Mayor Brian Spiller says it will be just like the good old days.
Innisfail will once again see regular faces from the farm stopping in town for a coffee or to shop after dropping off grain at the massive grain terminal at Niobe, a facility that will open before the harvest of 2017 with a promise to dramatically improve the fortunes of regional farmers, as well as for local merchants.
“That was back when mom and dad and the kids would come in by a grain truck and they would do a grocery shop while dropping off a load of grain,” said Spiller. “It is a little bit different these days. Nowadays when you drive through the landscape of Alberta and Saskatchewan you see these massive inland grain terminals and there is one every 50 or 60 miles instead of an (country) elevator every eight miles. It is nice to get one of those in our general area.
“There is going to be a lot of grain haulers coming right through our town. They might be stopping for gas or a meal,” he added of the future beneficial economic spinoffs for the town. “That will go on for the next 50, 60 or 70 years.”
Last week, Red Deer County approved a development permit application from GrainsConnect Canada Operations Inc. to build the rural municipality’s first high throughput grain terminal operation along Highway 2A at Niobe, two kilometres north of Innisfail.
Construction of the project, expected to cost up to $40 million, will begin this spring and will spread over more than 207 acres and process up to 35,000 metric tonnes of grain in 10. Most importantly it will give an immediate boost for the struggling local economy, as it will provide steady employment to 40 to 50 construction workers, and up to a maximum of 200 when the concrete slip is being poured continuously, 24 hours a day, over a period of up to six weeks.
“It’s great news because anything that happens in Central Alberta, be it in the county or the Town of Innisfail or the Town of Penhold, doesn’t stay in those communities,” said Spiller.
“It is like a drop of red dye in the bathtub – the economic diversity spreads out throughout all the area,” he added, noting farmers will save money on gas and trucking costs. “Anything that is good for Red Deer County is going to be good for Innisfail and it is going to be good for Penhold, and that is probably going to expand into the City of Red Deer.”
The news also pleased elected officials in Penhold and Bowden who agreed with Spiller that any economic growth in the region is also good for their communities.
“Highway 2A is a busy rural road and it’s definitely going to get a little busier,” said Penhold mayor Dennis Cooper of the main road that goes through his town. “We need the help to move our grains to the market.”
Bowden mayor Robb Stuart said he’s hoping the increased capacity of the new Niobe grain terminal will also result in increased transportation along the rail line that goes through his town.
“Some of the big trains are going through, but 80 per cent of them are still tankers, so hopefully we get a little more expediency in moving the grain or whatever other seed out of Alberta to the ports,” said Stuart. “Any economic growth we can get in the region is good.”
For more on the new Niobe grain terminal project read this week’s Mountain View Gazette.
Mayor Brian Spiller
“It is like a drop of red dye in the bathtub – the economic diversity spreads out throughout all the area. Anything that is good for Red Deer County is going to be good for Innisfail and it is going to be good for Penhold.”