Ontario’s Maple Syrup Producers Plant Roots in Sault area

Left to right: Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes, Mayor Christian Provenzano, Sault College president Dr. Ron Common, OMSPA president Brian Bainborough and Sault College elder-in residence Ted Recollet. Photo by Megan Pounder/SaultOnline

The Ontario Maple Syrup Producers’ Association kicked off its’ annual three-day Summer Tour on Thursday morning with the ceremonial planting of a maple tree on the Sault College campus.

“Today’s was a ceremonial session to recognize the maple tree, that it’s going to extend on for many generations here, explained Brian Bainborough, President of the Ontario Maple Syrup Association. “So, every summer tour, we’ve started this process of donating a tree to the community that will say, ‘okay this is what we do and this is part of our heritage.’ So we’re lucky to do that.”

The OMSPA’s Summer Tour takes place at a different location in Ontario each summer. This year’s location is the Algoma area. This year’s tour will see around 200 maple syrup producers from across the province come together in Northern Ontario to discuss what’s new and tour some of the local sugar bushes.

“It’s getting together, it’s camaraderie, it’s rekindling old friendships, it’s sharing information with each other, like what’s new, what’s innovative, what new initiatives are in place, talk about issues that are very important for the industry, and to work towards growing the industry in Ontario, which is important to us,” said Ray Bonenberg, communications chair on the provincial board of directors for the OMSPA.

One of the features of this year’s meeting is the unveiling of a new, 80-page feasibility study, called Filling Ontario’s Needs: A Maple Syrup Bottling Facility Feasibility Study.

This study claims that Ontario’s maple syrup production would increase by 25-40 per cent if a bottling facility was developed in Northern Ontario. According to the study, the only thing  needed for that is access to Crown land in order to tap into more ‘liquid gold.’

“The MNRF analysis identified blocks of Crown land in Northern Ontario suitable for producing maple syrup. Areas were ranked according to established criteria including proximity to roads, terrain characteristics, planned harvest, and adjacency to private maple stands. Areas that received the highest overall ranking were Algoma, Nipissing, French-Severn and Bancroft-Minden. Therefore, these regions should be considered priority areas for increased production if Crown land were to be made more available to maple producers,” according to the study.

The general meeting is to take place at Quattro Hotel, and the summer tour of local sugar bushes will take producers north of the Sault on Friday, and to St. Joe’s Island on Saturday.