Premier Jason Kenney said the Lakeland area will receive provincial stimulus money to get some projects moving this year.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there has been an indication for the provincial government to spend money on infrastructure and spurring the economy across Alberta.
Municipalities have sent shovel-ready projects to the province in hopes of getting the green light on funding, and Kenney said he recognizes the importance of the Lakeland region.
“We also recognize that the northeast and central Alberta region, around the Lakeland area, around Bonnyville, Cold Lake and Lloydminster, that whole area, heavy industrial–in many ways, a diversified economy because you’ve always had strong agriculture and you’ve also got the heavy oil, nonconventional, natural gas–and those industries have been hit really hard over the past five years,” said Kenney.
“And now we’ve seen a total collapse in energy prices, which obviously is affecting your area more than most.”
Bonnyville, for example, sent a shortlist of road and trail improvement projects to be considered for funding.
Kenney listed many of the province’s initiatives including emergency isolation payments, liquidity measures for businesses, and tax deferrals.
“Later this month, we will be unveiling the overview of our economic recovery plan, which will include significant additional investments to support diversification,” he said.
“Another thing we’ve done is to roll a billion dollars out with the supportive Government of Canada for accelerated well reclamation and completion to help us to create a thousands of good blue collar oilfield service jobs while also addressing an environmental liability. So that program will have, I think, a disproportionate impact in the Lakeland region and much more to come.”
The provincial government also spent $1.5 billion in equity on the Keystone XL Pipeline to begin construction, which Kenney said will help the area.
But he also anticipates a tough economic year overall.
“Let me be clear, no sugarcoating this, we’re in for a tough year ahead. But coming out of that, when the market is back in balance–a couple of interesting things. I expect that US shale will have come off, reduced output and production permanently by millions of barrels a day.
“The US Gulf Coast refineries are going to continue to be hungry for heavy crude to process. The Americans, whoever the president is, will be more conscious than ever, about the strategic importance of North American energy independence. They need that energy.
“We need to get it to them and post-recession, if we want to bring job-creating capital investment back into our energy sector, including to do exploration in the Lakeland region, we need that pipeline. It will add about 820,000 barrels per day minimum of additional capacity that project is critical for our future.”