$10 million available to ag societies

Smoky River Ag Society grounds in Donnelly, which are typical of the buildings and infrastructure throughout the province that will benefit from the Alberta Government’s $10 million grant that will be paid through Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan.

Peace Region to benefit from NDP $10 million Ag Society, “Energy Efficiency Grant”

Tom Henihan
Express Staff

Agriculture societies operate 700 facilities throughout Alberta, which include community halls, hockey rinks, fairgrounds and arenas, and many of those community buildings, and sports and recreation facilities are showing their age.

However, with the announcement of a $10 million grant by the Alberta Government, ag societies throughout the province will now be able to upgrade and refurbish their buildings and amenities.

There are 293 Ag societies in Alberta that play a significant role in rural areas, so the $10 million grant will have a tangible effect for the majority of people who live in these rural communities.

“I think it’s a great first step in helping our ag societies combat the rising cost of operations,” says Alberta Association of Agricultural Societies CEO, Tim Carson.

“These are critical facilities to all our rural communities. Our ag societies play a huge part in the quality of life in their areas so, having access to these kinds of dollars will help them to be sustainable and vibrant moving into the future.”

Along with providing funds for much needed improvements, the grant, paid through the Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan, will allow ag societies to make the transition to more energy efficient, environmentally friendly and cost effective choices when upgrading their facilities.

The grant comes with considerable latitude, allowing Ag societies to submit receipts retroactive to April 1, 2016 and before February 2020.

MLA for Dunvegan Central-peace Notley and Minister of Engergy, Marg McCuaig-Boyd said in a statement announcing the grant:

“Many of the facilities in the region are getting older and this money will help ag societies reduce greenhouse gas emissions and their energy costs,” says McCuaig-Boyd. “Ag societies are the heart of rural Alberta. I am pleased so many agriculture societies across the Peace will benefit from this program.”

According to the press release, about 250 agricultural societies operate facilities that will be eligible for money and the seven regional agriculture societies, which include Grande Prairie Regional Agricultural and Exhibition Society, will split $3 million, receiving approximately $430,000 each.

The $7 million balance will be split between the roughly 250 ag societies with buildings, as the grant is exclusively for societies that have infrastructure that requires upgrading.

As an adjunct to the energy efficient grant, the government has made a commitment to provide $11.5 million in stable funding annually to ag societies, allowing those societies to plan budgets to support education and important events in Alberta communities.

There is some speculation that funds from the Energy Efficiency Grant could be available to ag societies as early as March 31.

The grant does not address the age of ag societies infrastructure as there is not a building replacement program.

“But with managing their operational cost, I certainly see some advantages to it for sure,” says Carson. “I’m hoping it isn’t a one hit wonder: it is a wonderful piece of improvement strategy that I hope continues with government moving forward and it will be interesting to see what will happen after the election. At the end of the day, we are happy to work with government with these types of programs to ensure our members are getting the support they need to service their communities.” We are at the end of the original three-year commitment they made, which will end in 2019.


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