Bowden grain terminal a go

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BOWDEN – Paterson Grain is all in for a springtime build in Bowden.

All the regulatory approvals are done, deals are signed, land is purchased and the shovels will soon be in the ground.

“We are full steam ahead. All the necessary approvals are now in place with the county, Alberta Transportation, and we’re closing the deal on the land purchase,” said Shane Paterson, the grain handling company’s corporate development officer. “We are anticipating on turning earth there as soon as the ground thaws. As soon as the ground thaws we will start the earthwork operation.”

The Winnipeg-based company’s long awaited massive grain terminal project, first announced more than a year ago, is an investment of about $50 million and will take a year to complete. The project will be an ultra-modern 55,000-metric-tonne facility that will include a 3,594-metre loop track to load up to 150 cars in seven hours, a grain handling innovation that Paterson first introduced to the industry. When the Bowden project is completed it will be Paterson’s fourth Inland Export Terminal in Alberta, after ones in Gleichen, Dunmore and the newly constructed facility in Daysland.

“We looked at the whole landscape of the Prairies (for) selecting the next spot for a major investment like this. Bowden was an area we thought there was great production,” said Paterson. “There’s a great sense of community there that we want to be part of.”

And while the project is good news for Bowden-area farmers it is being hailed as a badly needed boost for the recession-battered local economy.

“It will be huge, (for) the job opportunities and the general benefits,” said Bowden mayor Robb Stuart. “We’ve worked really well with the county and we’ve met Paterson a couple of times and they seem pretty straightforward and (have) a track record of being really community-minded.

“We haven’t finalized our budget yet but it looks like we will have a zero per cent tax increase, and no utility rate increase,” added Stuart. “I think it should be a good time if people are thinking of looking for an opportunity for employment and to buy into town.”

Paterson said the project during the construction period will employ up to 100 workers at various times, including contract labour and about 30 the company will put directly onto its payroll. Once the terminal is up and running Paterson will initially hire 12 full-time employees, increasing up to 25 as business expands.

Over the past several months Paterson has been in ongoing discussions with the county, province and landowners to reach agreements on environmental and traffic issues at and near the half-section site at Highway 587 and Rge. Rd. 12, a kilometre west of the Town of Bowden.

The biggest issues facing Paterson Grain were reaching mutually acceptable agreements with Alberta Environment over possible wetland impacts, and between the company, county and Alberta Transportation on upgrades to the Highway 587 and Rge. Rd. 12 intersection.

Red Deer County mayor Jim Wood said the rural municipality will take the lead in the tendering and construction of the intersection upgrades and ensure it will be made to the specified standards as dictated by the province. He said a 50-50 cost sharing agreement was reached with Paterson that will see the grain handling company paying up to a maximum of $250,000 for the upgrades.

To help the company achieve approval agreements with the province on the wetlands issue, Wood said the county made development permit amendments for the grain terminal to move the process along.

“It worked out very well. We changed some grade levels, and there were various factors that they had to come up with (as) in any development. I heard nothing negative there,” said Wood.

The more than half-section of land Paterson acquired for the project was purchased from private landowners. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Paterson said no ground-breaking ceremony is being planned for the start of construction but the company will go out into the community as quickly as possible to build relationships. He said the company’s longstanding practice has been to host a grand opening event when citizens can have lunch and tours at the new facility.

Shane Paterson, corporate development officer for Paterson Grain

“All the necessary approvals are now in place with the county, Alberta Transportation, and we’re closing the deal on the land purchase. As soon as the ground thaws we will start the earthwork operation.”

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Johnnie Bachusky

Johnnie Bachusky joined the Innisfail Province as editor in 2013. He covers Innisfail and Red Deer County news, police, crime and municipal politics. He is also a photographer and columnist.