The resource rich Peace region has more than just oil and gas to offer. That’s why the Alberta Government has funded a research study by the Van Horne Institute. More than $90,000 was announced by Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous for the project when he visited the region Monday.

The groups wants to look at the possibility of what they call an “intermodal yard” for the area. It would serve as a central facility to load containers and connect them for rail shipments. The yards can also accommodate truck traffic. Van Horne’s Director of Stakeholder Relations Bryndis Witson says there are a number of factors to consider.

“The beginning of the study will look at potential users and providers of the containerized transportation. Then kind of looking at comparative cost analysis for truck and rail containers. [Also] looking at demand and supply scenarios and business case/profitability analysis.”

Witson says the research project is expected to take two or three different stages. She also says she expects to see the focus on rail transportation but if the study finds truck traffic would add value it could be incorporated as well.

There are several of these yards located around the province. The major centres of Edmonton and Calgary both have inter-modal yards as do other smaller communities around the province like Medicine Hat and Oyen.

The study is expected to narrow down a location that could work for a project of this size and magnitude. The yard could see trains that would head to ports in B.C., Toronto and even down into the states. These different end points could help a variety of industries reach new markets. That’s why Witson says they heard from multiple stakeholders in the region about a need for this project.

“Especially when you look at forestry, agriculture and different areas. Especially when there is so many different products within agriculture and oil and gas. So I think there’s so many different commodities that we’ll be looking at in our study.”

Witson says if the research outcomes are positive it could lead to future job development in the region.