Case Study Region

Thunder Bay

Learn more about how CRIBE is working with the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission to build a robust forest bio-economy in Northwestern Ontario.

Thunder Bay is a forward growing Canadian city with superior natural resources and a world-class quality of life. Discover why talented people and businesses choose to live, work, do business and invest in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

This interactive report has been prepared by the Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bio-Economy.

The Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bio-Economy (CRIBE) is an Ontario based (Thunder Bay) independent non-profit formed in 2009 that supports innovation to commercialization activities for Ontario's forest bio-economy sector. CRIBE has a proven track record and ongoing commitments to working closely with the traditional forest products sector, emerging second generation forest products companies, new bio-chemical based technology providers and national and international research organizations to prioritize research and development needs in support of a strong and vibrant bio-products sector. For more information on CRIBE, please visit our website

Thunder bay - Forest product sector Overview

Poised for Investment

Thunder Bay sits in Northwestern Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior, surrounded by the boreal forest.  The boreal is a vast region of forests which stretches across most of northern Canada.  The contribution of forest products to the history and economy of Thunder Bay can be traced back hundreds of years. 

The forest industry in Thunder Bay and the surrounding region has historically been a significant employer in the area.  Newsprint and paper were produced here in major facilities. As global usage of newsprint and paper have declined, the industry has adapted and shifted to produce products, such as an increase in softwood lumber and high-quality pulp. Global, National and Provincial developments for a more circular economy will allow the forest sector to explore continued sustainable products.

Thunder Bay's forest products manufacturing facilities include businesses such as sawmils, veneer mills, structural board and lumber plants, producing construction materials and specialty wood products.

In addition to traditional forest products facilities, Thunder Bay is also home to a growing lignin research cluster.  Lignin, a side stream of wood product processing, has a wide variety of uses and applications, including opportunities to replace fossil fuel based chemicals and products.  

FP Innovations maintains several facilities embedded at the Resolute Pulp and Paper Mill, including the Bio-economy Technology Centre with analytical and modification capabilities, a Ligno Force™ demonstration plant, and the TMP-Bio Pilot plant.  Lakehead University runs the Biorefining Research Institute which has extraction and analytical capabilities. 

Regional economic development

Northwestern Ontario

CRIBE’s work with the bioenergy and bio-products sector around the world continues to show us that there is a growing interest in the development of next generation biofuels, bioproducts and technology with forest-based biomass feedstock emerging as viable solution. A report prepared for the Thunder Bay CEDC in 2020 offers additional analysis and opportunities available to industries which could make use of forest biomass in the region.

To learn more check out LINK

Forestry as the backbone

Right in Your Own Backyard

In Ontario, there are a wide variety of coniferous and deciduous trees that support a healthy forest-products industry. For the past 100 years, Ontario has supplied markets with an array of high-quality forest products from pulp and paper, to lumber and veneer. Visit the Ministry of Natural Resources - Ontario's Forest Industry website for more information.

The following dashboard provides a summary of available standing volumes of bio fibre (merchantable, un-merchantable and un-marketable wood by species) in the Province of Ontario Merchantable wood may include species that are "un-marketable" due to economic considerations and are included as a consideration for bio fibre feedstock. This dashboard uses data from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry's Available Wood Report.

Forest FIbre Quality

Biomass Characteristics & Applications

The various regional species have different physical and chemical characteristics that may be of interest to technology pathways.  CRIBE has summarized some characterization information for use at the following Link

Additional regional samples were collected in September of 2021 and are undergoing detailed characterization analysis. Check back for updates to this section as information becomes available.

Globally there are several deployment ready technologies available to produce products from low grade biomass residuals or other forestry feedstocks, including liquid/gaseous fuel and biochar products.

The strengths of the forestry cluster in the Thunder Bay region, which includes a diverse and stable wood products sector, available wood supply along with the infrastructure and demographics of the City of Thunder Bay, present a unique opportunity to support and accelerate the development of next generation bioeconomic products.

Where & How Much

Economic Fibre Supply Mapping

This Dashboard has been created to display wood fibre in the region, with a display of all Forest Management Plan Blocks with species information, total volumes, and an overview of delivered fibre costs in the region. These values are intended for pre-feasibility analysis and require further refinement for business planning purposes and actual fibre availability. Please select Thunder Bay from the drop-down menu in the upper righthand corner to start. The indicators of species composition and cost will alter based on the map's viewing extent. For more information on these tools, please visit the full toolset available on the ForestEDGE

* A tool displaying estimates of residual biomass from forestry operations can also be found by clicking the Residual Biomass Dashboard tab in the lower left corner of the application.

Why Thunder Bay

Economic Infrastructure & Demographic Indicators

In partnership with the Thunder Bay CEDC, we have identified some key social demographic, infrastructure, and regional indicators to help interested business proponents to better understand the physical ad social resources available in the region. Select Thunder Bay from the dropdown selector in the upper right-hand corner of the application to get started. The indicators are responsive to the map view extent and will display key information on regional infrastructure. A printable PDF copy of the infographic is available for download using the link provided in the tool.

Compatible Zoned Properties

A Closer Look

This map is a snapshot of the city's available infrastructure and corresponding vacant industrial property. A legend of zoning can also be used to identify the areas of best fit for your business. Contact the Thunder Bay CEDC for more information on developing in the City of Thunder Bay, or real estate inquiries. 

Thunder Bay is an economic hub in Northwestern Ontario; poised for investment, ready to develop and innovate! Do you have a market ready business in the bio-economic sector? This may be the spot…

A link to download a high-resolution version of this map can be found here.