The Peace Region Economic Development Alliance (PREDA) is eager for the completion of a long-proposed east-west transportation corridor that spans northern Alberta, before linking communities in the Peace Region with Alaska, for the simple reason that northern Alberta is a cornerstone in the advancement of the province’s economy.
“The Peace [Region] has extensive forestry, agriculture, and oil and gas operations, but transportation challenges and costs are a great detriment and impede our ability to create value added products. Right now, if you want to ship something by rail from St. Isidore to Grande Prairie, you need to go through Edmonton,” says Dan Dibbelt, executive director of PREDA. “We not only have to link our communities together, we also need better access to international markets.”
PREDA at a Glance
- Member Communities: 47
- Area: 126,940 sq km
- Population: 80,083
- Major Projects Value: $8.8 billion
- Number of Businesses: 4,201
- Key Industries: Agriculture, Energy, Forestry, Tourism
- Website: peacecountrycanada.com
Sources: Government of Alberta, PREDA
PREDA first tackled the issue in 2015 when it formed the Northern Transportation Advocacy Bureau. In late-2020, the alliance was involved in government meetings proposing efficiency adjustments to the east-west corridor route and to advocate strongly that the corridor contain a rail line.
While Dibbelt acknowledges the corridor will require massive funding, as well as consultation with communities and business (CN being a prime example), he senses the importance of the corridor is getting noticed among Alberta’s policy-makers.
“They realize what a game changer a corridor would be for our region,” he says. “And that counts for a lot.”