Dream ends for Moose Jaw pea plant

A pea plant proposed for Moose Jaw in 2016 appears to be a no-go.

One of the two main German proponents pulled out of the project last year and the other is battling legal difficulties related to his previous job at the Emsland-Starke potato plant in his home country.

Michael Schonert, along with three others, was accused of bribery and corruption in relation to preferential transportation contracts awarded to another company.

The trial continues in Germany.

Canadian Protein Innovation was to be a 100,000-tonne yellow pea fractionation plant costing $75 to $100 million.

Saskatchewan growers were to supply the peas, and quality was not necessarily a huge factor because the peas would be converted to starch, protein and fibre.

At the time, Schonert said the market research had been done and the United States was the main target, followed by Asia. The components were to go into snack food, pasta, candy, pet products and industrial uses such as diesel particle filters and paper coating.

However, a year after the November 2016 announcement, nothing had happened. The city extended deadlines on the land purchase and servicing agreement twice, saying each party was doing due diligence.

“It’s a big project,” the city’s economic development officer, Jim Dixon, said in October 2017. “We’re very confident it will happen.”

But it didn’t happen and other pea plants, including one at Vanscoy, Sask., and another in Manitoba were announced. The Vanscoy plant is operating and the Roquette plant near Portage La Prairie is under construction.

The province’s trade ministry said it has never been officially notified that the CPI proposal is not going ahead.

Meanwhile, the other German director of CPI, Uli Duka, said he withdrew from the project because of delays.

“I found it very interesting, that project, and was persuaded, but I was about the financial part and when it came to signatures I couldn’t see any intention to move on, so that is when I decided to leave,” he said from Germany.

Financing was to come, in part, from a German third party.

Duka said Schonert was at the time still interested in pursuing the project but he didn’t hear anything after he withdrew.

This past summer the City of Moose Jaw sold the land on which CPI was to be built.

“There was an agreement signed between the city and CPI, but it expired as CPI did not proceed,” said an email from the city.

“This summer, a major land deal was struck between the city and Carpere for industrial park land in our southeast industrial park, including land that was in play during CPI negotiations, and under the agreement Carpere would bear the costs of development.”

That deal included 716 acres of industrial land and 64 acres of residential land.

Carpere is a development company based in Richmond, B.C., and has an agri-business division. It currently manages about 40,000 acres in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, which includes conventional and organic farming, and livestock.

karen.briere@producer.com

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