By Samantha Johnson
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A rural media roundtable took place earlier this month with Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors, and Brian Jean, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Northern Development.
The population of Alberta has doubled in the last few decades and is now 4.6 million. The third quarter of 2022 saw a net migration into Alberta from other countries and provinces. The government says it is keen to attract global investment and to do so must ensure the infrastructure is in place, thus, budget 2023 has a $700 million increase to the transportation budget. A large portion of this increase will go to maintenance on the 64,000 km of Alberta roads, many that have deteriorated over the past 15 years.
Jean suggested Dow Chemical could be bringing an $11-million private investment to Alberta, speculating it could create 8,000 jobs over a five-year period. Additionally, he says, other companies such as Exxon are talking about committing to larger investments.
The crux is all of this requires co-ordination and infrastructure by government, which the ministers said it intends to supply.
Jean says the new Alberta advantage must include a young, vibrant, highly skilled workforce, the best in Canada.
Dreeshen talked about political instability over past decade between the province and federal government, claiming certain policies out of Ottawa have hindered development here and across the country.
“What we are trying to do with economic corridors is flip that switch and say that we can, as provinces, working with partners and First Nations and other provinces, we can work together to try to limit that political instability and start to build a culture in Canada where we can have big, nation-building projects again,” he said.
Reducing the time the approval process takes is also important, said Dreeshen, who wants to avoid seeing projects fall into a ‘death by delay’ category. He talked about how economic corridors are the playing field the government is building, which they wish to invite private industry to come and play on.