Lethbridge by the Numbers
• Incorporated as a City: May 9, 1906
• Current Mayor: Chris Spearman
• Population (2018): 99,769
• Population change: 2011-2016: 11%
• Land Area: 122 sq. km
• Major Project Investment: $1.1 billion
• Median Household Income: $90,470
Sources: Statistics Canada, Economic Development Lethbridge, Alberta Municipal Affairs
It’s often written that the food industry is recession-proof because, well, people need to eat – and Lethbridge, along with the communities in the surrounding region, have a distinct focus on agriculture and agri-food development that provides support for this idea.
With almost 900 farms in the region surrounding Alberta’s third-largest city and generating upwards of $1.1 billion per year (around 20 percent of the city’s GDP), Lethbridge has enjoyed economic success in recent years.
“That’s the key piece, as long as trade is good, we can weather that storm. Agriculture typically performs in a very stable, positive way,” says Trevor Lewington, CEO of Economic Development Lethbridge.
In an effort to grow those numbers, Lethbridge has partnered with several farmers, food processors, industry associations, supply chain companies and research organizations to establish Canada’s Premier Food Corridor (CPFC). The CPFC region includes Lethbridge County and the Municipal District of Taber, and is being promoted by economic development professionals across Alberta’s southern region.
“We are building on a strength, and on a rising world need for top-quality, sustainable food,” says Martin Ebel, economic development officer with Lethbridge County. “We understand that we are stronger and can have a larger impact when we work with our regional neighbours than if we just go it alone.”
The CPFC is home to superior growing conditions with over 906,151 acres of irrigated land in an area just north of the United States border that serves approximately 342,000 people. Already supported by over 30 industry associations, the corridor is proving to be a huge draw for investors looking to tour Alberta’s agricultural initiatives, says Ben Young, economic development officer with the Town of Taber.
“Not only is all of the primary production rurally located, but much of the value-added processing is distributed in rural areas across the region,” says Peter Casurella, executive director of SouthGrow Regional Economic Development. “The past, and the future, of southern Alberta is agri-food.”