Environment minister tours irrigation districts

Wednesday, 29 August 2012 20:00 Gauthier, Gerald

Trevor Busch
Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Minister Diana McQueen headed a delegation touring irrigation districts and value-added industries in southern Alberta Wednesday.
During a lunch stop in Taber, McQueen briefly described the morning’s aerial tour of irrigation districts and works in the region.
“We’re here as MLAs, coming to have a tour of southern Alberta, certainly to have a tour of the irrigation districts. We had a chance to do a fly-over, so that myself, and our colleagues, can have the opportunity to see on the ground what it looks like. We’ve finished the tour of the irrigation districts, and now we’re on a ground tour as well.”
Included as part of the delegation were the extreme south’s only PC MLAs, Lethbridge West’s Greg Weadick and Lethbridge East’s Bridget Pastoor, as well as MLA(s) David Dorward, Rick Fraser, Linda Johnson and Maureen Kubinec, from other areas of the province.
McQueen noted in terms of southern Alberta’s extensive relationship with irrigation, seeing really is believing, and that it is important for new MLAs to gain a working knowledge of this vital aspect of Alberta’s economy.
In the afternoon, the government delegation visited the LambWeston Potato Processing as well as the Lantic Sugar Plant in Taber, both important value-added agricultural ventures in the area, before finishing the tour with a stop at Bayer Crop Science in Coaldale.
“That’s a great opportunity for us,” said McQueen, referring to the opportunity to see some value-added industries. “We talk a lot as MLAs, and as government, and Albertans, about adding more value in the province. And so when we come and get the chance to tour some of the opportunities that are here, it gives us the opportunity to see the importance of value-added first hand and to grow our agriculture industry in the value-added area – be it sugar, or potatoes, whatever that happens to be – it’s important for us to be able to come and see and talk to those that are producers.”
McQueen touched on the importance of water conservation in the province and the effective job irrigation districts have done in making it a reality.
“The irrigation districts should really be commended for the work that they have done, and continue to do, to conserve water, to make sure that water is being stored well. So they’ve come a long way, and that’s certainly something that we’ve learned, but also that they’ve learned. Especially in an enclosed basin in the south here, it’s so important that we make sure that every drop counts, and that we conserve wherever we can, and they’re doing an excellent job in doing that. In times when we have drought, they’re there to share with others as well, so that’s very important.”
The tour group also included a number of staff members of the Alberta Irrigation Products Association (AIPA) as well as high-ranking bureaucrats from the Ministries of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, Municipal Affairs, and Agriculture and Rural Development.