By Kendall King
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
– Medicine Hat News
Alberta’s government announced Nov. 12 a $117.7-million addition to the already $815 million being directed toward capital projects in the irrigation sector.
The funding was first announced in 2020 as part of the Investment and Growth Strategy, which aims to kick-start provincial economic recovery. Eight of the province’s 13 irrigation districts are participating.
“The program is a 30% Government of Alberta grant,” Richard Phillips, general manager of Bow River Irrigation District and chair of Irrigating Alberta Inc., told the News. “The irrigation districts are paying the remaining 70% of that.”
Phillips explained the Canada Infrastructure Bank will provide the irrigation districts with loans to cover initial project expenses, which will then be paid back in full, with interest.
“Every winter districts are doing a lot of infrastructure projects,” he said. “This (government funding) is simply accelerating the pace at which we will be completing these projects.”
Premier Jason Kenney said in a release, “This historic investment will create good jobs and grow even more agriculture possibilities.”
“As districts complete these projects it makes us more efficient in our water use, and as our water use efficiency increases we’re able to irrigate more land using even less water,” Phillips said. “The government predicted that it would enable about 25 000 additional irrigated acres in our district. I think that’s a very realistic projection.