By Trevor Busch
Sunny South News
Facilitating the development of an agri-food corridor on Highway 3 in southern Alberta has become a key goal of Alberta’s UCP government, and the Town of Taber is working hand-in-hand to help make that dream a reality.
“We already have a very welcoming business environment. We have strong infrastructure for agri-food and a skilled workforce,” said Amy Allred, economic development manager. “We have many people who have worked in agri-food or worked in agriculture here most of their lives, which is a great benefit to agri-food companies, to the whole supply chain and knowing and understanding how the product works and moves and can be produced. I think just building that infrastructure, still creating that welcoming environment with things like our tax incentive, is the way to help bring new producers and then, of course, the province’s investment into Canada’s Premier Food Corridor (CPFC) and into things like McCain’s is going to really help grow the industry.”
Allred was unable to provide any details, but she intimated that some major announcements are on the horizon in terms of further development of the CPFC.
“We have some exciting news coming very soon, on a couple of different fronts for Canada’s Premier Food Corridor,” said Allred. “But the investment from the province and the feds is very important to us as it helps us grow our base. It helps build the economy. It helps bring in new investors and supports their business as well as spin off business. Because of course if you have a new company come in there’s going to be trucking companies, there’s going to be potato growers, there’s going to be a lot of different people involved. And it benefits everybody. So having their investments helps us grow.”
One of Taber’s deficiencies that is hampering rapid investment and population growth – cited repeatedly in recent years – is a chronic lack of affordable housing and development in the community, which makes it difficult for the municipality to attract and retain the labour the region needs.
“Taber would like to keep growing and continue growing,” said Allred. “We do have The Meadows development, which is our new attainable living development. We have a couple of houses available to purchase out there at the moment, people can either put manufactured homes on them, or they can build directly on the ground, stick-build, so they can build a house out there on the same footprint as a manufactured home, which is our biggest initiative at the moment in terms of affordable housing.”
Twinning a 46-kilometre stretch of Highway 3 set to commence this spring will only make is easier to get products to market in a more safe and timely fashion.
“The Highway 3 (project) is going to be excellent and really help build Canada’s Premier Food Corridor making it easier to get the crops, and easier to get the product out, easier for everybody to move,” said Allred. “That’s part of what we’re working on with the province to continue to build this as the place to be if you’re in the business of food, that you should be here in southern Alberta, not just growing it, but producing it here as well.”