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2015 News

Local Festivals get provincial funding boost2015-04-13
Tyler Kula, The Sarnia Observer- April 13, 201

A pair of signature summer attractions in Sarnia-Lambton have been gifted provincial grant money to help boost local tourism.

The Sarnia/Port Huron International Powerboat Festival and the Victoria Playhouse Petrolia's 2015 Summer Season were among more than 270 Ontario festivals and events recently earmarked for shares in $19 million in Celebrate Ontario funding via the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.

The powerboat festival's cut is $45,000, while the VPP is getting $101,000.

“We're very happy to get this small piece of the large funds that are out there,” said powerboat festival co-organizer Michele Stokley.

Last year the August weekend event featured Offshore Racing Association drivers on the St. Clair River, world-class buskers entertaining in Sarnia's downtown core, ticketed concerts, boat parades, driver meet-and-greets, and plenty of other attractions — drawing in about 35,000 people, Stokley said.

Heading into its fifth year, plans are to amp up the entertainment, boost advertising to draw even more spectators, and bring in more 100 mph-plus, 50-foot, super class powerboats.

“We will be working hard to do what we're supposed to do with this grant and that is to increase tourism,” said Stokley.

She recently pegged the economic impact from last year's festival at $2.8 million, noting plans for the future are to target larger bands, longer races and enhance entertainment.

Outside of ticketed concerts, the event is free and uses proceeds to support local charities, which last year received more than $100,000, Stokely said.

Concert announcements for this year's Aug. 7 to 9 festival are expected later this month, she said.

Last year, performers included The Trews, Wide Mouth Mason, I Mother Earth and Big Sugar.

More details are available at sarniapowerboats.com.







Technology partnership bolsters BioAmber2015-04-07
Tyler Kula, The Sarnia Observer- April 7, 2015

BioAmber has inked a deal with a British-based chemical process technology company, something officials say makes it quicker, cheaper, and less risky to build BioAmber's next chemical production plant — one that could still end up in Sarnia.

BioAmber, currently completing construction and commissioning at its first 30,000-tonne-capacity bio-succinic acid plant in Sarnia, announced this week a licence with Johnson Matthey Davy (JM Davy) Technologies to use their catalyst technology to produce next-step building-block chemicals butanediol (BDO) and tetrahydrofuran (THF) at BioAmber's next, estimated-$500-million, plant.

A location for that plant at one of three short-listed sites in North America is expected to be announced later this year and Sarnia is in the running, said BioAmber VP Mike Hartmann.

If all goes smoothly, the plant, with the capacity to produce 30,000 tonnes of THF, and 70,000 tonnes of BDO, as well as bio-succinic acid, could be operating by 2018, he said.

All the chemicals that plant would produce are used in the making of plastics for cars and electronics, as well as biodegradable plastics and spandex, but BioAmber's process relies on corn sugar instead of the traditional petroleum-based feedstock, a company statement said.

That means a greener alternative, while still being cost-effective and providing the same end-product, Hartmann said.

The JM Davy partnership means BioAmber doesn't need to spend millions and months piloting its BDO and THF-making processes, since JM Davy's “best-in-class” catalyst technology is already used at plants around the world, he said.

“This is really a win-win for us.”

That partnership also means JM Davy can offer BioAmber-made bio-succinic acid to its customers instead of the petrochemical maleic anhydride, currently used at other plants where its catalyst technology is employed, a company statement said. The petrochemical is derived from benzene or n-butane.

As part of the deal, which includes up-front and royalty costs, Hartmann said BioAmber also has licence to use JM Davy technology at another two plants in the future.

Details for a third plant that would produce bio-succinic acid haven't been announced publicly yet, but three-quarters of that plant's anticipated production has already been locked up in a contract, Hartmann said.

“Giving any more detail at this time around that is a little premature, but it does tell you the demand from the market,” he said.

The JM Davy licence has no impact on BioAmber's $125-million (US) plant nearing completion in Sarnia, he said.

Commercial operation there is expected to begin this fall.



Industrial Education Co-Operative touts safety partnership in Sarnia2015-03-30
Tyler Kula, The observer- March 30, 2015

A collaborative approach to Chemical Valley safety in skilled trades work has Sarnia-Lambton head and shoulders above the rest of the province, the manager of a safety training cooperative says.

“We do it differently here and we're very successful at what we do,” said Rob Taylor, general manager of the Industrial Educational Co-Operative.

The 1993-formed training association for Chemical Valley construction and trades workers shores up the acumen of about 12,000 trainees each year, officials said, and was recently first in line for approval to implement a new provincially mandated working at heights safety program.

Other training courses offered through the IEC include confined space entry, fork lift operation, hazard identification and others.

Funded via company membership fees and training course fees, the not-for-profit, 18-employee cooperative was crowing recently about its safety partnership — with the Sarnia Construction Association and local plants — as the main driver behind its speedy approval for program administration under the new provincial working at heights standard.

The new program takes effect April 1 and requires certification within a two-year grace period, depending on when workers' individual safety certifications expire, Taylor said.

Sarnia's standard-specific program earned approval on March 3.

“We were able to pull together and be very quick at turning out the new working at heights program the ministry developed,” Taylor said.

Tailoring the program was a sizeable task, but Sarnia already had a leg up because locally workers have been required to work in harnesses at six feet up since 2010, Taylor said.

The current act requires harnesses at 10 feet up, he said.

“We didn't have to go out and look for best practices or anything like that, we already had those things in place,” he said.

Meanwhile, the partnership has led to some impressive safety statistics in Sarnia, he said.

“We like to say we're about 10 times better than the rest of the province.”

The most recent data has the recordable injury rate in Ontario at four per 200,000 work hours, Taylor said. In Sarnia-Lambton, it's 0.6.

“The safety record is a direct result of the partnership I believe,” he said.

More information about the IEC is available at iecpartnership.com.


Grand Bend Beach Ranked Third In Canada2015-03-19
Lee Michaels, Blackburn News - March 19, 2015
 
 
The mayor of Lambton Shores is pleased but not surprised that Grand Bend Beach has been named by Reader’s Digest as the third best in Canada.
 
Bill Weber says, as far as he’s concerned, it’s the best in the country.
 
He says it’s taken a lot of work obtaining Blue Flag Status and installing amenities like a splash pad.
 
He says more improvements are on the way.
 
The bandshell project north of the beach house is being spearheaded by the Grand Bend Rotary Club.
 
Reader’s Digest ranked Grand Bend Beach third behind Manitoba’s Grand Beach on Lake Winnipeg and the top rated Long Beach on Vancouver Island.
 
One other Ontario beach made the list. Wasaga Beach is eighth.


Murray McLaughlin named to bio-economy Top 125 list2015-03-18
Paul Morden, The Sarnia Observer- March 18, 2015


One of the leaders of efforts to grow Canada and Sarnia-Lambton's, bio-industry presence has earned recognition from those working in the sector.

Murray McLaughlin, executive director of Sarnia-based Bioindustrial Innovation Canada, is listed in the Top 125 People in the Advance Bioeconomy, complied by the readers and editorial board of Biofuels Digest.

Also on the list are the U.S. agriculture and energy secretaries, as well as scientists, policy makers and several bio-industry CEOs, including Jean-Francois Huc of BioAmber, a Montreal-based company starting up a bio-succinic acid plant in Sarnia.

"Murray has been instrumental since day one in creating the cluster we've been trying to create here with BioAmber, with the research park, and has just been an excellent person to work with," said Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley.

Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC), based at the Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park in Sarnia, is working to see Ontario and Canada become a leader in turning farm and forestry byproducts into energy and chemicals.

Sarnia-Lambton officials have been working for several years to position the community as a leader in the bio-economy and the decision by BioAmber to locate in Chemical Valley was an early success.

Bradley said officials have been working to create the idea that "this is the place" to be in the growing bio-industry sector.

Having McLaughlin, and Huc, make the list "is sort of like having a couple of hall of famers from the bio-hall of fame in your community," Bradley added.

"The word is out there."

Bradley added that it's often overlooked that the Biodustrial Innovation Centre is a national organization located in Sarnia "for the very purpose of developing the bio-fuel industry.

Huc was listed 44th, and McLaughlin 98th, on the list complied recently by Biofuels Digest.

"It's kind of nice to have the recognition," McLaughlin said.

The list is circulated around the North American

bio-industry where it gets the attention of those working in the sector, he said.

"Seeing people from Sarnia on there certainly doesn't hurt us at all."

Alexander Marshall, chairperson of the BIC board, said in a press release, "This award recognizes Murray's outstanding contribution to global collaboration and growth of Canada's bioeconomy."

Murray is a New Brunswick native who earned a Ph.D. at Cornell University and went to work in London in the mid-1970s at the agricultural division of Eli Lilly Canada.

He went on to hold posts in Ontario and Saskatchewan, where he served as that province's deputy ministry of agriculture and the first president of Ag-West Biotech, an organization that built a cluster around agriculture and bio-technology in Saskatoon.

McLaughlin returned to Ontario in the late 1990s and later settled on a farm near Tillsonburg when Sarnia-Lambton officials came calling a half dozen years ago when they were looking for someone to lead an effort to create a cluster of green and sustainable bio-chemistry companies.

In 2014, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada announced $7 million in funding assistance to support BIC's BioProducts Agriculture Science Cluster program to generate new business opportunities and build bio-product clusters.

BioAmber received early funding support through BIC's investment program.

McLaughlin attended the 2015 Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference last week in Washington where those on the top 125 list were recognized.

"We certainly are looking for the next BioAmber," McLaughlin said about BIC's current efforts.

"At the conference last week there was probably a good three or four companies that are starting to have interest in Sarnia, as a possible location."

McLaughlin said it's "early days" in those discussions, but added, "Hopefully, we'll at least be able to land one of them over next 12 or 18 months."

The group is also focused on developing a proposal to bring a mill to to Sarnia-Lambton that would convert corn stalks, or stover, to sugar, McLaughlin said.

"Sugar is the feedstock for a lot of these companies that want to make bio-based chemicals, so if you've got the ability to produce sugar it's one more reason why people should be looking at the Sarnia-Lambton region."



Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park Nearly Full2015-03-14
The Sarnia Observer- Friday, March 13, 2015

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley has been re-elected chairperson of the community development corporation running the Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park.
 
Lambton College president Judith Morris was elected vice-chairperson at Thursday's meeting of board of directors for the community development corporation formed by Lambton County more than a decade ago when it purchased the former Dow research and office building located next to Modeland Road in Sarnia.
 
At the meeting, board members heard from executive director Tom Striffler that occupancy at the research park currently exceeds 97%.
 
"That's a great place to be," Bradley said.
 
The research park, made up of 29,000 square metres of space in five connected building, went through some tough years after it lost NCO as a tenant after its call centre closed in 2012.
 
Occupancy dropped to 40% but the research park was able to attract new tenants, including another call centre, and restructured it $21-million debt.
 
Bradley said that unlike the first 10 years when the individual administering the facility was in London and looking after several facilities, the research park now has its own executive director.
 
"That has made a huge difference, having our manager right here in the community," Bradley said.
 
While the corporation still has debt, it's paying its own way, he added.
 
"The London park took 25 years before it was solvent, so in research park years we're doing very well."
 
Bradley said the corporation will be putting out a call in the coming months to fill two vacancies for community seats on the board.
 
The board is also working to engage the community more about what the research park is doing.
 
"I think for many people in the community the research park's a mystery," Bradley said.
 
As well as renting office space to several organizations and business, the facility offers research space and a pilot plant facility being used by several bio-industry companies working to develop technologies, with the aim of attracting new jobs to Sarnia-Lambton.
 
"It's our long-term future," Bradley said.
 
The research park will be hosting members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce in May, as well as the 10th annual Capstone Engineering and Design Competition on March 20.
 
More than 60 students from Western University's Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering are expected to showcase their design projects to a panel of judges during the competition.
 
"Capstone has a profound impact on the futures of students and industry," said Katherine Albion, director of The Bowman Centre, located at the research park.
 
"The knowledge shared at these events goes a long way into shaping the careers of students and prospects for industry."
 
The presentations are scheduled to begin at 8:45 a.m., with the awards announced at 2 p.m.
 
The research park is also working with Lambton College to present a Water symposium March 26 at the Lambton College Residence and Event Centre.
 
 


Sarnia-Lambton on Short List for Next BioAmber Plant2015-03-13
Paul Morden, Sarnia Observer- Friday, March 13, 2015
 
As construction nears completion on its $125-million (U.S.) bio-succinic acid plant in Sarnia, Montreal-based BioAmber said the community is on the short list of sites for its next project.
 
The industrial biotechnology company plans to manufacture butanediol and succinic acid at facility BioAmber has said is expected to cost $400 million to build.
 
"We're down to a short list of three sites for our second plant," chief executive officer Jean-Francois Huc said during a conference call to report BioAmber's 2014 financial results.
 
That includes two U.S. sites and one Canadian location.
 
"We've had a very positive experience with Sarnia," said Mike Hartmann, BioAmber's executive vice-president.
 
"It's definitely one of the three areas where we're looking to build."
 
Construction began in late 2013 on the Sarnia plant where BioAmber will use corn sugar to manufacture succinic acid, a platform chemical used in making plastic, cosmetics and other products.
 
After construction began on an 11-acre site at the Lanxess Bio-Industrial Park on Vidal Street in Sarnia, the company announced it was already making plans for a second plant.
 
The company's goals for this year include selecting a site and securing financing and government support for the next project, Huc said.
 
"We are actively engaged with government agencies around those sites, both Canadian and U.S."
 
BioAmber reached an important milestone last week when it began commissioning the Sarnia plant where construction of the processing building is expected to finish in eight weeks, Huc said.
 
"We've been able to do this without incurring a single lost-time injury in over 420,000 hours work," added said.
 
"We've also been able to stay within our original budget estimate."
 
The Sarnia project did face higher than expected costs for piping and scaffolding, but the impact was offset by a drop in the Canadian dollar during construction, Huc said.
 
The lower Canadian dollar has also helped the plant's fixed costs, improving the Sarnia site's cost competitiveness.
 
Huc said BioAmber has 56 employees working in Sarnia, and all of the plant's operators, engineers, maintenance and supply chain staff have been hired and trained.
 
"We're over 90% fully staffed on Sarnia, right now," Hartmann said.
 
The available pool of qualified and experienced workers was one of the "positives" for locating the plant in Sarnia, he said.
 
"It actually is more positive than we originally thought. The quality of the talent was exceptional."
 
The Sarnia facility has been connected to supplies of steam and electricity needed to begin operating, Huc said.
 
"We have also signed long-term supply agreements that guarantee us the sugar, power and steam we need to operate the plant at full capacity."
 
Huc added those costs are linked to prices for corn and natural gas, and both "have fallen significantly over the past 18 months, improving our cost structure in Sarnia."
 
Commissioning the Sarnia plant is expected to stretch over five months with commercial operation expected by the third quarter of this year, he said.
 
"We've decided to get the plant up and running at 50% operating rate as quickly as possible, but then to leave it at that 50% rate for a period of time in order to really optimize the performance," Huc said.
 
Plans are for the plant to remain at 50% of its 30,000-tonne capacity until the end of the year, and then increase production in 2016 with the aim of reaching full capacity in 2017, he said.
 


BioAmber begins commissioning plant2015-03-03
MINNEAPOLIS, MN, March 3, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - BioAmber Inc. (NYSE: BIOA), an industrial biotechnology company producing sustainable chemicals, today announced it has initiated commissioning activities for its 30,000 MT capacity bio-succinic acid plant located in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.

Commissioning and start-up is expected to take approximately five months, with the facility being in commercial operation in Q3 2015. The Company expects construction to be completed in two months and it is carrying out commissioning and start-up activities in parallel. The cost of the project continues to track within the original budget estimate of US$125 million +/- 10%.

"This is a significant milestone for BioAmber, which is poised to begin a period of rapid growth," said Jean-Francois Huc, Chief Executive Officer. "During the commissioning phase we will test the plant and get it running section by section, produce bio-succinic acid and qualify it with our customers and begin to sell product that meets specifications. We plan to be in full commercial operation in Q3 2015, by which time we can reliably supply customers including our take-or-pay contracts".

The Sarnia plant will be the world's largest succinic acid manufacturing facility, with an annual nameplate capacity of 30,000 metric tons. BioAmber has signed take-or-pay agreements with Vinmar and PTTMCC (a joint venture between PTT PLC and Mitsubishi Chemical) that represent sales volumes of over 5,000 metric tons in 2015 and 15,000 tons in each of 2016 and 2017. BioAmber has also signed a number of supply agreements with non-binding volume commitments that collectively exceed the available capacity in the plant.

A further update on the commissioning and start up plan will be provided during the Company's upcoming earnings call scheduled March 12th, 2015 at 16:30 ET.

About BioAmber
BioAmber (NYSE: BIOA) is an industrial biotechnology company producing sustainable chemicals. Its proprietary technology platform combines industrial biotechnology and chemical catalysis to convert renewable feedstock into sustainable chemicals for use in a wide variety of everyday products including plastics, resins, food additives and personal care products. For more information visit www.bio-amber.com

Forward-Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements, including statements related to the projected capital costs, scheduled completion and beginning of commercial operations of the Sarnia facility, as well as to the manufacture of products at our Sarnia facility and future sales. All statements other than statements of historical fact in this press release are forward-looking statements. These statements often include words such as "believe," "expect," "anticipate," "intend," "plan," "estimate," "seek," "will," "may" or similar expressions. Forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, many of which involve factors or circumstances that are beyond BioAmber's control. BioAmber's actual results could differ materially from those stated or implied in forward-looking statements due to a number of factors. Although the Company believes that the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, it cannot guarantee that the events and circumstances reflected in the forward-looking statements will be achieved or occur and the timing of events and circumstances and actual results could differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements. Accordingly, you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. All such statements speak only as of the date made, and the Company undertakes no obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. For additional disclosure regarding these and other risks faced by BioAmber, see disclosures contained in BioAmber's public filings with the SEC including, the "Risk Factors" section of BioAmber's most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the Quarter ended September 30, 2014.

SOURCE BioAmber Inc.


Grand Bend sewage project recognized2015-02-28
Paul Morden, The Sarnia Observer- February 28, 2015
 
The design for a $16.6-million upgrading project underway at the Grand Bend sewage treatment plant is receiving international attention.
 
The Washington-based Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) has announced the project earned its Envision rating system's platinum award. It's the first Canadian project, and first waste water facility in North America, to be verified using the assessment system that is a collaboration between the institute and the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University.
 
"I think it's fantastic," said Lambton Shores Mayor Bill Weber.
 
"It shows our commitment to keeping the Great Lakes clean and do it sustainably."
 
The joint upgrading project is being carried out by Lambton Shores and neighbouring municipality South Huron, with help from the Build Canada fund.
 
"We're hoping it will be operational by the end of the year," Weber said.
 
The municipalities hired the design firm Stantec to concert one of four existing lagoons at the waste water treatment facility into an extended aeration mechanical treatment facility and wetland nature reserve.
 
It will prevent discharges from adversely impacting surface and groundwater quality, while allowing community development.
 
Stantec used the ISI Envision framework during the design to integrate sustainable features through the facility.
 
A constructed wetland to support native wildlife species, and further buffer-treat effluent, is one of its key features.
 
There is also a flexible design that makes the facility responsive to changing sewage flows, as well as reduced construction and operating costs.
 
Trails and interpretive signs will be part of the wetland project, to encourage visitors, including school groups, and the site is intended to restore habitat critical to threatened native species, including the Monarch bufferfly, snapping turtle and bobolink.
 
"It's clean water coming out of there and it's being filtered through a wetland to give it that little polish before it goes back to the lakes," Weber said.
 
Tall grass prairie will also be restored on the site, and the project team is negotiating an agreement with a local university to allow graduate students to conduct long-term academic studies on waste water quality.
 
The project is designed to address projected changes in population and service area growth in the communities, as well as increases in the frequency and severity of extreme rainfall in southern Ontario.
 
"Stantec is very proud of this first-ever ISI Envision verified project in Canada," said company project manager Elvio Zaghi.
 
"The Grand Bend Area WWTF (waste water treatment facility) will protect the shoreline waters of Lake Huron, the area's most important natural and recreational asset."
 
Other key features of the facility include odour control measures, and a flexible design for the facility so that it can be reconfigured and expanded to meet new demands.
 
The Envision system measures the sustainability of infrastructure projects through the measurement of categories that include quality of life, leadership, natural world, resource allocation, and climate and risk.
 
The Stantec project team and the municipalities "made significant public commitments to the principles of sustainability," institute president William Bertera said in a press release.
 
"They involved the community on key project issues and concerns, and made design choices to reduce negative impacts."


Lambton County couple receives provincial environmental honour2015-02-27
From Paul Morden, The Sarnia Observer- February 27, 2015
 
What some call environmentalism, Chad Anderson says is just farming.
 
Anderson and his wife, Debbie Anderson, have received the Beef Farmers of Ontario's 2015 Environmental Stewardship Award for the work they've done on their St. Clair Township farm.
 
Some 200 acres of the couple's 350-acre Mooregrove Farms are in permanent hay and pasture for cattle.
 
The award, given during the Beef Farmers of Ontario general meeting this month in Toronto, notes the Andersons have increased permanent pasture acres, established a wetland, installed structures and fencing to prevent surface water contamination, have added grassed buffer strips along crop land, and have planted trees as windbreaks.
 
"We're just farmers," Anderson said.
 
"I wouldn't say we're environmentalists, by any stretch."
 
And, he added, he doesn't figure they're any more environmentally active than others who farm and nurture the land for the generations that follows.
 
"In our case we're the fifth," he said.
 
"We're on the original Anderson homestead settled in 1856."
 
"So, there's a lot of work before us and we want to make sure it's there for the next generation.
 
"But, that's just farming."
 
Anderson traces the work that led to the award to a move he and his wife made a decade ago to expand their cow herd.
 
"That led to more seeding down of pasture, planting more grassland, putting up fences, and we planted a bunch of trees," he said.
 
"A couple of years ago we seeded down a new farm and there was a wet area there that wasn't really suitable for grazing cattle.
 
"I was worried about the young calves getting sick and stuck in the mud."
 
Someone with the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority referred the Andersons to Ducks Unlimited, a group that works to promote and preserve wetlands.
 
That led to the building of a three-quarter-acre wetland, or as Anderson refers to it, a "duck pond," on the farm. Completed in 2013, it spent the last year charging with water.
 
"It's good and full," Anderson said.
 
He added he has been told that once ducks begin using the pond, it will naturally stock itself with fish.
 
"Which will be kind of cool, but I don't like fishing," he added.
 
"I don't have time for fishing."
 
Anderson said he believes it was the pond that caught the attention of their neighbour, Ralph Eyre, president of the Lambton Cattlemen's Association. That group nominated the Andersons for the provincial award.
 
Grasslands, like the ones that have developed on the Anderson farm, do a lot for the land, including filtering water, reducing erosion and sequestering carbon.
 
But, they can also help make life on the farm a little more pleasant.
 
"The biggest thing I notice, when I'm out with the cows, is all the birds in the summer," Anderson said.
 
"I get kind of a kick out of it."
 
Along with Mooregrove Farms, he runs a crop consulting business that takes him to farms around the area.
 
"I'm walking fields all the time, spring through fall, and you don't see the birds in a corn or soybean field like you do in a grassland area," he said.
 
Changing times have left fewer places for birds to live, as land is lost to urban sprawl and larger fields in today's farm have left fewer fence rows of trees and grass.
 
"When I was a kid growing up, the farm was a whole bunch of a small fields and now they're all one big field," Anderson said.
 
"We don't have the fence rows we used to have."
 
The Andersons attended the annual meeting to receive the award where they spoke about the work they've done on the farm.
 
In August, the couple will be able to travel to Manitoba with other provincial winners for a national competition.
 
"That will be cool," Anderson said. "It's always nice to get off the farm."
 
And, he said they plan to carry on nurturing their farm, including looking at different ways of managing manure.
 
"We're going to try and spread less manure on the pasture land, because the cattle are already doing that for us in the summer," he said.
 
"We're going to try and get more out of the resource, and use it in our row crop farms."
 
Cattle are the farm's mainstay, but it also grows grain and oil seeds, and Anderson keeps about 40 hives of bees.
 
"Part of the reason for the duck pond was a water source for the bees," he said.
 
 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bailey said Pupatello responded quickly to the concerns.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bailey said Pupatello responded quickly to the concerns.

"Things are moving," he added.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Background on SLIA:

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

- ## -

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


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

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


Using corn stover, wheat stalks to create bio-based chemicals, biofuels2015-02-10

From www.theobserver.ca The Observer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"We're seeing good, solid growth."

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

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

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

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

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

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





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"All facilities grow older and ours are no different.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"No other college is doing that."

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

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

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

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







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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

By Melanie Irwin, from blackburnnews.com   Blackburn News

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

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

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

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

Morris anticipates an answer this March or April.

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is also a ship at Mission Park.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT THEY SAID:

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

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

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

– Jim Houston, president of Rail Advocacy in Lambton

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

– Terry Johnson, president of Southwestern Ontario Transportation Alliance


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

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

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

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

"It's pretty big for us."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"It has been nuts," Barnes said.

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

"It's beyond expectations," Barnes said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poore opted not to reveal what the property sold for.

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

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

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

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

The deal formally closed Dec. 30, Poore said.

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

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

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

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

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


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