Alberta will invest $27.8M on new agri-food hub for Lethbridge's Exhibition Park
Project is expected to create 400 new jobs
Alberta will invest $27.8 million toward a new agri-food hub at Lethbridge's Exhibition Park.
Exhibition Park hosted its first fair in 1897 and hosts events from the annual summer fair Whoop-Up days, to calf roping, monster truck rallies and weddings.
"This park has served the city and region well for more than a century but the facilities are already at capacity, many decades old and at the end of their lifecycle ... this project will bring a long-overdue renewal and major expansion to Exhibition Park right here," Premier Jason Kenney said in Lethbridge on Tuesday, accompanied by MLA Nathan Neudorf and Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshen.
We're building infrastructure for the future after [COVID-19].- Premier Jason Kenney
Kenney said the Lethbridge region represents some of the most productive agricultural land on earth, with 4.2 million acres supporting nearly 5,000 farms and over 11,000 agribusinesses, which generate more than $8 billion per year.
The hub's food production space will grow from 800 to 12,000 square feet, Kenney said, which will allow culinary students from Lethbridge College to train and research in the space.
There will also be an added conference space, a new festival lawn with room for large outdoor public gatherings in future years and incubation opportunities for local producers to build their businesses.
"We're building infrastructure for the future after [COVID-19]," Kenney said, adding that the government looked for projects that were shovel-ready but would also boost the economy long-term.
The project is expected to create 400 construction jobs and 50 permanent jobs after it's completed, and is estimated to boost the annual economic output from $74 million to $90 million for the economy of southern Alberta.
More than 850,000 people attend events at Exhibition Park each year.
Mayor Chris Spearman said the hub will bring many opportunities to the city and help diversify the economy.
"This will be an economic catalyst for Lethbridge and southern Alberta," said Spearman.
"We need to grow a stable and resilient economy in Alberta. As we begin to recover from COVID-19, this is a bright light as to how we might work together ... we welcome this investment in our community."