An offhand remark about the shortage of wood pellets has translated into a new enterprise for the Haley Street Adult Services Centre.

“With all the press around the shortage of wood pellets, somebody said well why don’t we make wood pellets,” explained society executive director Debra MacLean. “Our wood production officer Randall Finnigan came into the office. We discussed the idea and within a half hour I was on the phone with (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency) and within a week we had proposals in for funding support.”

The society is expanding its portfolio of social enterprises ahead of the 2015 home-heating season through ACOA’s innovative communities fund, which is providing a $37,323 contribution to help purchase equipment to establish a home-heating pellet manufacturing facility.

The funding announcement was made on Monday by Rob Moore, the minister of state for ACOA.

The Resource Recovery Fund Board Nova Scotia also contributed $12,580 to the project.

The equipment to be acquired through this project includes a mill, chipper, grinder, collection drum and bagging system, which will allow the society to begin manufacturing pellets.

MacLean expects everything to be in place and operational within three months.

“We feel we are on the front edge of recycling technology, it’s really exciting for us that we’ve been approved.”

The pellets will be sold at the society’s main facility on Haley Street, North Sydney, at Nora’s New to You thrift store on Main Street, Sydney Mines, and several other local retailers.

“Once we have everything up and running, we anticipate that we will be able to hire a couple of our participants at minimum wage to work in the production of the pellets — it’s a win/win for us. It gives us an opportunity to create revenue the centre needs, and also gives us the opportunity to provide employment for our participants.”

MacLean said this fits within with the mandate of the centre, which is to provide support for participants to be involved in all aspects of the community.

“This includes employment, that is incredibly important to us.”

The business venture is expected to create one full-time position and provide part-time employment for an additional four program participants.

Haley Street Adult Services Centre is a vocational training facility for adults with disabilities. The centre started in the late 1960s as a drop-in activity centre run by volunteers. It was a place for people to gather and socialize after they had finished their education.

“Over the years we’ve evolved and changed to meet commmunity demands,” said MacLean. “We really prioritize recycling and reusing resources within the community. That’s our mandate with Nora’s, that’s been our mandate with kindling, and now it’s the same thing with the wood pellets. The idea of reusing and keeping things from going to the landfill.”