Tolko High Prairie OSB plant welcomed a provincial government minister and local MLA on March 26. Left-right, are general manager Greg Johnston, Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous, Lesser Slave Lake MLA Danielle Larivee and plant manager Dean Lamberton.
South Peace News
Tolko Industries has been approved for a tax credit of more than $4 million to restart the High Prairie oriented strand board plant and modernize existing mills in Slave Lake and High Level.
Alberta Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous visited the local plant March 26 to see the benefits of the Capital Investment Tax Credit (CITC).
Tolko received conditional approval of a $4.03 million tax credit, says a government news release.
“With the opening of the High Prairie mill, Tolko will directly employ almost 800 people in three communities, with a direct economic impact of $118 million dollars in 2017, not including the High Prairie mill after it is in full production,” Tolko president and CEO Brad Thorlakson says.
“With the assistance of programs like the CITC, we can invest in northern Alberta with confidence and continue to be economic drivers for those communities.”
The tax credit helps Alberta companies take on new construction projects by returning up to 10 per cent of the costs of new machinery, equipment or buildings to a maximum of $5 million.
Businesses can claim their credit once the assets purchased are in use.
Initially opened in 1995, the High Prairie plant closed in 2008 when North American housing starts fell to a generational low and, resulting in a loss of markets for OSB.
“As a green, renewable, industry, we look forward to work with the government in its efforts to support diverse economic and employment opportunities in the communities where we operate,” Thorlakson says.
Tolko appreciates local governments of Big Lakes County, the Town of High Prairie, Indigenous communities and Lesser Slave Lake MLA Danielle Larivee for their support in the process.
“Alberta is a good place to do business,” says High Prairie plant general manager Greg Johnston, who notes that the local mill currently employs about 150 people.
Other provinces have had taxes like the CITC for decades, the minister says.
“We’re proud to have created a tax credit that helps businesses in Alberta create good jobs in a variety of sectors, diversify our economy and help protect us from the oil price roller-coaster,” Bilous says.
Other provinces have had taxes like the CITC for decades, he notes.
Lesser Slave Lake MLA Danielle Larivee says the forestry industry is vital to the region.
“I’m proud that our government is working with Tolko to support good jobs in Lesser Slave Lake, and I’m happy to see Tolko making major investments in High Prairie that will help get Albertans back to work,” Larivee says.
“Forestry is a vital part of rural and northern Alberta’s economy.
“That’s why I’ve been working with my colleagues in our government to bring more investment and support for our region.”
Support for Tolko underscores the commitment of the minster and MLA to forestry jobs, says Paul Whittaker, president and CEO of the Alberta Forest Products Association.
“These are good, high paying and stable jobs that really matter, particularly in smaller communities where forestry companies are important local employers.”
Bilous says northern Alberta’s forest products industry will see new jobs and expand business from the CITC.