Open house marks next step in Huxley grain terminal construction

For Jean Schmidt, the contrast could not be more stark.

Where once she and her late husband ran a quiet Huxley-area grain farm, GrainConnect’s multi-million dollar inland grain terminal and its four-kilometre circular rail siding enters final construction stages.

“I’m having trouble believing my eyes,” said Schmidt who now resides in Innisfail.

Schmidt, her son Ben, daughter Judi, and close to 500 area residents and producers participated in the multi-national grain company’s July 17 open house that included a locally catered lunch and networking at the Huxley ball field.

Guided elevator tours of the 78-hectare site located south of Huxley off of Highway 21 were given as well.

Jean Schmidt of Innisfail, left, and Judi Schmidt of Huxley stand in front of the 140-foot silos of the nearly completed GrainsConnect elevator during the company’s Wed. July 17 open house. The facility stands on land previously farmed by the Schmidt family and has an anticipated opening date this September. ECA Review/D. Nadeau

GrainsConnect administrator Lorraine Jacobs described the Huxley open house as a casual get together and welcoming of neighbours.

Company President Warren Stow said the company, founded in 2016 with its Canadian offices in Calgary, is owned by Australian and American interests and will partner with P&H to own and operate a Vancouver grain terminal.

“After the Huxley facility opens for business this September,” said Stow, “we could eventually have as many as eight staff in the elevator, six in the office, and 78 trucks rolling through here in a 10-hour day.”

When in full operation, a producer’s truck can be unloaded in less than 12 minutes and a 140-car train can be filled in eight hours.

Stow anticipates annual throughput at approximately 400,000 tons.

In an interview, Kneehill County Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Mike Haugen said the County did not spend any infrastructure money to make the facility possible and that the County, based on similar facilities, would expect yearly tax revenue to exceed $150,000—“but this is only a rough estimate; the actual amount is yet to be determined.”

When asked to comment on Huxley’s potential benefit from employment at the site or economic opportunity from the traffic coming to the site, Haugen said, “These present opportunities. Future tax revenues collected from the development will aid the County in delivering services and replacing needed infrastructure throughout the County.”

 

David Nadeau

ECA Review

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