatt natural gas plant is a boon to the area, Mallay said.

Bentley said Lambton’s willingness to host a natural gas plant is one of several reasons a deal was inked Monday with Greenfield South Power.

“The Lambton location is a good fit. You’ve got transmission there, you’ve got gas nearby, you’ve got skilled trained workers, and you’ve got a community that’s long been known as an energy hub,” Bentley said.

In contrast to Lambton’s enthusiasm, the residents of Mississauga aggressively lobbied against having the plant nearby. Just days before the 2011 election, the Liberal’s agreed to shut down Greenfield’s construction, despite serious legal ramifications.

The deal announced Tuesday will cost the government $180 million, including a settlement agreement with the financier of the Greenfield South Power project.

“The $180 million is the costs that cannot be recovered at the new site,” Bentley said.

About $85 million covers engineering and the cost for goods and services already used at the Mississauga site, he said.

The financier of the original Mississauga plant — which was about the same size that Lambton’s plant will be — will receive $88 million in the deal.

“Lawsuits on both sides of the border have been withdrawn,” the minister told The Observer.

Another $7 million will be paid out to various parties involved in the construction that was abandoned at the MIssissauga site.

Some of the equipment, including gas turbines purchased for the original site, will be relocated to Lambton, Bentley said.

“We expect the plant to be up and running by 2017.”

St. Clair Township Mayor and Lambton County Warden Steve Arnold said Bentley called him about the announcement and specifically wanted to know how the community would view it.

“I told the minister the community would view it as a very positive thing for us all,” said Arnold.

But the community hopes there will be a subsequent announcement about LGS converting to natural gas, Arnold added.

Bentley said the Ontario Power Authority continues to consider the future for LGS.

“We’re looking at the site, what to do and what the system needs,” he said. “We’re looking at all possibilities and no decision has been made.“

Local tradespeople are glad to learn a natural gas plant will be constructed at the LGS site, said Ray Curran of the Sarnia Construction Association.

“It’s been a slow summer for us,” he said. “At least 30% to 40% of the 5,000 in our workforce aren’t working. This is very good news.”

Curran said he and many others in Sarnia-Lambton were surprised by Bentley’s announcement.

“We’ve been so focused on trying to get them to convert LGS. We still want LGS to stay open,” he said. “But I guess this solves some of (the government’s) problems.”

County eyes industrial river dock2012-07-05

From   The Observer

Steel fabricators and machine shops in Sarnia-Lambton have a good shot at getting work from Alberta oil sands companies, but first they need a dock loading facility on the St. Clair River and a way to reach it.

Lambton County councillors voted Wednesday to give the Sarnia Lambton Industrial Alliance $20,000 to help begin identifying a transportation corridor to the river, and determine how much it would cost to upgrade it to accommodate large fabricated industrial steel modules built locally.

Alliance chairperson Paul Healy said its 40 member companies came together to find ways to attract customers beyond Chemical Valley.

“The local industry has had significant downswing in their spending for capital,” Healy said, adding, “If you look at the chemical plants that have closed in the last five years, we’ve probably lost eight major producers.”

That has hurt machine shops, fabricators and others serving the petrochemical industry, as well as leading to a more than 35% local unemployment rate in the heavy construction skilled trades, he said.

Industry has been moving to a modular approach to construction, and while Sarnia-Lambton companies are doing that work now, it’s a challenge to move large structures to the river and load them on ships.

Healy said the modules are too large to move by rail. The Port of Sarnia, and the roads leading to it, also can’t accommodate them.

The alliance plans to apply for federal capital funding once it selects a dock site and corridor to reach it.

There are 500 oil producing companies in Alberta and the oil sands expansion is expected to last another three decades, but fabricators there can meet about half the expected demand, he said.

“We have the exact match for the skill set they’re looking for.”

Some of Sarnia-Lambton’s skilled tradespeople have been forced to travel Alberta to find work, Healy noted.

“If we can make this a manufacturing centre for oil producing customers, I think you’ll not only put the current group back to work, you’ll also bring home the group working away from here and also attract new labour.”

Healy said the alliance wants to push forward on creating a dedicated corridor and dock as quickly as possible.

He called oil sands work “low hanging fruit,” adding a permanent corridor would also help the area attract fabricating business from outside of Canada.

“Deep water access gets us to the rest of the world.”

Warden Steve Arnold and Sarnia Mike Bradley have been meeting with the alliance and suggested they ask county council for help with the cost of the study.

“We see a huge future here in manufacturing modules and vessels that will keep people employed here,” Bradley said.

Building activity June rebound2012-07-03

From   CHOK Radio

Building activity in Sarnia rebounded to almost 6.9 million dollars in June. A couple of the larger permits that contributed to the improving picture were 1.2 million dollars for a building expansion at Bluewater Power on Confederation and 2 million dollars for an addition at Smith Funeral Home on London Line. An even larger permit worth 10 million dollars for the foundation of the new BioAmber plant is termed “conditional” and has yet to be figured into the year’s total.

Citizenship ceremony returns to Sarnia2012-06-28

By Barbara Simpson, from   The Observer

When Alexis Lord first visited Sarnia 12 years ago, it was love at first sight.

The mechanic returned to Guyana knowing he wanted to bring his family to the city. He and his wife Nicole later made the brave move with their four children to a new country in 2007.

“I just fell in love with the place,” Alexis recalled.

The pair also knew more freedoms and opportunities awaited their children in Canada.

Five years later, the Lords – with three of their children Devon, 23, Nicholas, 17, and Nessa, 12 – sealed the deal Thursday. They officially became Canadians at Sarnia's first citizenship ceremony in at least a decade.

“It feels great,” Alexis said afterwards, as he snapped photos of his children holding up their citizenship certificates.

Twenty-five candidates from 13 countries took the oath of Canadian citizenship at the Lochiel Kiwanis Community Centre Thursday. Family and friends cheered as the new Canadians received their certificates and shook hands with local dignitaries.

The moment brought back memories for Chandrika Patel.

“I had tears in my eyes when I saw the ceremony,” she said.

Patel, who emigrated from Zambia 19 years ago, now works as the manager of newcomer and immigrant services at the YMCA Learning & Career Centre.

Patel said she is pleased to see a citizenship ceremony hosted in the city again.

“I think it's great because a lot of our clients have trouble with transportation and going to other cities for the ceremony,” she said.

Suzanne Quinn, a counsellor with ACFO de London-Sarnia, said she was also quite excited to see immigrants who had received help through the organization officially become Canadians.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley was lauded for his efforts to bring back a citizenship ceremony to Sarnia. Bradley sent a letter to Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, requesting the service be returned to Sarnia.

Tony Dagnone, a member of the Order of Canada, presided over the ceremony. A variety of local dignitaries were also on hand and exchanged jokes about Canadianisms, such as a love of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the use of the word “eh.”

Recent immigrants weren't the only ones to receive citizenship Thursday.

David John Warner, who emigrated from England 38 years ago, decided to take the oath in front of family.

“I suddenly had a feeling that I needed a sense of belonging,” the Strathroy retiree said.

Bradley, whose Irish family emigrated from Australia, reminded the new Canadians that they've now joined another family.

“We all came together in separate boats, but keep in mind we're in the same boat now,” he said.

Minister bullish on petrochemicals2012-06-25

By Mashoka Maimona, from   The Observer

Sarnia-Lambton’s petrochemical manufacturing industry is Ontario’s “recipe” for future success, Brad Duguid, the provincial economic development minister, said as he toured Lambton College on Monday.

Duguid emphasized that the historical petrochemical industry is on the “upswing.”

“Some would have said five or ten years ago this industry wasn’t on the upswing. Some would have even said that it might have been marginally on the downslide. Not so anymore.

“There are thousands of jobs attached to our chemistry industry. There are billions of investment now pouring into Ontario,” said Duguid.

The Chemical Industry Association of Canada (CIAC) estimates Sarnia’s petrochemical industry could attract upwards of $2.5 billion in investment, because of its access to shale gas and biomass feedstocks.

Duguid said Ontario regained 120% of jobs the province has lost since the 2008 recession.

According to Statistics Canada, Ontario’s unemployment rate remains at a higher than average 7.8 per cent.

“Ontario’s poised to continue to recover. We’d like to be recovering quicker. We’d like to be producing more jobs,” he said.

Duguid called post-secondary facilities the third partner in a marriage between Queen’s Park and private sector investors.

Post-secondary establishments, such as Lambton College, ensure graduates are “job-ready” to contribute to the economy, he said as he toured the school’s Centre of Excellence for Process Manufacturing.

The innovation minister called trained graduates the province’s “single greatest asset” in giving Ontario a competitive advantage.

Although the Liberal government contributed to a $6-billion education funding “renaissance” prior to the recession, Duguid admitted post-secondary investment is on hold due to a $15-billion deficit.

His tour also took the minister to BioAmber, Imperial Oil, NOVA Chemicals, LANXESS, and Newalta in Corunna.

Duguid’s stop preceded the visit from an Alberta oilsands delegation, including politicians and energy experts, Monday evening and Tuesday.

He hummed a different, more congenial tune than Premier Dalton McGuinty, who has formerly blamed Ontario’s cratering manufacturing sector to Alberta’s oil and gas industry.

Alberta lacks Ontarian infrastructure and its skilled labour force, said Duguid, and his government can fill the labour gap in the western province’s lucrative oilsands project.

A partnership would be a boost to both economies, he said.

“Ontario businesses have a lot to offer to work with Alberta on this project,” said Duguid.

“We can bring a lot to the table.”

Industrial contractor ready for big projects2012-06-23

By Cathy Dobson, from   The Observer

It’s encouraging to see what Anderson Webb is up to at 530 McGregor Road.

The heavy industrial piping contractor has just made a multi-million-dollar investment in its offices, shop and fabrication equipment because owners Charlie Webb and Karl Rankin sense several major projects are on the horizon in Sarnia.

“I’m very optimistic that work in the area is going to pick up,” said Webb, who started Anderson Webb in 1985. “I feel Sarnia is poised to expand its oil and chemical facilities.”

Webb said he’s fairly confident at least one new refinery will locate here to take advantage of a new supply of gas from Marcellus shale. But he’s predicting that it could be several.

Anderson Webb recently held an open house to show off its new, 3,000-square-foot office building and 20,000 square feet of new shop space. Inside the shop are three new five-ton overhead shop cranes, a pipe cutting table, new welding machines, new positioners and an 85-ton ironworker.

The company, which has 40 to 50 core employees, is ready to act as primary contractor for the Suncor Energy shutdown scheduled for the fall. When that happens, another 450 to 500 tradespeople will be hired.

“It’s a massive job and we’re ready for it,” said Anderson. “We are also prepared for further announcements. I think there’s going to be multiple refineries coming.”

Anderson Webb does the engineering, fabrication and installation of piping, vessels, skids, tanks, hoppers, stacks, silos and other steel components. The company employs plumbers, pipefitters, boilermakers and welders. And, while most of its work is in Chemical Valley, Anderson Webb also regularly handles a number of commercial contracts.

College handpicked for industrial innovation2012-06-23

By Mashojka Maimona, from   The Observer

The headquarters of a future RIM could very well set up shop in Sarnia.

Lambton College has been handpicked as the site for one of 14 national college industrial research chairs, complete with a cash envelope of nearly $1 million over five years.

The huge announcement could pave the path for Sarnia to emerge as a leader in developing new technologies, said Judith Morris, CEO of Lambton College, on Friday.

The college’s close relationship with industrial partners helped secure the federal grant, which will be matched by industry, Morris said.

“What that says to me is that the federal government has great faith in us to produce and we intend to do just that,” she said.

Dr. Mehdi Sheikhzadeh was appointed the college’s new Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) industrial chair for colleges.

His job will be to forge and foster relationships between researchers at the college and local regional partners.

“Industry wants (Sheikhzadeh) — they’ve been after him. He will be bringing industry in to work with us and pushing that agenda,” Morris said.

Sarnia-Lambton MP Pat Davidson said the federal government’s decision demonstrates Lambton College has the potential to transfer ideas, innovation, and applied sciences into the marketplace as world-leading products.

“In this community, we know we have the capacity to innovate,” she said.

The college, she said, is an expert in community networking with business partners. But more business research and development funding is needed for long-term competitiveness.

Even with some of the most generous R&D tax incentives in the world, Canada has low private investment in small and mid-sized businesses.

Tom Jenkins, chairperson with Software maker Open Text, was tasked with leading an expert panel to discuss Canada’s innovation to commercialization deficiencies last October.

Davidson said the College and Community Innovation Program is a right step towards change by “strengthen(ing) the links between publicly-funded research and private sector needs.”

Maike Luiken, dean of applied research, business development and sustainable development, said colleges are the key to advancing capacity for innovation to commercialization.

Sheikhzadeh said his new position will benefit cash-strapped small and mid-sized businesses seeking financial aid to help turn their ideas into products.

“Colleges with the expertise can help these businesses in taking an idea, investing money into it, and commercializing an end product.”

Dean de Jong, president of Team Aquatic Management, said it’s “very, very risky” for a small company to single-handedly initiate research.

“This program has taken a lot of the risk away from us, and onto the college. It has also given us the higher level of expertise and resources through people like (Sheikhzadeh).”


In-Situ Oil Sands Alliance to visit Sarnia-Lambton2012-06-21

June 21, 2012, Sarnia-Lambton, Ontario – The Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership (SLEP) and the Sarnia Lambton Industrial Alliance (SLIA) are scheduled to host a group of Oil Sands development companies visiting Southwestern Ontario June 25th and 26th.

The group, “In-Situ Oil Sands Alliance” (IOSA), is investigating the ability of Ontario firms to do fabrication work for their member companies. They also wish to raise the profile of the current and long-term needs in Alberta and the opportunities for Ontario-based companies to provide support.

The IOSA group will be represented by their Vice Chair, Patricia Nelson (former Alberta Minister of Energy) as well as executive representatives from four of their member companies.

Also travelling with the group will be elected officials, including Members of Parliament from Ontario and Alberta as well as at least one Ontario MPP.

SLIA member companies will have the opportunity to make contact with the group on a Duc D’Orleans charter tour of Sarnia-Lambton’s industrial waterfront. Also joining the excursion will be area elected officials and representatives from the Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce.

The SLIA executive, led by Chairman Paul Healy, will have the opportunity to make a formal presentation to the delegation before they continue on to London. Healy says “the capabilities of our fabricators, and the existing local supply chain that supports them, are an exact match to the needs of IOSA”.

It is hoped that delegations like this one will help to build national co-operation in the development of the Oil Sands and co-operation between Ontario and Alberta in particular.

Taking solar power to the dump2012-06-21

By Paul Morden, from   The Observer

Bluewater Power is investigating whether to build a small solar farm at the old Sarnia landfill site on Blackwell Sideroad.

The utility company already generates electricity from landfill gas collected at the former municipal dump and it approached Lambton County recently about adding a solar farm.

If it goes ahead, an undetermined number of solar panels would “fill up a corner of unused land” at the site, said Jason Cole, the county’s public works manager.

They wouldn’t be placed on the mound that covers the buried waste.

It will be fall before the utility decides if it will pursue the project, said Tim Vanderheide, chief operating officer with Bluewater Power.

If it does, the utility will apply in 2013 for a contract to sell the electricity into the provincial power grid.

“We’re really at the very, very initial, investigative stages right now,” Vanderheide said.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said the proposal is “an excellent use of land that’s not useable.”

A standing committee of county council voted Wednesday to recommend Lambton negotiate an amendment to its existing agreement with Bluewater Power to allow a solar farm. That recommendation goes to council July 4.

Plans are to begin with a 500 kW facility that could expand to 1 MW. A massive 80 MW solar farm already exists across the road from the landfill.

Vanderheide said a 500 kW solar farm will cover three to four acres.

Lambton has received more than $30,000 per year in rent and royalties since Bluewater Power’s landfill gas facility was built in 2007.

A 500 kW solar farm on the site could mean another $5,000 to $6,000 a year for the county, according to a staff report.

Monitoring and other operations at the county’s five closed landfill sites are expected to cost it more than $460,000 this year.

“It would be nice to have some revenue to offset that,” said Jim Kutyba, Lambton’s general manager of infrastructure and development services.

Adding a solar farm will allow Bluewater Power to use excess capacity in the landfill gas project’s power grid connection, officials said. The landfill hasn’t produced as much gas as first anticipated, and the rate is expected to decline even more over the years.

The good news is it appears the gas will be there longer than anticipated, Kutyba said.

While the rate Ontario pays for solar power is expected to drop, so has the cost of solar panels, Vanderheide said.

“It still looks like you can make a 10% rate of return on the investment, which is appropriate for the risk.”

Bluewater Power is also involved in a landfill gas project in Petrolia, and it has a small number of solar panels at its offices on Confederation Street.

Student entrepreneurs spawn new business2012-06-13

By Barbara Simpson, from   The Observer

CORUNNA – Lindsay Bulckaert can thank R2-D2 for inspiring her to start a summer business.

The 28-year-old Lambton College and University of Windsor student set an ambitious challenge for herself: if she could bake a cake version of the Star Wars robot for her son, she'd turn her hobby into a business. The three-dimensional R2-D2 required combining five cakes, but she let the baking force be with her.

“When I brought the cake into the car for (my son) to see, his face light up like crazy,” she said.

That's when her business Cake Face was born.

Bulckaert, who will be studying education in the fall, was one of seven Sarnia-Lambton students picked for the Summer Company Program.

Successful student applicants aged 15 to 29 years old receive up to $1,500 in startup funding and 12 hours of business training. Once they complete the provincial program, they also receive up to $1,500 to return to school.

Bulckaert has invested her money into supplies. She purchased a stand mixer and rents the use of a Corunna kitchen.

“It's going to a lot of ingredients and my fees for being a vendor at the Sarnia Bay Marina farmer's market,” she said.

Bulckaert sells a variety of cupcakes – everything from the traditional chocolate and vanilla to strawberry banana and pineapple – at the Sunday market.

Her three young children – Lachlan, 6, Thea, 4, and Wyatt, 18 months – have proven to be great help with the business. They'll suggest new flavours and sample product.

“I've been baking with the (older) two since they were old enough to stand on a chair,” Bulckaert said.

Other local student-run businesses funded include pavement and patio cleaning, IT repair, a clothing line, photography and professional recording.

The provincial program is provided locally by the Business Enterprise Centre of Sarnia-Lambton.

Chantelle Core, the centre's entrepreneurship coordinator, said students gain skills through the program that can be applied to their own businesses or if they become employees of companies.

“We hope the community will support and encourage these student-run business startups and benefit from all they have to offer,” she said in a release.

Sarnia in the running for new contact centre2012-06-07

Sarnia-Lambton General Manager George Mallay confirmed today that a Canadian company has narrowed its search for a new contact centre location to the City of Sarnia and one other Canadian community.

The as-yet-unnamed firm will be holding a job fair in the near future to gauge Sarnia-Lambton's interest. Interviews and resumes gathered at the job fair will be used to select the company's labour pool, should they choose Sarnia-Lambton for their location.

“These are full time jobs covering all aspects of contact centre operations, including customer / technical support agents, supervisors, trainers, recruitment, HR, payroll, IT support and site management,” said Mallay. He noted that applicants do not have to have prior contact centre experience. “The company is very interested in people with experience in retail, hospitality, or the gaming industry, in addition to our excellent pool of call centre employees that have, or soon will be, losing their current jobs.”

The time and location of the job fair will be released once it is confirmed by the company. Information on the company will also be announced at that time. In the interim, the Economic Partnership has set up a number of social media sites to provide the local community with updates as they become available. Job seekers can receive email updates by entering their contact information at, by following, or on Facebook at

Mallay noted that the company is well-respected, and is known for its excellent employer-employee relations. “It would be an excellent fit for Sarnia-Lambton, but it is still very definitely a competition. We need to make this the biggest and best job fair Sarnia-Lambton has ever seen.”

- ## -

For further information:

George Mallay, General Manager
Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership
Telephone 519-332-1820

Calling all job seekers2012-06-07

From   CHOK Radio

Sarnia-Lambton is being scouted by another call centre.  Sources say as many as 400 jobs could come with it.  Economic Partnership General Manager George Mallay thinks we have a good chance to move to the head of the class in the on-going site selection process.

The task of gathering resumes will begin tomorrow at MPP Bob Bailey’s Resources, Training and Workshops Expo at Lambton College. Mr Mallay says a more formal call centre job fair will take place later this month.

Announcing 2012 Summer Company student businesses2012-06-06

Seven enterprising Sarnia-Lambton students are preparing to open their own businesses this summer thanks to the Summer Company Program.

The program provides students with a chance to create their own small businesses, become their own bosses, and develop transferable skills. By providing each student with up to $3,000, 12 hours of business training and one-on-one mentoring, the program gives Ontario students an opportunity to learn about themselves and experience what it takes to start and run a business; all without financial risk.

This year Sarnia-Lambton has approved seven program participants, with strong local demand exceeding the program availability. The 2012 Summer Company students and their summer companies are:

Lindsay Bulckaert, Cake Face, specializes in fun and delicious cupcakes and in-home cupcake parties. Lindsay is a Sarnia resident who is enrolled in a joint program between Lambton College and the University of Windsor. Contact: or 519-491-7055

Gina Gillis, G.L.C. Pavement & Patio Scrub, powers through everyday dirt and grime on your concrete; improving the look of your property with her unique machine. Gina is a Brights Grove resident and University of Guelph student. Contact: 519-869-4216

Gordon Hannan,, provides IT support and repair for small businesses and individuals. Gordon is a Sarnia resident and both a University of Western Ontario and Fanshawe College Student. Contact:

Owen Osinde, The Recruits Clothing Company, offers a creative lifestyle clothing brand that embodies a universal culture that galvanizes individuals to reach their ultimate potential through design aesthetics. Owen is a St. Christopher Secondary School student who will be attending Ryerson University in the fall. Contact:

Sarah Rogers, Aced Designs Photography, specializes in weddings, portraits, and digital retouching. Serving Lambton County. Sarah is a Sarnia resident and Lambton College student.

Matt St-Pierre, Matt St-Pierre Productions, creates high quality recordings and marketing services to get your music heard, getting you out of the garage and onto the stage. Matt is a Sarnia resident and University of Guelph student. Contact: or 519-381-8985.

Katelyn Crooks, Marine Memories, is a Northern Collegiate Secondary School student who will be attending Lambton College in the fall. Katelyn is a student with a camera capturing your once in a lifetime moments on the water. You will be able to purchase an adventure photograph of your boating or Jet Ski moment from her website.

The Summer Company Program is an initiative of the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation, and is provided locally by the Business Enterprise Centre of Sarnia-Lambton, under the auspices of the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership.

“This program gives us an opportunity to attract and identify creative and highly motivated youth in our community. It’s a great opportunity for Sarnia-Lambton to develop our youth into entrepreneurial minded adults,” said George Mallay, General Manager of the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership.

Chantelle Core, Entrepreneurship Co-coordinator for the Sarnia-Lambton Business Enterprise Centre, noted that the skills students gain through the program are valuable whether they continue to own and operate their own businesses, or use the transferable skills they have gained to become entrepreneurial minded employees who work in our community. “We hope the community will support and encourage these student-run business startups and benefit from all they have to offer,” she said.

For further information:

Chantelle Lynne Core
Entrepreneurship - Agricultural/ Rural Development Coordinator
Tel: 519-332-1820 (toll free 1-800-972-7642)

Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership and
The Business Enterprise Centre of Sarnia-Lambton
Western University Research Park, Sarnia-Lambton Campus

Shell eyes natural gas unit for Corunna2012-05-26

By Paul Morden, from   The Observer

Shell Canada is considering building a small liquified natural gas processing unit at its Corunna refinery.

The company is hosting a pair of public meetings next week to outline its plans.

“It think it’s quite far along the investigation stage when they go to the public,” said Steve Arnold, mayor of St. Clair Township.

“I’m looking forward to hearing what they have to say that day, and I’m hoping it’s a go.”

Shell spokesperson James Burns said the small facility being considered could produce 200,000 to 300,000 tons of liquified natural gas annually and occupy five to 10 acres at the site. “You probably wouldn’t even notice, it would be so small in the scheme of things,” he said.

The company has not disclosed a cost estimate.

“We’re still scoping things out there,” Burns said.

The facility wouldn’t create a large number of permanent jobs.

“There will be a few people,” Burns said, adding most of the operations would be handled by the site’s existing workers.

If built the facility would take natural gas arriving by pipeline, process it and cool it until it becomes liquid.

Shell has been in the liquified natural gas business for decades and recently began promoting its use in transportation, including marine and trucking, Burns said.

It’s described by the company as a safe, cost-competitive and cleaner fuel alternative.

“Sarnia has a very good safety record so we would like to investigate having something there,” Burns said.

“It should be the next year or two that we’ll have a decision.”

A similar project is being built by Shell near Calgary, Burns said.

Along with building a small-scale processing unit the work in Sarnia would include upgrading some of the site’s existing facilities, including the jetty, the company says.

“It’s great to see a global company, such as Shell, have that type of confidence in our community,” Arnold said.

“It’s just super they would be consider that coming here.”

The Shell plant dates to the early 1950s and currently has 350 full-time employees manufacturing gasoline, distillates, liquid petroleum gas, heavy oils, pure chemicals and solvents.

Shell’s open houses are planned for:

• Tuesday, May 29, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Aamjiwnaang First Nation’s Maawn Doosh Gumig Community Centre on Virgil Avenue;

• Wednesday, May 30, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Royal Canadian Legion hall on Albert Street in Corunna.

BioAmber Plant Breaks Ground2012-05-16

From   The Observer

SARNIA - Construction has begun at the site of an $80-million BioAmber plant.

Preliminary work is prepping the Vidal Street site for full-tilt construction this summer, said Mike Hartmann, BioAmber's executive vice-president.

The bio-succinic acid plant is expected to open November 2013.

BioAmber held a breakfast for community and industry leaders at the site of their future home Wednesday. Representatives of Mitsui & Co., a partner in the project, were also on hand.

BioAmber, now multi-million-dollar company, has humble roots, said Babette Pettersen, senior vice-president of marketing and sales. The Montreal-based company started in 2006 with two employees and a debt in the hundreds of thousands.

“It's amazing to be where we are today – a commercial company,” she said.

BioAmber made several announcements Wednesday, including the fact it has partnered with Lambton College to possibly offer scholarships.

The company said it has won BIOTECanada's Gold Leaf Award for Early Stage Company of the Year. And it will join the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada's Responsible Care program, committing to good corporate citizenship and environmental responsibility.

Sarnia-Lambton MP Pat Davidson said the new plant is enormously important to the local economy.

“I know they will be creating a lot of well-paying, full-time jobs, something that is needed in our community right now,” she told the crowd.

The plant will create 40 full-time positions along with 250 construction jobs.

Davidson said she expects the plant, which will made succinic acid from corn, will attract more businesses to the community.

“In many ways, this approach is, 'If you build it, they will come,' and I'm really, really sure that's what's going to happen,” she said.

Jean-Francois Huc, president and CEO of BioAmber, said the company scouted 100 sites for its first North American bio-succinic acid plant. Sarnia was chosen for its location, government support, and the vision and leadership from Lanxess management.

“We want to work with the community,” Huc told the crowd. “We want to work with the First Nations.”

BioAmber has distribution in North America, Asia and Europe. Succinic acid is used in a variety of products, including plasticizers, automotive parts, disposable cutlery and cosmetics.

Real estate sales edge higher2012-05-03

From   The Lambton Shield

The local real estate association says it is pleased with sales figures reflecting a "fairly consistent" performance compared with the same-month sales in the last three years.

Donna Mathewson, president of the Sarnia-Lambton Real Estate Board, told reporters at a monthly review that sales in the month totalled nearly $36 million, a 1% increase over April 2011 and slightly more than the five year average. There were 6% more houses sold compared with a year earlier.

That amounts to a 10-year high.

Homes under $200,000 drove the market, said Mathewson, covering 120 of the 189 homes in total.

Having a "slow and steady" increase is good for the market, not unlike some of Canada's bigger cities where volatility can be an issue.

Mathewson said Realtors are pleased that the market has seen a "very strong" first quarter. "We are still on pace for the regular spring market," she added.

The average price of a home in Sarnia sold in April was $199,828; just slightly lower ($199,778) in the county.

Mathewson said the number of homes on the market is "holding steady" at 1,047.

"Interest rates are still unbelievably low; housing prices are still very attractive," she added.

Biochemical industry key to growth2012-04-29

Biochemical industry key to growth by 2015: SLEP Biochemical industry key to grown by 2015: SLEP

By Heather Wright,  Sarnia This Week

SARNIA-LAMBTON - By 2015 the Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership wants to see three new bio-based energy companies build plants in the region and 250 small businesses created.

That’s two of the key points of SLEP’s three-year strategic plan which was recently unveiled.

SLEP General Manager, George Mallay, says fossil fuels and the industries which support them will always play a vital role in the region’s economy but biochemical industries will be a strong growth area. He points to companies such as Solutions4CO2, which will capture carbon dioxide to help grow algae to produce bio pharmaceuticals and bio fuel, and BioAmber, which will use plants to create a bio-succinic acid to create plastics and things like spandex, as examples of that growth.

“There is real opportunity on the bio-side,” says Mallay. “There has been no real innovation since the 1970s in plastics…now bio is big. That’s where there is opportunity for Sarnia,” he says comparing it to Dow arriving in the community in the 1940s, sparking industrial growth.

Mallay says SLEP will also continue to help local industrial companies find ways to build equipment for Alberta’s oil sands project. That will include finding a harbour and a dedicated shipping route to that harbour for large equipment.

Mallay says growing small business will also be key in growing the local economy in the next three years. He says SLEP wants to see 250 new businesses, supporting 400 employees, by 2015.

Mallay says as the call center industry declines – NCO is set to close its 400 employee shop in Sarnia this spring – there are other opportunities. He points to large companies, such as Bell Canada and Sears, who have moved their call centers from places such as India back to North America.

“We’ve marketed the NCO property to 20 different site selectors,” says Mallay expressing hope that another IT or data processing firm will be interested.

SLEP also wants to see development in the agriculture community, specifically food production. SLEP has set a goal of attracting one food processor to the region by 2015. “We have access to lots of water (for food processing) and there are lots of sites in the county and the city.

The three-year plan also targets immigration growth above the provincial average, helping Lambton College get funding for a new medical facility and increase the university presence in the community.

The plan also calls for a rebranding of the community.

SLEP Chair, Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley, says the ambitious goals can be met pointing to the fact that 10 years ago things such as the Research Park were only an idea.

“We’ve had struggles in the past,” he says. “Sarnia-Lambton can truly be a renaissance area in the future…We will prove the planners wrong about population growth and we will prove people outside this community which mock its image.”

Sarnia This Week Article ID# 3543022

Optimism for Sarnia's job market2012-04-21

By Cathy Dobson,  from   The Observer

The gloom of an 11% unemployment rate in Sarnia-Lambton lifted somewhat Friday with news that a great deal is being done behind the scenes to create jobs.

And at least one sector is experiencing growth and hiring professionals locally, say economic development officials.

“I feel optimistic,” said George Mallay, general manager at the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership (SLEP).

His county-funded office has 11 staff committed to attracting new business and industry to the area.

“We have to serve both ends of the market, both skilled and semi-skilled jobs,” Mallay said.

He projects as many as 250 new businesses will open in Sarnia-Lambton by 2015, creating 400 jobs.

SLEP also expects to attract three new manufacturing plants in the next three years and to announce new tenants at the local research park.

There will also be new commercial ventures in the downtown core, related to the opening of the new public art gallery this year, said Mallay.

He released SLEP’s new three-year strategic plan at a breakfast attended by 160 community leaders at the Lambton Inn Friday.

Interest in the strategic plan’s release appeared to be heightened given the area’s recent economic challenges and job loss.

About 500 call centre and casino jobs are due to disappear within the coming weeks, with little on the horizon for unskilled or semi-skilled workers.

While efforts are underway to replace those jobs, Mallay said the picture is brighter at the other end of the hiring spectrum.

The city’s engineering sector is expanding and dozens of highly-skilled workers are being added to the local workforce.

“We will be hiring two dozen or more engineers and project management people in Sarnia,” confirmed Leslie Quinton, vice-president of global corporate communications for SNC Lavalin Inc. on Front Street North.

The new jobs are permanent positions needed for projects both in Sarnia and elsewhere, Quinton said.

“We expect to have modest growth between now and the end of the year.”

Other industry insiders say engineering firms in Sarnia are hiring permanent and contract positions this spring. Some jobs are being filled in anticipation of proposed Sarnia-based projects still to be confirmed.

WorleyParsons’ Sarnia office recently advertised for about 40 long-term positions, including senior, intermediate and junior engineering and project management personnel.

“Not all the projects they are hiring for are in Sarnia,” Mallay said. “But the work will be done in Sarnia.”

Many projects are in Alberta but there’s a shortage of skilled professionals for hire there, he said.

“It’s easier to attract and retain them in Ontario.”

Mallay’s strategic plan had more good news, this time for small business, historically responsible for a lot of local job creation.

There are some 7,000 businesses with fewer than 19 employees, a number that has remained steady despite the city’s economic challenges.

Over the next three years, Mallay said SLEP intends to:

• focus on attracting food processing plants, like the Dr. Oetker pizza plant that just located in London;

• try to attract another call centre that could use the space vacated by NCO on Modeland Road;

• leverage existing Information Technology and data processing initiatives at Lambton College;

• keep its key focus on the chemistry industry, the potential of Marcellus shale gas, biobased plants and oil sands opportunities.

Bio-tech firm setting up shop in Energy Park2012-04-12

From The Observer,

A Canadian bio-tech company has announced its opening a 50,000 square foot research and development facility at TransAlta’s
Bluewater Energy Park in Sarnia.

Solutions4CO2 Inc. is working to capture and use waste carbon dioxide from industry to grow microalgae for use in the making
of pharmaceutical drugs, biofuels and other products.

The research and development facility is expected to initially employ between six and 10 people, said CEO Doug Kemp-Welch

There are also plans to make Sarnia the company’s global headquarters, he said.

“All of our international research and development will be located there,” he said, adding several of the company’s joint
venture partners are also expected to be located at the Sarnia site.

“We’ve looked very, very diligently around North America for an ideal site, and Sarnia came out on top of the list,”
Kemp-Welch said.

The senior Solutions4CO2 official in Sarnia will be Doug Legge, the company’s vice-president of global operations.

He previously worked for Laidlaw Environmental Services, later Safety-Kleen, in Lambton and most recently was a
vice-president for a Salt Lake City based biomass gasification technology company.

“The Bluewater Energy Park is an ideal site, for not only this R and D facility, but for the first commercial facility we’re
looking to site,” Kemp-Welch said.

That future plant could employ as many as 50 people in 250,000 to 300,000 square feet of space, Kemp-Welch said.

“Optimistically, we hope to have it started in at least about 12 months.”

The Sustainable Chemistry Alliance, based at the University of Western Ontario Research Park, invested in Solutions4CO2 and
it was announced in the fall the company was planning a demonstration facility in Sarnia.

“We’re very excited about moving in and getting it up and running,” Kemp-Welch said, “and becoming an ever increasing part of
the local Sarnia economic scene.”

Peter Smith, TransAlta’s director of commercial management for Eastern Canada, said Solutions4CO2 is leasing part of a former
Dow Chemical building located on the St. Clair River.

“It’s a combination of offices and laboratories,” Smith said.

Kemp-Welch said TransAlta has been very supportive and also operates a co-generation facility in Sarnia “that produces the
feed stock we need for our process.”

He said Solutions4CO2 has taken possession of the space in the building at the energy park and is preparing to move in.

“You’ll start to see labs commissioned and some of the other R and D equipment starting to arrive on site this month,”
Kemp-Welch said.

Solutions4CO2 also announced this week it’s entering a joint venture with BARD Holdings, Inc., a U.S. based commercial-scale
algae production company.

The joint venture combines Solutions4CO2’s gas capture and infusion system with BARD’s algae cultivation and processing
system, according to Surajit Khanna, chairperson and CEO of Bard Holding, Inc.

“The area around Sarnia,” Khanna said in a press release, “also known as Chemical Valley, with its varied sources of CO2
emissions is an ideal location to base this world class research and development facility.”

Smith said the joint venture is the first tenant in TransAlta’s Bluewater Energy Park.

“It’s a bit of a breakthrough for us, getting that first one in,” he said. “Obviously, we’re hoping this is going to lead to
attracting some additional business in there.”

TransAlta acquired the 170-acre site from Dow Chemical after that company shut down its Sarnia operations.

Solutions4CO2 is a good fit with local initiatives to attract green and renewable industries, Smith said.

That has been one of the priorities of the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership and other groups based at the University of
Western Ontario Research Park on Modeland Road.

“We’re getting closer to the end result,” said Murray McLaughlin, president of the Sustainable Chemistry Alliance, a group
working to develop Canada’s bio-industry.

“We’re waiting for that shovel to get in the ground at Bio-Amber in April, as well.”

Montreal-based Bio-Amber Inc., is building an $80-million first-of-it’s-kind plant on part of the existing Lanxess site in
Sarnia. It will make biosuccinic acid from corn for use in plastics, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and other products.

Spandex will stretch size of Sarnia plant2012-04-03

By Heather Wright, from   Sarnia This Week 

The shovel hasn’t even hit the ground yet and BioAmber says it will more than double the size of its Sarnia biosuccinic acid plant.

And it’s all because of spandex.

BioAmber announced in September that it plans to build an $80million biosuccinic acid plant in the Chemical Valley. Succinic acid is one of the main chemical building blocks of everything from auto parts to packaging. BioAmber developed a product to make the formerly oil-based acid with plants instead. And the uses for the biosuccinic acid are growing.

During a recent conference in Sarnia held by the BioIndustrial Innovation Center Bio Amber Executive Vice President Mike Hartmann said the company is ready to produce chemical used in spandex.

“We successfully scaled up technology to make BDO...(for) spandex,” says Hartmann. “We’ve successfully used our biosuccinic acid from our French plant and have samples for customers to use.”

Spandex is used world wide in clothing. Hartmann says that means there is a huge market for the new bio-based version. “Customer demand seems to be very strong and a lot of people like what we’re doing,” says Hartmann.

And that is good news for Sarnia. When BioAmber announced the biosuccinic plant last year, it was already showing drawings for expansion. But Hartmann says using it in spandex has guaranteed that expansion.

“As we finish Sarnia One, we can go right to Sarnia Two and expand capacity and then use some of that capacity to make BDO.

“The total size (of the second phase) will be bigger in the will actually be more than doubled.

“We are definitely going to be here for a while and keep building.”

Sarnia This Week Article ID# 3524080

Hiring now for Sarnia JYSK2012-03-10

By Cathy Dobson, from   The Observer
Extract from  "Your Business" column

New jobs will be created when a new JYSK Bed, Bath and Home opens at 500 Murphy Rd. this summer.

JYSK has announced it is moving into the vacant area adjacent to the Real Canadian Superstore. It's not clear yet how large the store will be or how many will be hired. However, the space where formerly occupied by Winners and The Source is empty and appears to be under renovation.

JYSK bills itself as a “quality for less” store with affordable prices. It specializes in furniture, accessories, mattresses, bedding and outdoor products.

The company, which started in Denmark in 1979, is undergoing intense growth particularly in the Canadian market.

JYSK opened its first Canadian store in 1996 and now has 50 locations across the country. Locations closest to Sarnia include two in London and one in Windsor.

While no one from the company has yet to comment on the new store, JYSK Bed, Bath and Home is advertising for a store manager.

This is great news for the community, which has seen a fair number of new buildings constructed in the past year with few new retailers establishing themselves there. Take the Exmouth Street plaza where the LCBO is currently located. It will soon move to a new location on Quinn Drive now under construction. Moore's Men's Wear, in the same Exmouth Street plaza, is also moving to the new LCBO building on Quinn.

That sort of “shuffle” in retail space leaves a large amount of empty space. It's unknown if anything new is set to move in on Exmouth Street. Meanwhile, the building going up on Quinn is large enough for a third retailer, yet to be announced.

Rooftop solar panels planned2012-03-10

By Paul Morden, from   The Observer

The start of construction on buildings equipped with rooftop solar panels could move ahead later this year at industrial parks in Warwick and St. Clair townships.

Montreal-based Real-Flex Business Parks announced plans in June last year for the $1.8-million projects in each community.

The solar panels are expected to be able to generate 250 kw of electricity.

Initially, construction was expected to begin early this year but vice-president Jon-Erik Dillon said the company is still completing paperwork needed for the solar panels.

“The capacity is there on the grid for us to do the project,” he said.

Marketing to attract commercial tenants for the 23,000-square-foot buildings should begin in the coming weeks, Dillon said.

But construction may not begin now until the fall as the company works to finalize plans and approvals for both sites in Lambton.

“We’re trying to do both developments at the same time,” Dillon said. “It just makes more sense.”

Observer Article ID# 3496785

Job prospects2012-03-09

From  Fox 99.9 FM

An Alberta-based module fabrication company is expressing interest in the Sarnia area. Oak Point Energy was in attendance at a shipping conference in Sarnia Thursday. The company says operating in and shipping from southern Ontario would be less expensive than Alberta. Co-President & CEO Ken James tells Blackburn News the company would like to establish a 20-million dollar pilot facility in southern Ontario over the next year. Another 10 pilot plants would follow, after which the company would look at several full-scale builds, each worth around 150-million dollars.

Fabricated modules would be shipped to development and oil sands sites in Alberta and assembled there. James says each full-scale fabrication facility would employ some 15-hundred workers. The company hopes to start developing those by late 2013.

Chemistry sector deserves more attention2012-03-09

By Cathy Dobson,  from   The Observer

Local leaders are knocking on the premier’s door to ensure the provincial government recognizes the full potential of the petrochemical, refining and bio-products sector.

They’ve requested a meeting with Premier Dalton McGuinty to convince him that the manufacturing of industrial bioproducts and fuels is just as important as other sectors like information technology, automotive and energy.

There’s been some provincial investment in bio-related projects, says George Mallay, general manager at the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership (SLEP).

“But we think the opportunity is larger than the effort being directed at it. The chemistry sector could be given a higher level of priority,” he said.

Mallay hopes McGuinty will agree to sit down with a Sarnia delegation that includes politicians, industrial, labour, real estate, business and agricultural reps to talk about the importance of the chemistry sector to Ontario and to Canada.

Sarnia-Lambton is virtually the only region in Ontario that has the infrastructure to tap into the potential of the Marcellus shale and Alberta oil sands projects, Mallay said.

So, it’s up to local leaders to ensure there’s provincial support for associated development in Ontario, particularly in Sarnia-Lambton.

The province has invested in BioAmber’s Sarnia project that will see a worldscale bio-succinic acid manufacturing facility built in Chemical Valley.

The McGuinty government has also provided $10 million to the local Bioindustrial Innovation Centre.

But Mallay said much more needs to be done to create more jobs in southwestern Ontario.

“There’s a real opportunity for Ontario in industrial bio-products but we can’t do it on our own,” Mallay said. “Same with the oil sands. The province needs to be a key player for us.”

He said Conservative MPP Bob Bailey “does what he can for us,” but Sarnia-Lambton gets little provincial investment compared to other areas of the province.

“I don’t think we’re getting what we deserve,” Mallay said.

Apart from financial investment, the delegation is also going after regulatory processes and tax policies that are more attractive to the private sector.

“We continue to see high unemployment in southern Ontario and we really think this is an area where there’s opportunity for real job creation,” said Mallay.

Observer Article ID# 3496644

Manufacturer eyes Sarnia2012-03-09

By Daniel Punch,  from   The Observer

An Alberta oil sands company is looking to manufacture equipment in Sarnia, which could mean hundreds of millions of dollars for the local economy, officials say.

Oak Point Energy is seeking the right location to build modules for its oil-recovery technology. CEO Ken James visited Sarnia Thursday to meet with city officials and local businesses to discuss logistics.

The company is building a $20 million pilot steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) facility this year, with plans to build multiple $150 million facilities in the future.

Manufacturing is expensive in Alberta, and the province lacks the Ontario’s infrastructure and stable labour force, James said.

Sarnia has the skill and manufacturing facilities already in place, and its location on the St. Clair River would makes shipping modules to Alberta much easier, he said.

“There’s some tremendous opportunities in the Sarnia area,” James said.

The pilot facility will require 12 modules, 65 feet long and 14 feet wide. Each module could take up to a year to build.

If all goes well with the pilot, Oak Point Energy could require over 10 larger modules per year, said James.

“The job spin off of that alone would fill the shops in Sarnia,” James said.

Kel-Gor, Chemfab and LamSar have all been discussed as potential module fabricators. And Sarnia-Lambton has many smaller companies able to do the work, said Ray Curran of the Sarnia Construction Association.

This could be a major boost during slow times for Sarnia’s 5,000-man construction union work force, Curran said.

“Everything’s here, the shops are well set up, and they’re ready to work,” he said.

James met with mayor Mike Bradley for an hour Thursday.

The Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership (SLEP) has been working for years to convince Alberta businesses that Sarnia can support their manufacturing needs.

The efforts have not gone unnoticed, according to James.

“Sarnia is one of those rare places in North America that’s actually industry friendly,” James said.

The biggest obstacle facing the project is transportation.

Modules can easily be shipped on water from Sarnia to Thunder Bay, but getting from Thunder Bay to Manitoba is another story.

Infrastructure in what James calls the “400 miles of mystery” can accommodate 14-foot modules, but not the larger units Oak Point Energy plans to build in the future. For manufacturing in Sarnia to work, infrastructure projects are needed between Thunder Bay and Manitoba.

SLEP sent a letter to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty Thursday requesting a meeting to discuss attracting investment to the province.

“It would be great to see Sarnia be the catalyst,” James said.

James plans to return to Sarnia on a regular basis, hoping to keep the wheels in motion. Repairing the broken relationship between Ontario and Alberta is an important step toward making the project work, he said.

Bradley believes the city is ready and the time is now.

“This is a now project, if its going to happen, decisions are going to be made in the coming months,” Bradley said.

Observer Article ID# 3496771

Ontario and the oil sands2012-03-08

By Heather Wright, from   The Observer

There are jobs that can be created: Bradley

SARNIA-LAMBTON - Local politicians say the premier is being short-sighted when he runs down the Alberta oil sands.

Dalton McGuinty was on the defensive recently after the Alberta premier suggested he should be more supportive of oil sand development since Ontario stands to benefit from it.

But McGuinty wouldn’t give his support saying Canada’s high “petro dollar” was hurting Ontario.

“That has knocked the wind out of Ontario exporters and manufacturing in particular,” Mr. McGuinty told reporters in Toronto. “So if I had my preferences as to whether we had a rapidly growing oil and gas sector in the west or a lower dollar, I’ll tell you where I stand: with the lower dollar.”

McGuinty later clarified his remarks saying he would like to see all of Canada to do well, but didn’t apologize.

That has left Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley “puzzled.”

Bradley says Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership has been making connections in Alberta’s oil patch for the past 18 months trying to link secondary manufacturers with oil sands producers who are desperate for help.

“There are jobs that can be created,” says Bradley. “They need the skills that are available here in Sarnia-Lambton...They’re 100,000 people short of skilled labour...they’re even going to Ireland to get it.”

Bradley says Ontario could be cashing in. And studies show there is money to be made. A Canadian Energy Research Institute study shows Ontario could create 65,000 jobs and $63 billion in economic spin offs from the oil sands in 25 years.

“If Canada wants to be a true energy superpower, that’s what (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper has talked about - it has to have this type of cooperation between provinces,” says Bradley.”

Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey agrees. He says more benefits could be realized if Ontario partnered with the private sector to build a new upgrader in Sarnia to refine oil sands crude.

“The material could be sent through an existing pipeline corridor to Sarnia to be refined. The economic benefits could be enormous,” said Bailey. “But Dalton McGuinty is too short-sighted to see that potential.”

Bradley says the premier may not want to link Ontario to the oil sands, preferring to stay the “green” course.

“Some days I feel like the fossil fuel/chemical industry is the Rodney Dangerfield of the energy industry because of the way it is treated by the provincial government,” he says, referring to the comedian who quipped he didn’t get respect. “We can’t change the dollar. The oil sands are still going to be developed. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of it?”

Observer Article ID# 3495192

Nova Chemicals gears up for expansion2012-03-07

By Paul Morden,  from   The Observer

Nova Chemicals has a lot to talk about at a public open house it’s holding March 20 at the legion hall in Corunna.

The list includes a eight-kilometre pipeline Nova is seeking federal approval to build so it can move Marcellus shale ethane from an existing river crossing to the company’s Corunna plant.

Plus the company is studying expanding the plant’s ethylene production, increasing polyethylene production at its nearby Moore site, and building a new world-scale polyethylene plant in Sarnia-Lambton.

“It definitely is an exciting time for Nova’s eastern operations,” said spokesperson Rob Thompson.

The company is already at work converting the Corunna plant from using primarily oil-based feedstock to ethane.

Company officials said last year they expected that work to be completed for less than $250 million.

The pipeline project Nova is seeking regulatory approval for will allow it to connect to an existing valve site near La Salle Line and access ethane produced from the Marcellus Shale formation in the eastern U.S.

Nova also plans to build a shorter pipeline connecting its Corunna plant with the nearby Provident storage site.

“This emerging feedstock is an important opportunity to ensure our continued competitive economic viability, today and into the future,” Thompson said. “It’s a game changer.”

Ethane is less expensive, doesn’t have to be shipped as far and “it’s a cleaner technology in terms of the environmental impacts,” Thompson said.  “Our hope is that we would be utilizing the feedstock by 2013.”

Last year, Nova announced a 10-year strategy it calls “Nova 2020” and said it’s studying expanding ethylene production at Corunna, as well as looking at the feasibility of building a new world-scale polyethylene plant in the Sarnia area and boosting production at its existing Moore facility.

Ethylene is used to make polyethylene, a material found in shrink wrap, trash cans, automotive parts and other consumer products.

Decisions on whether or not to go ahead with the new plant, and other production expansions, are expected be made later this year, Thompson said.

The open house runs 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Royal Canadian Legion hall on Albert Street in Corunna.

“Public consultation is obviously very important to us, through this whole process,” Thompson said.

The company wants to make sure “our neighbours are engaged and informed in the process,” he said.

“That’s why we wanted to talk openly about all our plans.”

Nova Chemicals’ three plant sites in Sarnia-Lambton employ about 900 people.

The company, headquartered in Calgary, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the International Petroleum Investment Company of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Observer Article ID# 3492896

From Sarnia by water2012-03-06

By Heather Wright,   The Observer

Manufacturers look to expand using Great Lakes to transport prefab equipment

SARNIA-LAMBTON - Sarnia-Lambton’s engineers, metal fabricators and industrial services companies have the technology and skill to make big bucks in Alberta’s oil sands. And the Great Lakes may increasingly be the corridor they use to get their products there.

The Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership is exploring ways to ship large freight from Sarnia-Lambton to the west. It’s not a new idea, but it is a hot topic as the Sarnia Lambton Industrial Alliance looks for ways to cash in on the oil boom being created by the oil sands projects in places such as Fort McMurray.

George Mallay, general manager of SLEP, says some local business have already entered the Alberta market. LamSar, KelGor and Chemfab all have customers in Alberta. But Mallay wants to encourage more firms involved in engineering, metal fabrication and industrial services to look to the west.

“There is a significant opportunity to do more manufacturing of modules (machinery which can be transported and then set up on site),“ says Mallay.

"We have an opportunity to secure an opportunity to fill those gaps.”

Using the Great Lakes waterway is an economical way of getting the products made in Sarnia Lambton to Alberta.

“The key thing with Sarnia is getting the product to a harbour site and then putting it on a barge to get it to Thunder Bay or Duluth and then onto the rail to Alberta.”

SLEP is hosting a forum about shipping large goods tomorrow (March 8). Officials from the Port of Thunder Bay, and CN will be on hand.

And while Mallay hopes to spur more business to use the Great Lakes as the gateway to cashing in on the oil sands, there are still some things which need to be worked out locally. Mike Banovsky, co-chair of the Sarnia Lambton Industrial Alliance, says the key to opening up the west is improving access to Sarnia's waterfront.

"We see a big opportunity in Alberta shipping these units, but we want to make a corridor for other fabricators and machine shops to use," he says. "That the (hydro and communications) wires are either buried or (strung) higher. It makes it easker for everybody to use the dedicated path.

"We're trying to make it so everybody knows the costs of shipping," he adds. "Contractors quoting on the price of those thingse know the cost of the pipe, know the cost for the welding...the challenge or the scary part is when you start shipping these things...If you get hung up with some wire, everyone has to get involved - hydro and police - and your costs start to go up."

Banovsky, who worked in industry for years and dealt with shipping projects for ChemFab, says making it easier to use the Great Lakes would "make our shops more competitive for the business out west ...with all the work in Alberta, we could fill up shops in Sarnia-Lambton if we could get a dedicated corridor."

But Mallay says finding the solutions to any obstacles could expand business in more than just Alberta’s oil fields. “We’ve specialized for the oil sands projects, but it (the Great Lakes transportation route) can also serve other industries. It could be for mining or the petrochemical industry,” says Mallay. “We’re looking for solutions to make things better.”

Observer Article ID# 3491696

Lanxess invests $10 million in BioAmber2012-02-24

From   The Observer

Aiming to establish the ‘largest bio-industrial park in Canada’

A bio-industrial company with plans to build a world-scale plant in Sarnia has received a major investment from a local partner.

Lanxess announced Wednesday it has invested $10 million USD in the U.S.-based BioAmber Inc. It will also be a minority shareholder and have a seat on BioAmber’s board of directors.

The companies already have a longstanding partnership.

BioAmber will build its $80-million biosuccinic acid plant on part of the existing Lanxess site by 2013. The companies have also developed plasticizers that are sustainable alternatives to phthalate-containing formulations.

“Lanxess is actively engaged in leveraging its Sarnia site to establish the largest bio-industrial park in Canada, offering land, energy and infrastructure for the development of new bio-industrial chemicals,” said Sandy Marshall, president of Lanxess Canada in a news release.

BioAmber’s Sarnia plant is expected to create 40 full-time jobs, along with 150 construction jobs. Its initial capacity will be 17,000 tonnes per year, with plans to double by 2014.

Sarnia beat out more than 100 North American sites for the plant, said Mike Hartmann, BioAmber’s corporate affairs vice-president last August.

It was chosen for its abundance of corn, nearby facilities that make glucose, nearby colleges and universities, skilled work force and existing infrastructure.

Observer Article ID# 3480975

LANXESS invests in BioAmber2012-02-22

Press Releases, Financial & Business, Trade & Technical Press, Performance Chemicals, Functional Chemicals 

LANXESS strengthens commitment to renewable raw materials with investment in BioAmber

•USD 10 million investment in U.S.-based BioAmber
•Companies have developed phthalate-free plasticizers from bio-based succinic acid
Leverkusen - LANXESS is strengthening its commitment to renewable raw materials by investing USD 10 million in U.S. company BioAmber, Inc., based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., as part of a private placement.

BioAmber is a global leader in succinic acid produced from renewable resources such as corn. Together, the two companies have developed plasticizers, whose cost-effectiveness and safety profile make them sustainable alternatives to phthalate-containing formulations. Market entry is expected later this year. In addition, both companies are in talks to extend their partnership into further product areas in the future.

As part of the investment, LANXESS has received a minority shareholding in BioAmber and a seat on the Board of Directors, which will be filled by Jorge Nogueira, head of LANXESS' Functional Chemicals business unit that manufactures phthalate-free plasticizers. BioAmber was founded in October 2008 and has 40 full-time employees.

BioAmber produces succinic acid through the fermentation of renewable raw materials. The process developed by BioAmber consumes considerably less energy than the production of succinic acid using fossil fuels, is significantly more cost-effective and has a better carbon footprint. In the future, the company plans to use waste from the agriculture industry and sugarcane processing as starting materials.

"Our investment in BioAmber shows our commitment to launching a new generation of plasticizers that meet regulatory requirements and can also score in terms of sustainability," said LANXESS' Nogueira.

"We are pleased to have LANXESS as a strategic investor alongside Naxos, Sofinnova, Mitsui & Co. Ltd. and Cliffton," said Jean-Francois Huc, BioAmber's CEO. "BioAmber is fortunate to have a strong, committed group of investors and we welcome Jorge Nogueira, a dynamic and experienced chemical industry executive, to our board".

Phthalate-free plasticizers gaining importance

As a global leader in the field of phthalate-free plasticizers, LANXESS has large production capacities, expertise in production and a global distribution network. Its key products include Mesamoll, Adimoll, Ultramoll, Unimoll and Uniplex. Through the acquisition of the UNITEX Chemical Corporation based in Greensboro, North Carolina, LANXESS also now has access to an additional capacity of 50,000 metric tons per year, plus an extensive portfolio of phthalate-free plasticizers such as benzoates, citrates and sulfonamides.

BioAmber manufactures bio-based succinic acid in Pomacle, France, at a plant with 3,000 metric tons of capacity per year. BioAmber plans to add a further 17,000 metric tons of capacity from 2013 with a new world-scale manufacturing facility to be built in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, at LANXESS' site there. Both companies are preparing agreements for LANXESS to provide BioAmber with the land as well as the utilities and services needed to operate the facility.

The global market for phthalate-free plasticizers is currently estimated at EUR 1.3 billion - with annual growth rates of around seven percent. As a result of regulatory developments, demand for phthalate-free plasticizers is growing in markets such as North America, Western Europe and Japan. An increase in demand is also being observed in global growth markets such as Latin America. Authorities are increasingly restricting the use of phthalate-containing plasticizers for consumer goods such as toys, food packaging and cables.

Bio-sourcing initiatives

LANXESS is strongly committed to using renewable raw materials to produce premium synthetic rubbers. At the end of 2011, LANXESS produced the world's first bio-based EPDM rubber in Brazil. The Brazilian company Braskem supplies the raw material ethylene derived from sugarcane. The rubber is marketed under the name Keltan Eco.

In addition, LANXESS has invested in U.S. biofuel and biochemical manufacturer Gevo, Inc., which produces isobutanol from renewable resources such as corn. LANXESS plans to convert the isobutanol to isobutene, a key raw material for the manufacture of butyl rubber.

LANXESS is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 7.1 billion in 2010 and currently around 16,100 employees in 30 countries. The company is at present represented at 47 production sites worldwide. The core business of LANXESS is the development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber, intermediates and specialty chemicals. LANXESS is a member of the leading sustainable indices Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) World and FTSE4Good.

BioAmber is a next generation chemicals company. Its proprietary technology platform combines industrial biotechnology, an innovative purification process and chemical catalysis to convert renewable feedstocks into chemicals for use in a wide variety of everyday products including plastics, food additives and personal care products. BioAmber produces bio-succinic acid in what it believes to be one of the world's largest bio-based chemical manufacturing

Sarnia building boom2012-02-21

By Barbara Simpson,  from   The Observer

Population isn't the only growth being touted for the City of Sarnia.

January was a banner month for building permits issued in, according to the city’s chief building official.

The city issued 16 building permits worth $9.2 million this January. Last year, in the same month, it doled out 13 permits valued at $2.6 million.

It’s in line with a booming trend in construction across Ontario, according to a release from the province. Ontario saw 77,300 units of housing starts last month up from 69,600 units in December.

While the province is seeing growth in housing construction, Sarnia reported more growth in the commercial sector. Only three of the issued permits were for single-family homes in January.

Loblaw Properties Ltd. received a $500,000 permit for storefront renovations at its Murphy Road plaza. BP Canada plans to do a $3 million office renovation and addition.

These high-figure building permits issued in the city are also in line with the trend across the province. Ontario saw the value of permits rise sharply to $2.9 billion in December.

For Alan Shaw, the city’s chief building official, the $7.5-million addition and renovation to the Vision Nursing Home & Vision Rest Home on Wellington Street stands out. The facility currently has 110 long-term care beds with 108 permanent placement beds and two respite beds.

Ray Curran, of the Sarnia Construction Association, said he was pleased about the increased number of building permits. However, he doesn’t expect it’ll have much of an impact with workers in his association.

“We haven’t seen much change in our sector, which is primarily the heavy industrial sector, but it’s good to hear that progress is being made,” he said. “We’re happy to hear that.”

January was also positive for the local real estate market. It was the second highest January in a decade with sales of $24.1 million.

“We had a fantastic January, which is actually carrying through from our fall,” said Donna Mathewson, president of the Sarnia-Lambton Real Estate Board. “We had a record-breaking November, December; January’s the same.”

While Mathewson is predicting a strong year in the local real estate market, Shaw expects more of an “average year.”

“The last five years, with the exception of last year, were record years, but this year we’ll see more of a year from the last 10 years,” he said. 

Sarnia Observer Article ID# 3476783

Strong start to construction2012-02-03

From   The Observer

Local construction got off to a strong start this year.

Sarnia issued 16 building permits with a construction value of $9.2 million in January, compared to 13 building permits worth $2.6 million last January.

Several major building permits were issued last month. The Vision ‘74 Nursing & Rest Home will undergo a $7.5 million addition and renovation, while BP Canada is planning a $3 million office renovation and addition.

Sarnia Observer Article ID# 3458635

City wins national honour2012-02-02

By Barbara Simpson,   from   The Observer

The City of Sarnia has won a national award for promoting the summer employment of students with disabilities.

Mayor Mike Bradley accepted the corporate social responsibility award on behalf of the city at the 2012 HR Summit Awards in Toronto Tuesday night. The city was nominated for its innovative Mayor’s Challenge that links private and public sector employers with student workers with disabilities for the summer.

Bradley said it was rather emotional to accept the award after all the hard work the city has spent promoting the message.

“For the last number of years, we’ve been trying to communicate to the rest of Ontario that hiring those intellectually challenged is not charity,” he said Wednesday. “It’s good for business and it’s good for the community.”

Bradley hopes the city’s message touched the crowd of about 500 in attendance at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The awards organized by the Human Resources Professionals Association attracted many who are responsible for hiring decisions in the public and private sectors.

Bradley credits Sarnia’s now-retired HR manager Kathy Meade for her work in promoting the hiring of people with disabilities.

Bradley has already received dozens of emails of congratulations, including a special one from Lt.-Gov. David Onley.

“Well done Mike and team!” Onley wrote in an email. “Well done Sarnia! Thank you for your leadership.”

The accomplished former journalist is Ontario’s first lieutenant-governor with a disability. He has spent his life championing accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities.

Bradley said Onley is expected to visit Sarnia again in April. He will meet with the local business community to promote hiring of those with disabilities.

Observer Article ID#3456344

Artwalk kicked up a notch with Trillium grant2012-01-25

By Cathy Dobson   from   The Observer

Artwalk has a reputation as the summer street party with a whole lot of volunteers and goodwill. Now it’s also the street party with a whole lot of money.

Ten years after the two-day festival started in downtown Sarnia, the Ontario Trillium Foundation has approved a grant of $130,000 over two years.

“Everything will be kicked up a notch,” said president Shawn McKnight who helped co-found Artwalk in 2002. “We’ll have more performers, a more professional stage area, more marketing, more of everything.”

Artwalk was founded as a way to lure tourists to the downtown in conjunction with a Tall Ships Festival on the waterfront. That first year was an overwhelming success with about 25 artisans demonstrating and selling their work.  “It created a huge buzz in the arts community and has been incredibly well supported by the city,” said McKnight.

Over time, Artwalk grew and Christina Street had to be closed to traffic for safety reasons. A children’s village was added, street performers, musicians and an environmental component took off.

Last year, an estimated 25,000 people attended over two days.

“In the long run, the grassroots have built Artwalk and given the community a time and place to get together and celebrate the arts,” McKnight said.  “It’s been working. It’s a true community builder, and now it’s going to be sustainable.”

The $130,000 grant has enabled the festival to hire downtown bookstore owner Billie Jo Gage as co-ordinator and to contract locally-owned Storyboard Solutions to do marketing and project management.

“We now have an opportunity to offer a free concert on Friday and bring in a headline act on Saturday,” said Chris Lewis of Storyboard Solutions. “We can go after more grant opportunities and pay for advertising for the first time.”

Artwalk will continue to depend on thousands of hours of volunteer time but some of the “relationship building” that brings in sponsors and makes the festival a success can be done by a paid person, said Lewis who has a professional background in event organizing.

“It feels great to see someone paid for great community work,” McKnight said. Gage, for instance, has volunteered her time to Artwalk for years and will now earn a paycheque.

“There’s always a danger of volunteer burnout and, over time, I saw that we needed funding. The Trillium grant is exactly what we needed,” McKnight said.

Artwalk 2012 takes place June 2-3. Visit for more information.

Observer Article ID# 3447780

Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership appoints Officers and Board of Director2012-01-24

Sarnia-Lambton, Ontario - The Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership is pleased to announce its Officers and Board of Directors for 2012.

At today’s Board of Directors meeting, three Officers were re-elected to their 2011 positions. Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley will continue as Chair. Lambton County CAO Ron Van Horne will continue as Treasurer, and Bruce Hein, owner of Express Employment Professionals, will continue as Vice-Chair.

The Officers’ positions are filled yearly.

The Board of Directors welcomed new Lambton College President Judy Morris, who replaces Lambton College’s outgoing President Tony Hanlon. Dr. Hanlon served on the Economic Partnership Board since March 2002.

Recently re-elected President of the Sarnia & District Labour Council, Ray Fillion, was welcomed back to the Economic Partnership Board, replacing outgoing Sarnia & District Labour Council President, June Maruschak. Ms. Maruschak served on the Economic Partnership Board since January 2010.

Directors can serve for successive years, if re-elected.

The Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership Board of Directors is as follows:

Don Anderson, General Manager, Business Development Corporation
Warden Steve Arnold, County of Lambton
Chair, Mayor Mike Bradley, City of Sarnia
Sue Drellick, Human Resources Manager, Worley Parsons
Mario Fazio, Broker, Royal LePage Key Realty
Lloyd Fennell, City Manager, City of Sarnia
Garry McDonald, President, Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce
Judy Morris, President, Lambton College
Vice Chair, Bruce Hein, Owner, Express Employment Professionals
Jane Keast, Director Refinery Operations, Suncor Energy Inc.
Ron MacDougall, Farmer, Oil Springs
George Mallay, General Manager, Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership
Ray Fillion, President, Sarnia & District Labour Council
Ross McEachran, President, Vidal Street Industrial Park Inc.
Alex Palimaka, VP Corporate Services and General Counsel, Bluewater Power
Treasurer, Ron Van Horne, CAO, County of Lambton

The Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership has received recognition as one of the top Economic Development organizations in the country.

The Economic Partnership will soon be releasing its Strategic Plan, based on community input, to lead Sarnia-Lambton’s economic growth in the years ahead.

- ## -

For further information:

George Mallay, General Manager
Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership
Telephone 519-332-1820

Getting shipshape in Sarnia2012-01-21
By Tyler Kula,   from   The Observer

When repairing and replacing steel on a bulk cargo ship, the colder the better, says a field superintendent overseeing some of the ship repairs in Sarnia this winter.

“The mild temperatures are actually harder doing the work because the air is heavier,” said Jeff Gibson with Fraser Marine and Industrial.

So a subzero climate is a welcome change from a mostly mild winter, he said.

The cold keeps workers from shedding protective gear while welding, he said.  “The colder it is, to a point, the better.”

The Algoma Central Corporation company is taking on $5 million in repair work for four of the five ships berthed at docks in Sarnia-Lambton.

Eleven ships are expected in the area this winter, officials said, providing a boost to the local economy.

Fraser will have 70 workers on the Algolake alone within two weeks, Gibson said. All are local hires from Sarnia and Lambton County, but many stay in Sarnia hotels and apartments.

“All our safety gear, harnesses, glasses, hard hats, all come from local suppliers as well,” he said.

Ballast tank and bulk head steel work on the Algolake will require about 250,000 pounds (113,398 kilograms) of steel, he said.

Sarnia’s a desired port for ships needing repair, said Garry McDonald, president of the Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce.  “We’ve got a very good reputation in our community for machining and outfitting and refitting marine vessels,” he said.  “It helps our port and our harbour get through the winter season quite nicely.”

The St. Lawrence Seaway closed on Dec. 30, ending a record 284-day shipping season. The previous record was 283 days in 2006.

Some 227,000 jobs and $34 billion in economic activity are supported by moving goods along the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway, according to a recently published Marine Delivers economic impact study.

Environment Canada predicts temperatures will climb above freezing on Sunday and Monday, before settling back to the 0 C mark on Tuesday.

Observer Article ID# 3444021

Fiddick's expansion on schedule2012-01-18

By David Pattenaude,  from   The Petrolia Topic

A $12-million expansion at Fiddick's Nursing Home in Petrolia is "on schedule" for an opening by December of this year.

Administrator Mike Fiddick said "We've been blessed with a mild winter. The weather gods have been good to us."

Bad winter weather could have put the project behind schedule but basement walls are going up and once plumbing work is completed, carpenters can start putting up exterior walls and the roof and the project can continue through the winter, said Fiddick.

Up to 50 new workers will be required for the nursing home expansion and the addition of 36 beds — together with 36 new beds at Vision Nursing Home in Sarnia — will likely eliminate a shortage of long-term care beds in Lambton County, said Fiddick.

This will greatly ease the "clogging" of acute care beds at Lambton County's two hospitals, he said.

Meanwhile, renovations at Fiddick's existing nursing home will be done and completed by March of 2013.

The Fiddick's expansion was finally approved by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in September of 2011. The project was announced in March of 2010 by the Local Health Integration Network, which announced $3 million in new annual funding for the 36 new long-term care beds at both Fiddick's and Vision.

Petrolia Topic Article ID#3440339

Sarnia vying for Keystone oil sands2012-01-17

By Tyler Kula,  from   The Observer

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley speaks to the Golden K Kiwanis club at the Lochiel Kiwanis Community Centre Tuesday about the state of the city. Topics ranged from economics and commercial development to the upcoming city centennial in 2014.

Sarnia is in position to be the site for an oil sands upgrader if a proposed international pipeline deal from Canada's oil sands to the United States falls through, says the city's mayor.

Mike Bradley was speaking at a state of the city address to Golden K Kiwanis club members at the Lochiel Kiwanis Community Centre Tuesday.

"One of the alternatives if that project doesn't go ahead is to look at keeping our resources in Canada, getting the extra value of the jobs here," he said.

Talks have been ongoing for the past 18 months and have included Conservative MP Pat Davidson, he said.

The Keystone Pipeline Project, to move oil and bitumen from the Athabasca Oil Sands in Alberta the United States, is stalled, pending approval from U.S. President Barack Obama.

Meanwhile Canadian Primer Minister Stephen Harper has said China is an alternative destination if the deal fails.

But an in-Canada solution should be given consideration, Bradley said, noting recent talks about a Canadian national energy policy are encouraging.

"One of the big issues in the States is putting in a new pipeline," he said. "We have the pipeline."

An upgrading facility, similar to what could have materialized from the failed Shell refinery project for St. Clair Township in 2008, would create jobs and stabilize industry, he said.

Mike Ireland, senior development consultant with the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership, said officials have recently been promoting Sarnia at oil sands events in Alberta.

"There have been some preliminary discussions involving the Alberta government and Alberta's Industrial Heartland (near Edmonton)," he said. "At this point in time it's still something that we need to get developed and we are working on it."

Any project will need industry support, he said; there are also proposals for Sarnia engineers to manufacture equipment for oil sands use.

Eventually talks will involve the federal government, he said.

When asked about her involvement, Pat Davidson said the talks are nothing new.

"This is something that this community has worked on for a long time and something the community continues to work on," she said.

Keystone however provides Sarnia with a good opportunity to showcase the community's strengths and resources, she said.

Bradley, at his address Tuesday, said he's cautiously optimistic about the city's future.

He highlighted a number of initiatives and challenges, including 12 pilot projects at the Bioindustrial Innovation Centre and the recently announced closure of the NCO call centre.

Decisions are expected this year about commercial expansion; a transportation study is planned and the city is preparing for Sarnia's centennial in 2014.

Observer Article ID# 3439083

Industrial Relocation2012-01-11

From CHOK Radio

The former Fibrex building on Scott Road is no longer vacant. Waste handling company NewAlta is leasing a small portion of the facility. The firm processes used oils and solvents at chemical valley sites and then ships them to market. Manager Tim Bechard says their new location focuses on waste hauling and customer service… replacing a Corunna operation.

Mr Bechard says plans are in the works for construction of an expanded Sarnia facility which would allow them to process materials on site and the Scott road site is an option. The Fibrex building became vacant early last year, when the insulation manufacturer ceased production, costing 160 jobs.

Future looks brighter for local pork producers2012-01-11

By Paul Morden, from   The Observer

Just three years ago, hog farmers in Lambton County were mulling over a federal program aimed at helping them leave their troubled industry.

Some did, but others stayed and today times are much better.

Statistics Canada recently reported Ontario hog prices were up more than 45% from the year before.

"It's a heck of a lot better than what it was," said Chad Stanton, a Forest-area farmer and president of the Lambton Pork Producers.

"There's a lot more hog producers with smiles on their faces going into 2012 than there was for the past three years."

Stanton added, "There is room for profit margin," on local hog farms today, "but it's still not out of the woods yet."

Back in 2009, Ontario's pork industry was hard-hit by overproduction, a high Canadian dollar and the impact of an outbreak of the unfortunately named swine flu.

That incorrectly suggested that hogs carried the virus, and while authorities moved quickly to change the name to the H1N1 flu, the damage was done.

When a promised federal package for the industry arrived in the summer of 2009, it was less than expected.

But it included money to help struggling pork producers leave the industry.

There were said to be 2,700 pork producers in the province at that time. The Pork Ontario website says there are 2,000 today.

Lambton had about 145 hog farmers back in 2009.

"We did lose producers, which is disappointing," Stanton said, adding he's not certain how many left the industry in Lambton.

Like other livestock producers, pork farmers are dealing these days with higher grain prices that increase their feed costs. But, Stanton said that's not all bad.

"High grain prices mean good meat prices," he said.

If the price of the corn used in hog feed was lower again, hog prices would be lower too, according to Stanton.

Federally, the Canadian government continues to challenge the U.S. move to require mandatory country of origin labelling on pork and some other commodities imported and sold there.

Ottawa is also working to open up markets for Canadian pork in South Korea.

"There are a lot of different things I know the government is working on," Stanton said.

But, he added, "it takes time."

Observer Article ID# 3431442

Sun ready to rise on delayed St. Clair solar farms2012-01-11

By Barbara Simpson,  From  The Observer

Two solar energy projects in St. Clair Township are almost ready to switch on the juice.

Construction of the two, 20-megawatt solar farms is complete, confirmed Peter Carrie, vice-president of First Solar Development Canada. Now safety equipment is being tested, ensuring that the relays and controls to remotely access the sites are in working order.

"We are very close to completion," said Peter Carrie, vice-president of First Solar Development Canada. "All the solar panels have been installed and we're just in the final stages of testing and commissioning."

Both the Moore Solar Farm, north of Rokeby Line and west of Highway 40, and the Sombra Solar Farm, south of Bentpath Line and east of Baseline Road, will each produce enough power for about 2,800 homes.

Work has been delayed at the sites for a variety of reasons over the last months. In October, the Ministry of Labour issued a stop work order after a worker received an electric shock at the Moore Solar Farm. "We worked with the Ministry of Labour and contractors to investigate the cause because it is very rare for our workers to get a shock," Carrie said. "We took it very seriously and made sure we understand how it occurred and what measures to ensure it wouldn't happen again."

The stop work order only delayed electrical work for about four days.

"Most of the delays we encountered on both of these projects were a result of just weather this year," Carrie said. "We had a lot of damp, a lot of rain, and when you're doing the work outside, it has an affect on the schedule of course."

The St. Clair Township projects were the first large solar farms approved through Ontario's new Renewable Energy Approval process under the Green Energy Act.

Carrie said he wasn't unaware of any future First Solar projects set for the Sarnia area. However, construction of the company's 10-kilowatt Amherstburg solar farm will begin this year.

Observer Article ID# 3431417

Lowe's officially opens, brings 135 jobs2012-01-11

By Paul Morden, from   The Observer

Sarnia-Lambton politicians were at Lowe's Tuesday to welcome the new home improvement store, and its 135 new jobs, to the city.

Manager Mark Mollard said the 95,000-square-foot store quietly opened its doors on Boxing Day.

"The community has been fantastic," Mollard said. "From the day we opened the doors, we've had an amazing amount of foot traffic."

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said talks about the Lowe's development began three years ago.

"It was a big coup that they decided to come into this marketplace," he said. "They're very respected for their treatment of their employees and their customer service."

The store opening comes as several hundred jobs are being lost with the closing of the local NCO call centre.

"There are a significant number of new jobs here," Bradley said about Lowe's. "They're a very strong corporation, so I expect those jobs to last."

The impact will "spill out into the whole economy," Bradley added.

He called on Sarnia-Lambton MP Patricia Davidson to help him finish sawing through a board Tuesday to officially open the store.

"We don't focus on the competition," Mollard said about the new store's neighbour, Home Depot. "We focus on our four walls and what we need to do."

Opening a new Lowe's store generally costs $20 million, he said.

While the initial round of hiring is all but complete, the store may add another 15 to 20 workers for the spring and summer, he said.

"Most of those will be seasonal jobs."

Lowe's district manager Matt Basso said the Sarnia staff were chosen from "several thousand folks" who applied.

"We're very pleased with the over 130 individuals who were selected . . . many of whom are full-time."

Sarnia's Lowe's is one of the smaller locations among the 30 stores the company has opened in Canada so far, Mollard said.

"But it has, generally, the same item mix, just in a little smaller footprint," he said.

Store number 31 in Niagara Falls was set to have its official opening Wednesday, he said.

"We're continuing to grow quite rapidly in Canada."

The North Carolina-based retailer's first Canadian stored opened in December 2007 after it announced plans to develop as many as 100 locations in Canada.

The Sarnia store also includes a Subway sandwich shop that employs about 10 people.

Mollard grew up in nearby Forest and began working for Lowe's in Michigan after he married an American girl.

He returned to Ontario initially as an assistant manager of a Lowe's store in London and then was appointed manager of the new Sarnia site.

Grand opening activities are planned for this weekend.

At Tuesday's event, Lowe's donated $2,500 to the Sarnia-Lambton YMCA's Strengthening the Community campaign.

Bradley said city hall is current studying where commercial growth should go in the next five to 10 years.

"There's going to be a big debate coming at council this year about should we expand the commercial area, or are we simply allowing it to shift around."

Observer Article ID# 3431473

Petrolia Farmers' Market continues strong sales, crowds2012-01-11

By David Pattenaude,  from   The Petrolia Topic

A report on The Petrolia Farmers' Market, which operated for a second full season in its new permanent location next to the Petrolia Library, shows the market is a valuable contributor to the local economy and social fabric.

In her 2011 annual report, market co-ordinator Sandy Mason said the market has "...quickly become a viable asset that touches on all aspects of life in the community. With about 32,500 visitors over a 22-week period in 2011, we can estimate a $1 million dollar boost to the local economy."

Some 22 per cent of 2011 market visitors were from outside Petrolia. That was two per cent more from 2010. Overall weekly attendance declined a bit from 2010, when the market averaged 1,550 customers per week; compared with 1,475 per week in 2011.

Estimates from weekly sales place the total vendor revenue for the market at just over $150,000 for the 2011 season. Four vendors were new to the market in 2011 and the 29 vendors (19 full-time and 10 part-time) contributed an estimated $55,000 to economic growth in the community with the purchase of supplies, materials and seasonal labour. Ten new seasonal jobs were created as a direct result of the 2011 market.

Mason's report said the market continues to be an asset to the town and is playing an important role in the town's goal to increase tourism and encourage community involvement.

The market — held Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 12 noon — held a number of special events last year, including a Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital 100th anniversary celebration, community barbecues, scrapbooking, meetings, chainsaw carving exhibition, reptile shows, a Canada Day ball hockey event, and a barn dance.

For 20 of the market's 22 weeks, there was a variety of entertainment — which is a valuable part of the market's overall success, said Mason.

Overall, the third year of the market was a success, she said, with sales and attendance maintaining a strong average throughout the season. The market's first season, in 2009, was held inside the Greenwood Recreation Centre.

"Feedback from shoppers continued to be positive," said Mason. "Regulars who shopped weekly not only enjoyed fresh produce and meat, crafts, and baked goods, they also enjoyed the social aspect, talking and relaxing with fellow residents either in the Kerr Cafe building or outside on picnic tables."

Local public service groups and service clubs fundraised and built community awareness at the market and a weekly lottery draw contributed about $4,000 to local charities.

At council's Jan. 3 meeting, Petrolia community services director Dave Menzies said the market has driven more people to the Petrolia library, which now opens an hour earlier on Saturdays because of market visitors, he said.

Petrolia librarian Kim Frijia told The Petrolia Topic the library used to be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. but because of the market opening earlier, people were around at the library doors — and she added " made perfect sense to open an hour earlier and accommodate these people. It's wonderful and a good mix of people and programs."

The library is now open on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.


The Petrolia Farmers' Market will tentatively open for a 22-week, 2012 season on May 26 and close on Oct. 20. The market will be held Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 12 noon.

Petrolia Article ID #3432625

Solutions4C02 demo facility planned for Bluewater Energy Park2012-01-10


Solutions4CO2 Files for IPO on TSX Venture Exchange

Solutions4CO2 Inc. (S4CO2) has filed a preliminary prospectus for a proposed initial public offering (IPO). The offering will be in the form of trance 3 special warrants of a special warrant financing that S4CO2 closed in November 2011.

The prospectus also qualifies 10,952,550 common shares issuable upon the exercise or automatic exercise of 10,952,550 special warrants issued on a private placement basis, of which 1) 7,580,000 were issued on November 1, 2011, 2) 3,075,000 were issued January 6, 2012, and 3) 280,800 and 16,750 were issued to the agent, Macquarie Private Wealth Inc., on November 1, 2011 and January 6, 2012, respectively.

Pursuant to the terms of a definitive agreement dated January 6, 2012 between S$CO2 and Carrus Capital Corporation (YSX-V: CHQ), Carrus who has acquired 3 million tranche 2 special warrants, will acquire 3,000,000 Tranche 3 special warrants as part of the IPO. The prospectus also qualifies the distribution of 2,000,000 common shares issuable upon the exercise of 2,000,000 warrants issued to Carrus Capital on January 6, 2012 pursuant to the Carrus agreement.

Solutions4CO2 has applied to list its common shares on the TSX Venture Exchange

Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP and Davis LLP act as legal counsel to Solutions4CO2 and the agent respectively.

Toronto based Solutions4CO2 designs, builds, operates and maintains industrial solutions to capture waste gas/water streams and process these streams into value added co-products. S4CO2 is developing a 50,000 sq ft demonstration facility at the Bluewater Energy Park in Sarnia, Ontario.

Surprising year for real estate2012-01-06

By Cathy Dobson, from    The Observer

The local real estate market was surprisingly strong in 2011 with near-record sales totals and an exceptional December that was the best in 10 years.

"December was possibly an all-time high in terms of dollar volume," Donna Mathewson, president of the Sarnia-Lambton Real Estate Board said Thursday.

Last month easily topped December 2010 when the infamous Snowmaggedon storm hit and local residents stopped thinking about housing sales.

"We surpassed December last year by $8 million in sales," Mathewson said. "You do need to keep it in perspective, though.

"There were 102 sales in December, which is 57% better than the 65 in December 2010. But, to be honest, weather played a part in December's numbers," she said.

"We had horrific snowstorms in December 2010 and virtually no snow in December 2011."

That meant house hunters stayed on the trail last month and weren't thinking as much about Christmas shopping as house shopping.

Year-end data released Thursday also show the dollar value of sales in 2011 was the second highest in a decade.

Total sales totaled $328,575,000, a figure surpassed only in 2007 when housing sales topped $349 million.

"2007 was a banner year. It was the peak of the bubble," Mathewson said. "It's going to be really hard to beat."

While 2011 stacked up well, the high dollar value was also skewed by the sale of eight houses each worth $900,000 or more.

"We sold two houses over $1 million in 2010 and six over $1 million in 2011," said Mathewson.

Last year saw 1,683 properties sold, a 3% increase over 2010. There was also a 5% increase in listings and a 9% increase in total sales volume.

"A 3% increase in sales is slight but it shows we've got good strength in our local economy," said Mathewson.

She said low interest rates and government rebate programs continued to attract buyers in 2011, despite an expectation early in the year that interest rates would rise.

"There was a lot of rumbling about interest rates and what was happening in the States. I think people wanted to take advantage of the situation before it changed, but it never did," she said.

It's likely interest rates will remain low throughout 2012 and continue to bolster real estate sales, Mathewson added.

"I think we'll see steady growth this year, nothing dramatic, but a healthy incline," she said.

Observer Article ID# 3426680

Hydro transmission upgrade inches ahead2012-01-06

By Cathy Dobson,  from   The Observer

A major upgrade to a 70-kilometre transmission line slicing through Lambton County bodes well for the local economy, community leaders say.

Hydro One plans to hold public consultations this month about adding capacity to the existing double-circuit 230-kilovolt transmission line stretching from the Lambton transformer station in St. Clair Township to the Longwood transformer station in Strathroy-Caradoc.

"This is very positive news," said Steve Arnold, Lambton's warden and mayor of St. Clair Township.

The more electricity local transmission lines can carry beyond Lambton County, the more energy projects can develop here, he said.

"We've been trying to get it on the forefront of government initiatives for a number of years."

Local officials have been pushing the province to significantly upgrade regional transmission lines so they can handle new power projects and accommodate the future of the Lambton Generating Station.

In 2010, Energy Minister Brad Duguid ordered Hydro One to make the transmission system west of London a priority. It's to be part of a $2-billion investment in the system across Ontario. But the project hasn't exactly moved ahead at an electrifying pace.

On Thursday Jan. 19, Hydro One will finally hold a public consultation at the Brigden Community Hall to outline its upgrade plan.

While capacity will improve, it's not clear how much more electricity the line will handle or what the cost of the upgrade will be, a Hydro One spokesman said.

Officials at the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) weren't any more forthcoming.

"These projects are intended to upgrade the province's transmission system to accommodate renewable projects, serve new load and support reliability," OPA spokesman Tim Butters wrote in an email.

"Planning studies are continuing so the number of additional (megawatts) is not yet known," he said.

While there are still many questions about the project, the president of the Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce is optimistic.

Garry McDonald spoke to ministry staff just before Christmas about it.

"We feel (additional transmission capacity) is a big factor in extending the life of Lambton Generating Station," said McDonald.

Duguid requested an upgrade to the Lambton line as well as a completely new line, he said.

"The upgrade is to be finished by 2014, which coincides with the time when coal is supposed to be offline.

"That, as well as the gas line going to LGS, means the ministry is preparing for an opportunity that could exist," said McDonald.

Local officials are urging the Liberal government to convert the coal-powered station to natural gas, saving hundreds of local jobs and increasing Ontario's power supply.

"This upgrade to the transmission line is important to the existing LGS operation, all the green energy proposals for our area, and it's important to future generation that could help the province," McDonald said.

"I'm hoping this will mean more reason to keep LGS open and attract other power generating projects," said Arnold. "If we end up with more energy creation locally, jobs will be created and that's positive for all of us."

Hydro One's public consultation is scheduled for Jan. 19 from 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. in the community hall at 3016 Brigden Road.

Observer Article ID# 3426695

Purdy Fishery nets national TV spot2012-01-03

By Barbara Simpson   The Observer

Purdy Fisheries have made the catch of the day.

The Point Edward-based business and its Lake Huron pickerel will be featured on an upcoming episode of the Food Network's Pitchin' In.

On the show, celebrity chef Lynn Crawford visits food producers across the country, learning the ropes of their operations and eventually preparing gourmet meals based on a single local ingredient.

Crawford spent four days at Purdy's in May. The former chef at the Four Seasons' New York City hotel wasn't given a free pass at the family-run operation. She shovelled ice, wrangled sturgeon and even worked in the processing plant.

Don't worry, there was some fun allowed.

"She ended up having a gut fight with one of our employees," recalled Stephanie Purdy, vice-president of Purdy Fisheries.

Crawford also tried to "wrangle our coleslaw recipe out of our chef," noted Purdy, who described the celebrity chef as a genuine and hard-working woman.

"So many people have asked me since the shoot, 'Well, what's she like?' because a lot of times their persona on TV isn't who they really are," she said. "She is 100% who she is on TV."

Crawford wrapped up her visit by preparing a meal around pickerel. She crafted a fiddlehead soup with a pickerel quenelle and asparagus slaw, a mushroom-crested pickerel with a sweet pea risotto, and a lemon tart with gingered rhubarb and white chocolate shavings.

"It was spectacular," Purdy said. "Absolutely spectacular."

Crawford also attended a family barbecue during her visit, Purdy noted.

"To look out my parents' front door and to see her standing on the boulevard — that was the house I grew up in — it was kind of bizarre," she said. "It was like there's Lynn Crawford standing on my parents' boulevard in Point Edward."

Purdy's grandfather W.J. Purdy founded the business in 1900, and the operation now includes several retail locations.

Purdy's Pitchin' In episode airs Jan. 16 at 11:30 p.m. Repeats of the episode will air throughout the week and the rest of the season. The show can also be viewed on the Food Network website.

"Yes, it's great for Purdy's, but I hope it's great for Sarnia-Lambton as well," Purdy said.

"I moved back to Sarnia nine years and one of my goals was to get Purdy's fish on the Food Network," she added.

"I didn't expect our whole business — us as a group — to get on there."

Observer Article ID# 3422329

Great year for Lambton College2012-01-02

Capped by record enrolment

By Tara Jeffrey   The Observer

The year 2011 was a booming year for Lambton College.

The Sarnia facility boasted record enrolment numbers, launched a hugely successful capital campaign, and added to its illustrious reputation as a top competitor for firefighting across Canada.

"We have a tremendous number of students coming from outside this area," spokesperson Cindy Buchanan told The Observer. "Lambton is offering programs that folks are looking for."

Buchanan said enrolment numbers jumped from 3,079 in 2010 to 3,225 this fall, pointing to popular programs like Preservice Firefighter, Chemical Production and Power Engineering Technology, Bachelor of Science and Nursing, Child and Youth Worker, Paramedic, Practical Nursing and Personal Support Worker.

New this year are the Law Clerk and Esthetician programs, along with Retail Pharmacy Assistant, Enterprise Database and Programming Management, and planned for 2012 are the Perioperative Nursing and Therapeutic Recreation Ontario Graduate Certificates, as well as diplomas for Hairstylist and Digital Photography.

Throughout the year, industry donations were piling in for the college's $5 million "Inspiring the Future Campaign," most notably, gifts from CF Industries ($100,000), Suncor Energy ($500,000), Cabot Canada Ltd. ($100,000)and RBC ($100,000).

Lambton also unveiled a new sate-of-the-art Sustainable Smart Home — a $1.2 million facility designed for academic and research opportunities, as well as expanding student and community education on green, sustainable energy options.

Students from the college's Firefighter Combat Team continued to thrive in competition, including a bronze medal at the FireFit National Championships in Alberta.

A sixth consecutive fire school championship win was nixed, however, after no other college teams showed up to compete in the division.

In August, Derek Buchanan and Ryan Kennedy took gold in the school's first entry into tandem relay competition at the Quebec Regional Scott Firefit competition in Ottawa.

The team had an "incredible" year, team coach Ron Sparling said, noting Lambton took on only two competitions in Ontario before going to nationals. Normally teams compete in four.

The Lambton program offers a one-year pre-service study, followed by a two-year, hands-on fire science and technology program, the only one of its kind in Canada

Meanwhile, college officials reported only minor disruptions after some 8,000 support staff across Ontario — including registrars, counsellors, librarians, administrators, IT staff and cleaners —walked off the job Sept. 1.

Two weeks later, a tentative agreement was reached between the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and the College Employer Council — representing Ontario's 24 colleges.

Finally, after 10 years on the job, college President and CEO Tony Hanlon announced this summer he will retire at the end of 2011.

Judith Morris will be the new president and CEO. 1.A nine-year veteran of Lambton College, Morris was vice-president of academic and student services at the college.

When Hanlon arrived a decade ago, the college had a full-time enrolment of 2,100 and a deficit of $2.5 million.

Hanlon pledged to "grow" the college and improve its financial position.

Today, The deficit has been eliminated and Lambton College has a $4.5 million surplus this year. Part of that can be attributed to a change in government policy that has provided an additional $4.2 million to Lambton every year since 2005.

Observer Article ID# 3422159

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