Excitement builds for new elevator in northern Alberta

Excitement is growing in Alberta’s northernmost farming region over a new elevator that will add significant storage space.

Richardson Pioneer’s new high throughput grain elevator in High Level, Alta., is expected to nearly quintuple storage capacity in the region, providing 32,000 tonnes of space.

It will replace the company’s aging elevator in the community, which has storage space of 6,500 tonnes.

“The market was being underserved, and the current elevator has been running on its last legs, so investment was needed,” said Tom Hamilton, senior vice-president with Richardson Pioneer.

“This is a large production area. It offered a big opportunity for us to serve the needs of customers.”

There has been lots of buzz in Mackenzie County about the new elevator, which is expected to be operational by November.

The new elevator should allow more farmers in the region to unload their products closer to home.

“It’ll be a huge boost for the community, especially having that capacity in our area,” said Rodney Friesen, who farms near Fort Vermilion, Alta. “I believe it will capture most of the grain in the area, and most farmers will sell there if the price is right and all that.”

Hamilton said he expects the elevator will serve most people in the short-term, but as more acres are opened up in the area, it will likely become more challenging to serve everyone.

He said the elevator will accept canola, wheat, barley, oats and organic oats.

“We look forward to the project being completed so we can start operating.”

Richardson Pioneer worked with the Town of High Level and the High Level Agricultural Exhibition Association to get the project started.

High Level mayor Crystal McAteer said the ag society had to move the rodeo grounds to make way for the elevator, but new rodeo grounds were established for the society. Without its help, she said, the new elevator may have never happened.

“They worked with us, and we got them moved to a new cleared space. We built a road, and now they have bigger and better rodeo grounds,” McAteer said. “It was a win-win for everyone.”

McAteer said the new elevator won’t only help farmers. It will also bring new revenue into the town.

“From the town’s perspective, it will bring a lot of new tax money to the community,” she said. “We can use that money to build more infrastructure.”

The new facility will be serviced by Canadian National Railway.

Once operational, it will work closely with Richardson Pioneer’s La Crete crop inputs business, which was acquired in February 2019 from AgLand Seed and Chemical Ltd.

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