Through Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), the Government of Canada is investing to strengthen communities affected by coal transition, enabling these communities to diversify their current economic development endeavours.
Southeast Saskatchewan and Alberta’s Cactus Corridor region are benefitting from $5.8 million to attract investment, expand local businesses and create jobs to support 12 economic development, training and career support initiatives in Saskatchewan and Alberta.
The funding comes from the Canada Coal Transition Initiative (CCTI), and includes nearly $1.5 million to the Cactus Corridor Economic Development Corporation to identify economic development opportunities and promote investment readiness in the region around Hanna and Youngstown, Alta.
Mark Nikota, Economic Development Manager for Cactus Corridor, stated this is only the first amount being allocated to Special Areas with more to be expected in the future.
The funding for this particular $1.5 million is going towards economic development support such as salaries, planning support and admin support like bookkeeping and so on as well as economic development readiness assessments (labour force, land inventory, water, power and logistics information gathering and red tape reduction) which is essentially the gathering of information to be ready to attract new business.
The money is also going towards two irrigation studies for Special Areas to build on existing irrigation work and the potential for an agricultural hub project to identify ag-related projects that may be viable for the region.
Lastly, starting an education hub project to identify educational projects that may be viable for the region.
Budget 2018 earmarked $35 million over five years for the CCTI to support skills development and economic diversification activities to help workers and communities adapt to Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy.
“The Canada Coal Transition Initiative grant has been, and will continue to be, a valuable resource for our region,” said Brett Richards, President, Cactus Corridor Economic Development Corporation.
In February 2018, the Government of Canada announced amendments to regulations to phase out traditional coal-fired electricity generation by 2030.
Western Diversification received $25 million in Budget 2018 to establish the Coal Transition which helps impacted communities in Alberta and Saskatchewan transition their economies away from coal-fired electricity generation.
Budget 2019 announced a further $105 million for WD to help address infrastructure needs in coal-affected communities.