Historic irrigation infrastructure expansion

Canadian organizations formalize an agreement for the Alberta Irrigation Project.
EDITED BY ANNE BLANKENBILLER
Canada irrigation

The Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB), Alberta’s government and eight irrigation districts have formalized an agreement for the Alberta Irrigation Project with the CIB investing $407.5 million.

The Alberta government will contribute $244.5 million and the irrigation districts will contribute $163 million to build modern irrigation infrastructure and significantly expand irrigable land opportunities.

Achieving financial close signifies all contractual steps have been completed. All partners have worked diligently to close the transaction after signing a memorandum of understanding in October. The project is the single largest irrigation expansion in Alberta’s history and will help grow Alberta’s economy and create jobs.

“The CIB is delivering on its commitment to invest $407.5 million to expand irrigation infrastructure in southern Alberta. This is an innovative deal that will create jobs and new infrastructure,” said Ehren Cory, CEO of Canada Infrastructure Bank. “Today marks our first financial close under the Growth Plan, our first investment in Alberta and our first opportunity in agriculture. We are just getting started and look forward to more opportunities to attract new investment to Alberta.”

This project is a massive deal for farmers, ranchers and food processors. Alberta is a leader in Canadian agriculture, and more irrigated acres means more investments, local jobs and the ability to feed a growing global population. Irrigation  contributes up to $3.6 billion to Alberta’s GDP and this will further diversify the economy.

“The Canada Infrastructure Bank’s $407 million investment in irrigation in Alberta will boost food production, bring long-term sustainability to farmers and create thousands of jobs,” said Catherine McKenna, minister of infrastructure and communities. “Now that the financing conditions have been met, the single largest expansion in irrigation in Alberta can go ahead. Under the new three-year $10 billion Growth Plan, the Canada Infrastructure Bank is delivering immediate and tangible results for Albertans and Canadians.”

Quick facts

  • Alberta has more than 1.4 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.
  • This is the first financial close achieved under the CIB’s $10 billion Growth Plan.
  • The CIB is mandated to invest $35 billion and attract private sector investment into new revenue-generating infrastructure projects.
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