An industrial park in the works for south of Grande Prairie could advance plans to twin Highway 40. County of Grande Prairie Reeve Leanne Beaupre says the planning work currently underway by the Tri-Municipal Industrial Partnership will give them a better idea of what industries will be interested and how traffic could be affected.
“It also gives the ministers and ourselves the opportunity to advocate to the Minister of Transportation to maybe move the plans forward for the twinning and the second bridge across the Wapiti [River] because of the amount of traffic and the type of traffic that will be moving south.”
Plans to twin the highway from Grande Prairie south to the Wapiti River are in the works, along with another bridge, but have been said to be anywhere from four to 10 years out.
Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous confirmed Wednesday at the Growing the North Conference that an agreement between the partnership committee and the province is expected to be approved this month. MD of Greenview Reeve Dale Gervais wants to see issues with Highway 40 acknowledged at some point.
“The province says they’re a partner in this, well, that’s going to be part of their partnership obligations.”
An area structure plan for the project is also expected to be done by the end of the year to address the park’s physical boundaries and what type of development it can handle. The provincial government gave the MD of Greenview and the City and County of Grande Prairie a $210,000 CARES matching grant last fall to finish the ASP, a market analysis, and an environmental review for the Gold Creek Industrial Area.
The Tri-Municipal Industrial Partnership was first announced at the end of 2016, with the goal of building a large-scale industrial park on 335 square kilometres of Crown land in the MD. National and international companies are reportedly already showing interest, and Bilous says he recognizes they will be looking at a number of factors when considering investing.
“From where are the natural resources, what is the mill rate, to how much support is there from the different orders of government. I think what this shows is a commitment to working together – the province with the municipalities – in order to make it as easy as possible for business to invest.”
Bilous adds that the collaboration between the MD, city and county is what the province is looking for, and will be critical to Alberta’s competing on the world stage.