Alberta’s government, together with the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) and eight irrigation districts, is modernizing irrigation infrastructure.

“This historic investment in irrigation infrastructure will create thousands of jobs and support Alberta’s economic recovery, while strengthening our competitive advantage,” said Premier Jason Kenney. “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.”

An $815-million investment will increase water storage capacity. It will also create up to 6,800 direct and indirect permanent jobs, and up to 1,280 construction jobs.

“Today’s irrigation investment announcement shows the immediate and tangible results delivered by the Canada Infrastructure Bank through its new three-year $10 billion Growth Plan to improve lives of Albertans and Canadians,” said Infrastructure and Communities Minister Catherine McKenna.

“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,” added McKenna. “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.”

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.

“The Canada Infrastructure Bank is very pleased about the opportunity to invest $407 million in agricultural infrastructure to grow Alberta’s economy and create jobs,” said Michael Sabia, chair of the Canada Infrastructure Bank. “This project is the single largest irrigation expansion in Alberta’s history. Our investment is an example of the CIB’s $10 billion Growth Plan in action. We look forward to developing more projects with the Government of Alberta, to invest in its infrastructure and to strengthen and diversify the province’s economy.”

Projects will 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,” said Dan Shute, board chair of the Western Irrigation District. “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.”


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