A proposed economic corridor ending in Oyen could have a financial impact on Stettler and area.
The Government of Alberta recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Special Areas the Oyen Development Corporation, Oyen Regional Rail Company, and the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) to assess rebuilding a rail line west of Oyen.
According to Alberta Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation, and the MLA for Drumheller-Stettler, Nate Horner, two routes are being investigated for the proposed rail line; one north, through Stettler, and one south, through Drumheller.
“It’s a big area without a rail-line,” said Horner, in a recent interview.
The feasibility study for the project will cost around $1 million, with the province paying $475,000, the CIB paying $475,000, Special Areas and the Oyen Development Corporation funding $25,000, and the Oyen Regional Rail Company funding $25,000.
“The CIB doesn’t get involved unless (the project) has legs,” said Horner.
Horner says that the project falls well within the CIB’s mandate of helping ease logistical challenges across the country, and that this proposal, should it succeed, will bring “a lot of regional benefit.”
A line from the east currently dead-ends in Oyen; however, should the project be feasible Horner says that the community could become more of an agricultural processing hub.
The feasibility study determining any potential route for the project will look at both construction costs to get the shortline rail construction into the community and which routing is likely to have the most commercial traffic use.
“The goal of restoring shortline rail in Oyen is to provide access to critical export markets for Alberta products, including agriculture and agri-food products, fertilizer, and energy products,” notes a Government of Alberta release announcing the MOU signing.
According to Horner, the role of the CIB will be to lend money at a low rate to the developers of the project should it be feasible, but “the Government of Alberta may have a part to play” as well.
Editor’s note: The story has been edited for spelling and clarity