Updated: Province closing Angus Seed Plant, seed customers upset
Technician John White at the Angus Tree Seed Facility in 2013, explaining the operation to AWARE Simcoe members
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‘Corner stone of tree planting’ to be shut down in 2018
Roger Klein CTV News Barrie August 28 2017
A major seed distribution plant in Angus is being shut down by the provincial government.
The Angus Seed Plant once provided all of the seeds used in reforestation efforts across the province. It currently operates at 20 per cent capacity.
But come next year, Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry plans to shut it down.
“We are going to be moving out of an industrial size plant to a native tree seed genetic archive,” says Ken Durst, regional services manager for the MNRF. “That’s going to be focused on biodiversity and climate change science.”
The tree seed plant has been in operation since 1923. Seeds are extracted, sorted, tested and stored in freezers.
The province is looking to the private sector to do this work in the future. But the nurseries that grow the trees say the seed plant is hard to replace.
“The equipment is specialized, the employees have a unique set of skills to do that in a 12 month time frame, which is what we are being told, is almost impossible,” says Dave Harbec, Somerville Nurseries.
Seed customers say they were not consulted before the decision was made to close the facility.
Forests Ontario says the seed plant is still the corner stone of tree planting efforts across southern Ontario and a new plan is needed ASAP.
“How we are going to get through this transition over the short term and how are we going to identify those capacity issues over the long term to make sure we don’t lose the capacity the tree plant has provided for so long?” says Rob Keen, CEO of Forests Ontario.
Ministry staff says the plant will only process seeds for existing clients this fall and will not collect any more seed for its own seed bank.
The seeds in cold storage will be used to stock the new genetic archive.
Tree seedling plant in Angus to close next year
Mayor shocked by decision
by Brad Pritchard Alliston Herald August 29 2017
The provincial government has announced its tree seedling plant in Angus will be shutting down next year.
The facility on King Street will be closed in September 2018, affecting six staff positions, according to Ministry of Natural Resources spokesperson Jolanta Kowalski.
She said the decision to close the plant was made earlier this summer due to a drop in demand.
“As Ontario’s forest renewal practices have evolved, processing demand at the plant has decreased significantly,” she wrote. “Moving forward, the ministry is focusing our efforts on a modern and efficient science-based native seed genetic archive, which will better support biodiversity and meet the needs of climate change science.”
Essa Mayor Terry Dowdall said the announcement came “out of the blue.”
“I don’t like to see this come to an end, but it was a higher tier of government that decided this was the route to go,” he said. “My heart goes out to all the employees, and hopefully they are offered something to help them through this difficult time.”
Kowalski didn’t say if staff will be offered other positions, just that workers are being given “time to transition.”
As for what will become of the site after the closure, she said the government will consider whether it has other needs for the property before making any final decisions.
The seedling plant has operated at the property since 1923. The most recent update happened in 2005 when the aging administration building was replaced.
Kowalski said the government doesn’t foresee a seedling shortage to be created as a result.
“The private sector in Ontario has been providing extraction, storage, and seedlings since approximately 1996,” she wrote. “This change is expected to open new opportunities for Ontario’s nursery industry, who will now have an opportunity to respond to market demand for native tree seeds from forest companies, the public and government.”
She said the plant’s main users include nurseries, Sustainable Forest Licencees and general sales, while other users include government programs and conservation authorities.
MNRF Announcement on Angus Tree Seed Plant website
Important Customer Notice
As of September 2018 all seed services offered to the general public through the Ontario Tree Seed Plant will be discontinued and the Plant will be closed.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry will be focusing on developing a Genetic Seed Archive to support Ontario’s science needs rather than providing commercial services.
Individuals currently utilizing storage at the Plant will be contacted to discuss transfer options. New long term storage will no longer be offered effective immediately.
Processing services with short term storage only (2 months) may still be offered until February 2018 when seed extraction services will be discontinued.
Seed sales will continue until August 2018.
From Financial Post, 2016