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Proposal in works for eco-industrial park

BY KEITH LACEY [email protected] A Sudbury developer has plans to build a large eco-industrial park on The Kingsway near the Greater Sudbury landfill site.

A Sudbury developer has plans to build a large eco-industrial park on The Kingsway near the Greater Sudbury landfill site.

Kingsway Eco-Industrial Park
A much-discussed biodiesel plant, the first of its kind to be built in Canada, would constitute Phase 1 of the huge development.

Ottawa?s Topia Energy Inc. would build and operate the $4 million plant, which would use Northern Ontario feedstocks like canola seed and soybeans to create environmentally friendly fuels.

Northern Life has confirmed local land owner Gil Rinaldi is working hard behind the scenes to attract private investors to have the biodiesel plant as the focal point for an eco-industrial park.

The Kingsway Eco-Industrial Park is a proposed 112-acre site located next to the Sudbury landfill off The Kingsway. The proposed plant would produce 20-million litres of biodiesel annually and would employ 25 people as well as generate 200 regional farming jobs.

Rinaldi?s plans are far enough advanced he has hired local architectural firm Castellan James and Partners to develop a concept site plan for the eco-industrial park.

If the project develops as Rinaldi envisions, it would also involve a bio-gas plant, truck stop/service station, walking paths, trails and wetlands and an integrated 30-acre food production facility, which would include building three huge greenhouses.

?This would be a showcase for the north if not for the whole province,? said Rinaldi.

Nickel Belt MPP Ray Bonin was hoping to make an official funding announcement about the biodiesel plant by the middle of February.

However, he told Northern Life Tuesday his plans have been delayed as the federal government hasn?t finalized legislation relating to building and operating biodiesel plants.

?What happened was when I was first elected, the feds made a strong movement towards supporting ethanol plants...a lot of errors were made,? said Bonin. ?They?ve straightened out most of those problems, but the problem is there?s no official policy on biodiesel...and this would be the first plant built in Canada.

?But I do have a commitment from the Prime Minister?s Office that the rules that apply to ethanol plants would be adopted for biodiesel. I hope to have that final commitment by our next caucus meeting on Jan. 26.?

Instead of a funding announcement by the middle of February, it likely won?t come until the end of April, said Bonin. It?s expected the biodiesel plant will be operational in 120 days after the federal government approves funding.

?I?m telling you it?s going to happen...this is just a minor setback,? he said. ?I?ve made it clear to local farmers I?ve been working with who want to switch (to farming food products needed by the biodiesel plant) that I?m not willing to lose the 2005 growing season.?

Biodiesel is derived from oil seed crops and can be burned in any diesel engine without modification.

Currently, U.S. producers supply the biodiesel consumed by Canadians, as in the case of the Toronto Transit Commission and Ottawa Transit which
use biodiesel to fuel their vehicles.

Bonin says it?s been hard slogging to get the federal funding and policy approvals needed for the biodiesel plant to become a reality, but all the work will result in very good news very soon.

?We had some problems in getting this project going because the policy framework for alternative green fuels, including production incentives, left out biodiesel a few years ago,? said the veteran politician. ?Biodiesel was too new, so getting the bureaucrats to change their policies afterwards was not easy.?

Bonin has worked long hours since last April trying to make this project a reality.

City politicians, including former mayor Jim Gordon, and staff have also been involved in trying to make the biodiesel plant a reality, said Govindh Jayaraman, president of Topia Energy.

?If we had this plant operating two years ago we would have cornered one quarter of North American markets from right here in Sudbury,? he said.

Despite having the private financing ready to go with the federal government as a partner, his hands were tied by the lack of federal agreements, said Jayaraman.

?I can?t put a shovel in the ground without federal approval.?

The big breakthrough to bring the project forward has come directly from Prime Minister Paul Martin, said Bonin.

Martin talked to him in caucus several weeks ago and asked, ?why hasn?t this project got started? and then agreed to steer it from within the powerful Prime Minister?s Office, said Bonin.

The other stumbling block was liberating the $1.8 million from the budget of John Efford, Minister of Natural Resources Canada. Efford had been unsympathetic to people who believe in biodiesel until the Prime Minister changed his mind, said Bonin.

?That?s now not a problem thanks to Paul Martin. He took care of that for us so with the new policy guidelines, including biodiesel, in with other green fuels like all systems go,? said Bonin.

Greater Sudbury Mayor David Courtemanche said he has talked to Bonin about the impending funding and believes the biodiesel plant provides a great opportunity for this city environmentally and economically.

- Files from Bill Bradley


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