His­toric ex­pan­sion for Al­berta ir­ri­ga­tion

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - CLASSIFIED­S -

Al­berta’s gov­ern­ment, to­gether with the Canada In­fra­struc­ture Bank (CIB) and eight ir­ri­ga­tion districts, is mod­ern­iz­ing ir­ri­ga­tion in­fra­struc­ture to cre­ate jobs, ex­pand agri­cul­ture pro­duc­tion and di­ver­sify value-added food pro­cess­ing.

An $815-mil­lion in­vest­ment will mod­ern­ize ir­ri­ga­tion dis­trict in­fra­struc­ture and in­crease wa­ter stor­age ca­pac­ity, cre­at­ing up to 6,800 di­rect and in­di­rect per­ma­nent jobs and up to 1,280 con­struc­tion jobs.

“This vi­sion­ary in­vest­ment in agri­cul­ture is made pos­si­ble thanks to the part­ner­ship between Al­berta’s gov­ern­ment, the CIB and ir­ri­ga­tion districts. This ex­pan­sion will see hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres of pipe­lines built, con­trib­ute about $436 mil­lion an­nu­ally to Al­berta’s GDP, and cre­ate over 8,000 jobs. The more than 200,000 acres of new ir­ri­gated farm­land cre­ated from this ex­pan­sion is roughly a third of P.E.I.’s to­tal farm­land. Al­berta started out and al­ways will be an agri­cul­ture pow­er­house,” noted Devin Dreeshen, Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture and Forestry.

“This is a ma­jor de­vel­op­ment for Al­berta farmers. Through the Canada In­fra­struc­ture Bank, and with our pro­vin­cial coun­ter­parts, this in­vest­ment will lever­age pri­vate sec­tor part­ners to sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease the acreage of ir­ri­gated land in south­ern Al­berta. For farmers of grains, pulses, and other crops, this will not only in­crease the yields of their crops, but also the longterm sus­tain­abil­ity of their op­er­a­tions,” added Marie-Claude Bibeau, Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture and Agri-Food.

The sign­ing of a Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing amongst all par­ties and agree­ment in prin­ci­ple for the CIB to in­vest about $407.5 mil­lion in this project, to be paid back by the ir­ri­ga­tion districts, rep­re­sents an in­no­va­tive ap­proach to fi­nanc­ing a unique as­set class.

Projects fo­cus on in­creas­ing wa­ter con­veyance ef­fi­ciency and al­low­ing more acres to be ir­ri­gated with the same amount of wa­ter. Mod­ern­iz­ing and build­ing new ir­ri­ga­tion in­fra­struc­ture will:

• in­crease ir­ri­gated acreage

• in­crease pri­mary crop pro­duc­tion

• im­prove wa­ter use ef­fi­ciency

• in­crease wa­ter stor­age ca­pac­ity

• en­hance wa­ter se­cu­rity

• pro­vide flood pro­tec­tion to sup­port long-term value-added pro­cess­ing ac­tiv­ity.

The Gov­ern­ment of Al­berta will con­trib­ute $244.5 mil­lion and the ir­ri­ga­tion districts will con­trib­ute $163 mil­lion to­wards this im­por­tant work.

“This is a his­toric day, for the Western Ir­ri­ga­tion Dis­trict and for ir­ri­gated agri­cul­ture. A gen­er­a­tional in­vest­ment is be­ing made to en­sure pro­duc­tiv­ity and sta­bil­ity of Al­berta farms long into the fu­ture. With this fund­ing, we will ex­pand ir­ri­ga­tion, in­crease wa­ter ef­fi­ciency and make the ser­vice we pro­vide to our wa­ter users even more se­cure,” ex­plained Dan Shute, board chair, Western Ir­ri­ga­tion Dis­trict.

As high­lighted by Al­berta’s Re­cov­ery Plan, Al­berta has a hard-earned rep­u­ta­tion for high-qual­ity agri­cul­tural prod­ucts and a grow­ing ca­pac­ity to help meet the global de­mand for food. An im­por­tant part of our econ­omy, the agri-food sec­tor con­trib­utes $9.2 bil­lion in gross do­mes­tic prod­uct (GDP) and em­ploys about 77,000 Al­ber­tans.

Al­berta’s Re­cov­ery Plan is a bold, am­bi­tious long-term strat­egy to build, di­ver­sify, and cre­ate tens of thou­sands of jobs now. By build­ing schools, roads and other core in­fra­struc­ture we are ben­e­fit­ing our com­mu­ni­ties. By di­ver­si­fy­ing our econ­omy and at­tract­ing in­vest­ment with Canada’s most com­pet­i­tive tax en­vi­ron­ment, we are putting Al­berta on a path for a gen­er­a­tion of growth. Al­berta came to­gether to save lives by flat­ten­ing the curve and now we must do the same to save liveli­hoods, grow and thrive.

Quick facts

• Al­berta has more than 1.7 mil­lion ir­ri­gated acres.

• The ir­ri­ga­tion in­dus­try gen­er­ates about $2.4 bil­lion in an­nual labour in­come and sup­ports about 56,000 jobs.

• Ir­ri­ga­tion-re­lated agri­cul­tural pro­cess­ing gen­er­ates about $2 bil­lion in to­tal an­nual sales and ac­counts for about 18 per cent of to­tal pro­vin­cial food pro­cess­ing sales.

• The ir­ri­ga­tion in­dus­try con­trib­utes up to $3.6 bil­lion an­nu­ally to Al­berta’s GDP, which rep­re­sents about 20 per cent of the agri-food sec­tor GDP on only 4.7 per cent of the prov­ince’s cul­ti­vated land base.

• The eight ir­ri­ga­tion districts par­tic­i­pat­ing in the in­vest­ment in­clude: Bow River Ir­ri­ga­tion Dis­trict, Eastern Ir­ri­ga­tion Dis­trict, Leth­bridge North­ern Ir­ri­ga­tion Dis­trict, Ray­mond Ir­ri­ga­tion Dis­trict, St. Mary River Ir­ri­ga­tion Dis­trict, Taber Ir­ri­ga­tion Dis­trict, United Ir­ri­ga­tion Dis­trict and Western Ir­ri­ga­tion Dis­trict.

• The CIB is man­dated to in­vest $35 bil­lion in fed­eral fund­ing and at­tract pri­vate sec­tor in­vest­ment into new rev­enue-gen­er­at­ing in­fra­struc­ture projects. This is the first project an­nounced un­der the CIB’s re­cently an­nounced $10 bil­lion Growth Plan.

• The CIB rec­og­nizes the im­por­tance of the duty to con­sult, and where ap­pro­pri­ate, ac­com­mo­date any po­ten­tial im­pacts of the project on Indige­nous rights. The par­ties have in­cluded pro­vi­sions to en­sure if a duty to con­sult and/or ac­com­mo­date arise, they will be ad­e­quately dis­charged.

• The CIB is com­mit­ted to work­ing with fed­eral, pro­vin­cial and ter­ri­to­rial gov­ern­ments and Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties to en­sure the hon­our of the Crown is up­held on all projects where the CIB con­tem­plates any in­vest­ment.

• This project is part of the more than $10 bil­lion in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing an­nounced as part of Al­berta’s Re­cov­ery Plan. This spend­ing in­cludes:

° $6.9 bil­lion Bud­get 2020 cap­i­tal

spend­ing

° $980 mil­lion ac­cel­er­ated for Cap­i­tal

Main­te­nance and Re­newal

° $200 mil­lion for Strate­gic Trans­porta­tion In­fra­struc­ture Pro­gram and wa­ter in­fra­struc­ture projects

° $600 mil­lion in strate­gic in­fra­struc­ture projects, $500 mil­lion in mu­nic­i­pal in­fra­struc­ture

° $1.5 bil­lion for Key­stone XL.

File pho­tos

Sun set for another year but the news on ir­ri­ga­tion ex­pan­sion looks good for the fu­ture.

Ir­ri­ga­tion taps may be closed for the 2020 grow­ing but the news is flow­ing for those who need wa­ter for their crop.

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