Irrigation infrastructure plays a transformative role in Alberta’s rural economy, creating new opportunities for producers by providing increased water storage, stability through periods of drought and long-term economic growth.

Alberta’s government, the Municipal District of Acadia, the Special Areas Board and the Canada Infrastructure Bank are investing about $7 million to continue the planning of a large-scale irrigation project to be located in east-central Alberta.

“Historically, irrigation has been a game-changer when it comes to increasing sustainable primary crop production. The east-central project has the potential to help grow the agri-food sector and support a diversified value-added processing industry. Thanks to our partnerships with Canada Infrastructure Bank, the MD of Acadia and the Special Areas Board, we are another step closer to modernizing and expanding Alberta’s irrigation infrastructure.”

Nate Horner, Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation
Planning for east-central irrigation expansion

(Left to right): Jason Wallsmith (CAO, MD of Acadia), Nate Horner (Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation), Jodie Parmar (Senior Director, Canadian Infrastructure Bank), Jordon Christianson (Chair, Special Areas Board)

Planning for the irrigation project will include preliminary engineering design, environmental and regulatory considerations and potential financing options. It is expected to take up to 24 months to complete and will inform the next steps in the irrigation project.

“Special Areas has everything it needs to become a highly productive agricultural area – everything except a reliable supply of water. This project could reinvent what agriculture looks like in east-central Alberta, bringing new opportunities to producers passionate about agriculture. Special Areas appreciates the strong partnership built by this project, and wants to thank Alberta Agriculture and Irrigation, the MD of Acadia and the Canada Infrastructure Bank for their ongoing support in developing large-scale irrigation in this region.”

Jordon Christianson, chair, Special Areas Board

“The MD of Acadia is excited to be partnering with the Special Areas Board, Alberta Agriculture and Irrigation, and the Canada Infrastructure Bank on irrigation development in our region. A large-scale irrigation project would increase water security and bring major economic benefits to agricultural producers while also enhancing recreational opportunities in the area.”

Peter Rafa, reeve, Municipal District of Acadia

“Modern irrigation infrastructure is critical to farmers working in Alberta’s agricultural sector and it supports the province’s economy. As part of the CIB’s Growth Plan initiative to accelerate investment in new infrastructure, we are pleased to further collaborate with Alberta’s government, the MD of Acadia and the Special Areas Board on the planning of an irrigation project in east-central Alberta.”

Ehren Cory, CEO, Canada Infrastructure Bank

Quick facts

  • Over the past two years, the Alberta government has partnered with the Canada Infrastructure Bank and nine irrigation districts to invest almost $933 million in irrigation expansion and modernization – the largest investment of its kind in Alberta’s history.
  • Alberta has more than 1.8 million irrigated acres and the east-central project has the potential to create up to 108,000 more.
  • A 2021 economic study found that Alberta’s irrigation districts create about 46,000 jobs and contribute about $5.4 billion in total gross domestic product (GDP).
  • An important part of Alberta’s economy, the agri-food sector contributes more than $8 billion in GDP and employs nearly 60,000 Albertans.