A few years back when Lethbridge took on the task of identifying and developing a community brand, it was no surprise that the outcome included some sort of reference to the sun. Lethbridge has over 300 days of sunshine every year. The climate in southern Alberta allows for a long growing season, and when combined with an irrigation system that is the envy of many farmers, producers, and other regions worldwide, well, the crop yields are tough to beat. The collaboration or coming together of all things is also the driving message of the Lethbridge Brighter Together community brand… our community is great, and we should be proud of what we have done, but think of what more we can do by doing it together!
This ‘doing it together’ is evident in the work currently being done on Canada’s Premier Food Corridor (CPFC). The partnership between 5 regional organizations including Economic Development Lethbridge, Taber Economic Development, Municipal District of Taber, Town of Coaldale, and Lethbridge Country was created in an effort to help market the 55 km stretch of land along Highway 3 in Alberta. This stretch is home to nearly 4,500 farms and over 11,000 businesses involved in the Agriculture or Agri-Food sector.
With Agriculture accounting for nearly 20% of Lethbridge GDP (a number that goes up if you look at the region), it’s no surprise that the food corridor is a major project for the city of Lethbridge, a factor not lost on Trevor Lewington, CEO for Economic Development Lethbridge. “The farms and businesses within the food corridor are combining hard work and traditional growing methods with technology and innovation. This convergence will help them succeed and keep our region at the forefront of not only the ag and agri-food sectors, but also help contribute to others including manufacturing in addition to supply chain and logistics.”
Other organizations are also contributing to the potential of Lethbridge and it is becoming a world-renowned centre for all things agriculture. Construction is underway at Exhibition Park to modernize the facility into an Agri-Food hub for the region, an initiative that received funding from municipal and provincial governments. In October of 2020, an $815M investment was also made to upgrade and modernize irrigation systems in the region. Both projects will only enhance the opportunities and enable future success in the region.
The development of Canada’s Western Gateway (CWG) – Trade and Logistics Corridor is another collaborative effort by organizations in the region and will also help benefit farmers and producers in Lethbridge. Sitting only an hour from the Coutts border crossing, the only 24-hour commercial Canada/US border crossing in the province, Lethbridge’s physical location make it a hub for the region. Highways part of the CANAMEX corridor, railways intersecting the city, and strategic development in Lethbridge Airport over the foreseeable future will only add to the opportunities for local producers looking to ship their products worldwide. Agricultural exports from the Lethbridge CMA increased by 79% between 2019 and 2020, and with the work being done by the CWG, that number hopefully will continue on an upward trajectory.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a Cavendish Farms or an entrepreneur selling jams and jellies at the farmer’s market each weekend, we all have a part to play in helping elevate Lethbridge as the place to be if you’re in the ag industry,” says Lewington. “One of the hashtags we use is #SouthernAlbertaFeedstheWorld, and it’s a statement that with each day becomes more and more of a reality. With the amount of collaboration, innovation, determination, and investment being made in Lethbridge and the surrounding area, we keep seeing and hearing about how we are becoming a bigger and bigger player across the globe, and when people ask how we’re doing it? Brighter Together is always the answer.”