With 2018 nearing, I’d like to take the time to reflect on some key highlights from 2017 that were featured on our blog.
A number of blogs demonstrated our ongoing commitment to innovation. Canfor supplied the specialty lumber used for the Brock Commons student residence in Vancouver, which was the tallest mass timber building in the world when it opened in July. As well, Canfor Pulp received approval for up to $13.2 million from Sustainable Development Technology Canada to support our joint venture with Licella Fibre Fuels of Australia that will determine whether Licella’s technology can convert pulp biomass into a renewable biocrude.
We were recognized once again as one of BC's Top Employers for the fifth year in a row and we were also selected as one of Canada’s Best Employers for Recent Graduates 2018. With safety as our number one priority, we are proud that our operations in Urbana and El Dorado earned safety awards from the Arkansas Department of Labor.
In 2017, we donated funds to technical schools such as South Arkansas Community College in El Dorado, AR, and Horry Georgetown Technical College in Conway, SC, so they can expand their training facilities and meet our growing need for skilled workers. And we gave a Vollmer CHC20 top and face grinder to Thompson Rivers University in Williams Lake, BC, so students can learn to operate, repair and adjust this key piece of equipment used by our saw filers.
We supported possible future industry leaders by sponsoring their attendance at the Schweighofer student innovation workshop conference in Vienna, which supports global innovation in forestry. For younger students, we outfitted a mobile trades workshop so our Elementary Trades Program can go to schools in Prince George.
We took steps to promote diversity, such as sponsoring a Women in Industry program in Prince George and advancing opportunities for First Nations. The Prince George Nechako Aboriginal Employment and Training Association gave us a Leadership Excellence Award, and Brandon Collison, our planning supervisor and a Lheidli T’enneh member, received an Outstanding Achievement Award.
Sustainability is at the centre of everything we do. In 2017, we produced a two-minute video that offers a quick overview of The Sustainable Transformation of a Tree into a World of Opportunities. In April, we released our 2016 Canfor-Canfor Pulp sustainability report. It is our 16th sustainability report; the sixth to the Global Reporting Initiative guidelines for sustainability reporting and the fourth combined report with Canfor and Canfor Pulp. Other sustainability activities in 2017 included:
As well, we are proud that our 2015 Canfor and Canfor Pulp joint Sustainability Report was selected by the Finance Sustainability Initiative (FSI) as the Best Sustainability Report in the Renewable Resources & Alternative Energy category.
We are always looking for ways to give back to the great communities where we operate. In July, we cancelled our annual summer pancake breakfast in Prince George so we could redirect the meal to people who had been evacuated from their homes as a result of wildfires in B.C.’s interior and were staying at the College of New Caledonia.
In May, the Canfor team was one of the top fund raiser at the 25th annual Prince George Relay for Life. We maintained our long-term commitment to the BC Children's Hospital Foundation, and contributed to the United Way and dry grad celebrations in our operating communities. When the 2017 Telus Cup, Canada’s national midget ice hockey championship, came to Prince George in April, we were honoured to be a community partner.
We donated $50,000 of lumber each to two important institutions in Vancouver -- the Pacific Autism Family Network’s Centre of Excellence, which provides much-needed support to families across B.C., and the new state-of-the-art campus of the Emily Carr University of Art + Design.
This year, we also announced some major capital investments to support our growth in the US South including $8.8 million at the Urbana mill in Arkansas and $28 million at the Moultrie sawmillin Georgia. Both will increase production capacity and operating efficiencies – and lead to new jobs.
It has been a busy and productive year, and I look forward to the opportunities before us in 2018. I also welcome any comments you may have.