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Historic expansion for Alberta irrigation

Posted on October 14, 2020 by 40 Mile Commentator

The Alberta government announced an $815 million investment that will modernize irrigation district infrastructure and increase water storage capacity on Oct. 9.
The provincial government is teaming up with the Canadian Infrastructure Bank (CIB) and eight irrigation districts to create jobs, expand agriculture production and diversify value-added food processing.
It is expected the projects will create 6,800 direct and indirect jobs and 1,280 construction jobs.
The project’s focus will focus on increasing water conveyance efficiency and allowing more acres to be irrigated with the same amount of water.
“This historic investment in irrigation infrastructure will create thousands of jobs and support Alberta’s economic recovery, while strengthening our competitive advantage. Agriculture is the beating heart of Alberta’s economy and as global demand for agri-food products continues to grow, our producers and irrigation districts will be better positioned to meet that demand for generations to come,” said Jason Kenney, Premier of Alberta.
CIB, through its new three-year $10 billion Growth Plan, shows the immediate and tangible results and allows improvement in the lives of Albertans and Canadians.
“This Thanksgiving, we can be thankful that further improvements to Alberta’s already diverse agri-food sector will boost food production while strengthening Canada’s food security and expanding export opportunities. Through its Investing in Canada Plan, the Government of Canada is helping build sustainable modern public infrastructure, creating jobs, and making Canada more globally competitive,” said Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.
Provincial Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devine Dreeshen said “Alberta started out and always will be an agriculture powerhouse.”
“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.”
Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie Claude-Bibeau says this announcement will not only increase yield of the farmer’s crops but the long-term sustainability of their operations.
“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,” she said.
The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding amongst all parties and agreement in principle for the CIB is to invest about $407.5 million in this project, and to be paid back by the irrigation districts, represents an innovative approach to financing a unique asset class.
The Government of Alberta will contribute $244.5 million and the irrigation districts will contribute $163 million towards this important work.
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.
Alberta currently has 1.7 million irrigated acres.

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