Emily Plihal
Local Journalism
Initiative Reporter

Peace Region Economic Development Alliance (PREDA) is hosting a Value-Added Forestry conference as part of its annual general meeting lineup.

The event is set for June 26-27. PREDA chair Carolyn Kolebaba says it’s a great opportunity for PREDA members, municipalities, forestry businesses, and the public to learn and network.

“Anyone in the forestry industry, municipal leaders, and economic development professionals will all benefit from attending,” says Kolebaba.

“We have a great variety of speakers that range from forest medicinals, furniture making and other forest products, such as wood pellets,” she adds.

PREDA is organizing the conference as part of their annual meeting, and it will be held at the Chateau Nova in Peace River at 10010 74 Street. Total cost for the conference is $250 for the two-day event.

“PREDA is the vital link that brings municipalities together to develop strategies to address issues and opportunities common to us all,” explains Kolebaba.

“PREDA provides a venue for municipal leaders to meet, evaluate research, and create solutions that benefit all municipalities.”

Kolebaba says it was important to add forestry to this year’s lineup, as it is a primary economic driver for the northwest.

“A number of our municipalities benefit from the forestry industry,” she says.

“However, like almost all our commodities, we do not benefit from the value-added opportunities that exist. Value-added, whether that be forestry, agriculture or oil and gas, create more jobs, and secondary businesses right here in our backyard,” she adds.

The conference will begin Wednesday, June 26 at 3:30 p.m. and will run that evening until 8 p.m. The first day will provide a PREDA year-in-review, its annual general meeting, year-end financials, and other PREDA year-end information.

“The purpose of the conference is to spark interest in value-added forest products, but not necessarily large multinational corporations, but rather small and medium sized business that can grow in our own municipalities,” says Kolebaba regarding the second day of the event.

“When people think of forest products, they think of two-by-fours. They don’t think about hand crafted rocking chairs, wood pellets, mushroom harvesting, essential oils and all the other products that come out of our forests.”

Day two will run from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and will be kicked off with Kolebaba as master of ceremonies. Minister of Forestry and Parks Todd Loewen is attending.

The Center for Boreal Research will present best management practices and reclamation of the boreal forest and other overviews of the type of trees, flora, and fauna in the boreal forest. Other topics that will be addressed include timber rights, forestry jobs, wood pellets, essential oils, apothecary, and other items.

“Our hope is that people will walk away with a new respect and understanding of what our forests create and what opportunities exist in them,” she says.

“Ideally, we will ignite the flame in someone to pursue a value-added forestry initiate in their community.”

Kolebaba says after the conference PREDA will be drafting a paper to submit to Loewen.

To register for the event, please call (780) 624-3344.