NEW ELEVATOR OPTION FOR NORTHERN ALBERTA FARMERS
BY TREVOR BACQUE • PHOTO COURTESY OF RICHARDSON PIONEER
Farmers near High Level have reason to celebrate as Richardson Pioneer is set to begin accepting grain at its all-new high-throughput elevator by mid-November.
Situated within the County of Mackenzie in northern Alberta, the new $45 million handling facility has a total capacity of 32,000 tonnes. The elevator is the first new build in the area in about 40 years and replaces the company’s previous delivery point, which could only handle 6,500 tonnes. That facility will continue to be used for the time being before a decision about its future is made.
Tom Hamilton, Richardson’s senior vice-president of agribusiness, is excited on behalf of the region’s farmers for the new elevator.
“This facility will be able to ship that much more efficiently with a lot more receiving capacity,” he said.
Built by construction engineering company Todd and Sargent, Canada, Ltd., the facility boasts two bucket elevators and transfer drags as well as a top double distributor, each capable of handling 600 tonnes per hour. Served by the CN line, the facility has a 134-car loop track and may dramatically reduce freight costs for many of the area’s farmers.
For farmer Ernie Peters, this elevator cannot open soon enough.
“It’s a long time coming, its way overdue,” said Peters, who has one farm near La Crete to the southeast and another straight southwest at Keg River. “I’m also very thankful for Richardson Pioneer to spend up to $40 million so far north because that means they put their trust in the farmers.”
Currently, Peters primarily hauls his grain 280 kilometres to Grimshaw or the existing elevator in High Level. He has immediate plans to try out the new elevator.
Hamilton knows farmers are very much looking forward to the launch and believes overall this elevator, which will handle both conventional and organic crops, provides them with one more critical option that reflects today’s farming production.
“I’d say the market has probably been underserved,” he said, adding that six or seven new full-time jobs will be added to the local economy through the elevator. “We’ve done our market analysis and we are going to compete for the business and earn the business from the local producer.”
Grain from the terminal will head to either Prince Rupert or Vancouver for vessel shipment.
The new elevator is expected to have a close relationship with its recent inputs business that was acquired last February, Agland Seed and Chemical Ltd., located in La Crete. This is in line with Richardson’s overall strategy to have western Canadian elevators linked closely with its inputs suppliers.