Minister Vandal announces new PrairiesCan service location in Lethbridge and federal investments across southern Alberta

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Over $11.2 million for Lethbridge area organizations and communities announced at the newest PrairiesCan service location

LETHBRIDGE, AB, Jan. 19, 2023 /CNW/ – Southern Alberta has extensive economic growth opportunities and is a key contributor to the province’s overall prosperity. Lethbridge and its surrounding communities have an abundance of skilled talent, natural resources, iconic tourism destinations and a rich Indigenous history.

Minister Vandal announces new PrairiesCan service location in Lethbridge and federal investments across southern Alberta (CNW Group/Prairies Economic Development Canada)

Today, the Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister for PrairiesCan, officially unveiled a new PrairiesCan service location in Lethbridge. This will bring PrairiesCan directly to the community recognizing the unique circumstances of southern Alberta. The new office is located in the Post, Lethbridge’s historic post office in the heart of downtown.  

Communities throughout the Prairies have unique needs and priorities and the people who live there know how to best address them. That is why the Government of Canada is enhancing community economic development across the Prairies by opening seven new PrairiesCan regional offices, including in Lethbridge.

Local entrepreneurs, municipalities, community organizations and more can tap into these services now available in their community. PrairiesCan will continue to serve as an investor, convener and pathfinder supporting businesses, innovation, and communities to build a strong, competitive Prairie economy that benefits everyone.

As part of the launch, Minister Vandal also announced more than $11.2 million in PrairiesCan funding for 18 projects to support tourism, community economic development, and innovation across southern Alberta, supporting 230 jobs.

Examples of projects receiving support include:

  • Lethbridge College is receiving over $2 million to establish an agriculture innovation centre for small- and medium-sized companies focused on agricultural technologies and agri-food products.
  • The University of Lethbridge is receiving over $1.4 million to establish a centre of expertise to develop commercial applications for health management and monitoring, as well as $868,300 to establish a work integrated learning centre for Indigenous youth.
  • Alberta Sugar Beet Growers in Taber is receiving over $242,000 to evaluate new market opportunities to grow Alberta’s sugar beet industry.
  • Lethbridge & District Exhibition is receiving over $3.5 million to install and provide state-of-the art digitization of the Lethbridge Agri-Food and Trade Centre.
  • The Galt Museum is receiving $75,000 to re-purpose an under-utilized space to create “Lethbridge Onscreen,” an outdoor audio/visual interpretive display to showcase local artwork and cultural exhibitions.

These projects have a wide range of impacts, from enhancing manufacturing and agri-food processing, to supporting hands-on learning for youth, and to creating accessible and modern public gathering spaces and will continue to build the region’s vibrant economy, creating jobs and opportunities for Alberta workers.


Southern Alberta plays a large part in Alberta’s prosperity, which is why our government is making investments so the region can continue to build on its strengths while creating and attracting high quality jobs Canadian workers can depend on. Our new PrairiesCan service location in Lethbridge allows us to work with local partners and sharpen our focus on further strengthening the area’s economy. This is just one more example of our government is working in partnership with communities on the Prairies to create new pathways for economic growth and respond to local priorities.” 

–The Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister for PrairiesCan

“The Lethbridge region is a driving force in our economy, and our government is committed to making sure it continues to play a major role in our economic prosperity for years to come. We are proud to support these projects that build on the strengths of the region and further diversify Alberta’s economy to create more local jobs and opportunities for everyone.” 

–The Honourable Brian Jean, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Northern Development, Government of Alberta

“As a City, we understand the value our regional partners bring to our local residents and to the rest of the country. The tagline of the Lethbridge community brand is “Brighter Together” which speaks to how much stronger we are when we collaborate across the region. I’m thrilled to see the immense financial investment and a permanent commitment from PrairiesCan to continue building on that regional strength and amplifying all Southern Alberta has to offer.” 

–Blaine Hyggen, Mayor of the City of Lethbridge

“This investment in the University of Lethbridge will further propel southern Alberta’s economic prosperity and technological expertise. Expanding work-integrated learning opportunities for Indigenous youth will help them excel in their studies and future careers. Together, these two programs will help create a bright future for our community.” 

–Dr. Mike Mahon, President and Vice-Chancellor

“We are exceptionally grateful for this investment by the Government of Canada solidifying its commitment to the agriculture economy in Southern Alberta. As we prepare to open our doors in Spring 2023, we do so knowing that we will welcome the world with state-of-the-art digital assets to match the industry leading innovations occurring throughout the region, further proving we are Canada’s Agriculture Destination” 

–Mike Warkentin, Chief Executive Officer, Lethbridge & District Exhibition

“Sugar beets have a long history in helping shape Southern Alberta and we are grateful for this funding opportunity to look at ways in which sugar beets can continue to contribute to the growth and development of this province and country.” 

–Dave Cailliau, Industry Development Chair of Alberta Sugar Beet Growers

“This investment from PrairiesCan will allow us to complete development of our new agriculture applied research and innovation centre and hire skilled personnel to operate our state-of-the-art agriculture research laboratory. We appreciate this commitment to agriculture research in southern Alberta as Lethbridge College’s researchers work to find innovative solutions that support industry and drive change in sustainable food production.” 

–Dr. Brad Donaldson, Lethbridge College President and CEO

“PrairiesCan investment shall provide unique opportunities for art, heritage, culture and history to come together and reflect the diversity of the creative south-western Alberta sector for years to come. Enriching our community with new stories and building capacity for future story tellers to develop their craft and have a place to showcase their talents demonstrates the value of culture in Alberta.” 

–Darrin J Martens, CEO/Executive Director, Galt Museum & Archives

Quick facts

  • In Budget 2021, the Government of Canada provided funding for Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) to transition into two new Regional Development Agencies – Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan) – serving the Prairies, and Pacific Economic Development Canada (PacifiCan) – serving British Columbia.
  • In August 2021, the Government of Canada officially launched Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan) and announced plans to open seven new service locations across the Prairies: Lethbridge, Fort McMurray and Grande Prairie in Alberta; Regina and Prince Albert in Saskatchewan; and Brandon and Thompson in Manitoba.
  • These seven new service locations are in addition to PrairiesCan headquarters in Edmonton, and existing offices in Saskatoon, Winnipeg and Ottawa, and including the expansion of our Calgary satellite office. These new offices will significantly extend our reach to better service our clients.
  • This enhanced community-based approach addresses the specific circumstances and needs of these communities and their surrounding regions, and includes a range of local organizations from different sectors as active participants in economic development.
  • The Lethbridge service location is at 704 4 Avenue South. This office space is located in the historic Lethbridge post office.


PrairiesCan funding of over $11.2 million for 18 projects in Lethbridge and surrounding communities is provided through several PrairiesCan programs, including the Community Economic Development and Diversification (CEDD) program, the Regional Innovation Ecosystems (RIE) program, the Tourism Relief Fund (TRF), and the Canada Community Revitalization Fund (CCRF). These investments are expected to support 230 jobs.

The combined $11,254,654 investment in the Lethbridge region provides more opportunities for growth and a prosperous economic future.

Community Economic Development and Diversification

The CEDD program supports economic development initiatives that contribute to the economic growth and diversification of communities across the Prairie provinces. Through this program, PrairiesCan enables communities to leverage their capacity and strengths to respond to economic development opportunities and adjust to changing and challenging economic circumstances. Today, PrairiesCan announced the following CEDD-funded project:

  • SouthGrow Regional Initiative – ($102,000) Implement an opportunity for a supply- chain identification project to support manufacturing and agri-food processing for small- and medium-sized businesses in south central Alberta. 

Regional Innovation Ecosystems

The RIE program stream aims to create, grow and nurture inclusive regional ecosystems that support business needs throughout the innovation continuum, and foster an entrepreneurial environment conducive to innovation, growth and competitiveness. Today, PrairiesCan announced the following five RIE-funded projects for $4,778,150:

  • Alberta Sugar Beet Growers Association – ($242,838) Evaluate new market opportunities to grow the Alberta sugar beet industry.
  • Lethbridge College – ($2,092,012) Establish an agriculture innovation centre to scale ag-tech and agri-food small- and medium-sized businesses in Alberta.
  • St. Mary River Irrigation District – ($85,000) Develop and pilot a water stewardship plan for an integrated southern Alberta potato value-chain.
  • University of Lethbridge – ($868,300) Establish a work integrated learning centre in Southern Alberta for Indigenous youth.
  • University of Lethbridge – ($1,495,000) Establish a centre of expertise to develop commercial applications for health management and monitoring

Tourism Relief Program

As part of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, the TRF supports tourism businesses and organizations to adapt their operations to meet public health requirements while investing in products and services to facilitate their future growth. This fund is helping position Canada as a destination of choice as domestic and international travel rebounds. Today, PrairiesCan announced the following four TRF funded projects for $4,378,610:

  • Alberta Birds of Prey Foundation – ($500,000) Build an environmental learning facility to host visitor programming and visitor experiences.
  • Lethbridge & District Exhibition – ($3,513,611) Install audio-visual equipment to provide state of the art digitization of the Lethbridge Agri-Food and Trade Centre.
  • Little Gem Winery Ltd. – ($99,999) Expand culinary and agri-tourism offerings in southwestern Alberta.
  • Tourism Lethbridge($265,000) Develop agri-food tourism strategy and driving tours for Lethbridge region.

Canada Community Revitalization Fund

As part of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, the CCRF helps communities across Canada build and improve community infrastructure projects so they can continue to rebound from the pandemic. With a national investment of $500 million over two years, the Fund’s purpose is to help not-for-profit organizations, municipalities, and other community groups, as well as Indigenous communities build new community infrastructure and revitalize existing assets, bring people to public spaces, create jobs, and stimulate local economies. Today, PrairiesCan announced the following eight CCRF funded projects for $2,841,394:

  • Allied Arts Council of Lethbridge($94,500) Revitalize the Casa Community Arts Centre Rotary Square in downtown Lethbridge, to provide shade to increase summer programming space.
  • Galt Museum – ($75,000) Re-purpose an under-utilized space to create “Lethbridge Onscreen,” an outdoor audio/visual interpretive display to showcase local artwork and cultural exhibitions.
  • Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Separate School Division – ($69,413) Build an outdoor basketball court on St. Michael’s school yard for the use of students, community residents and visitors.
  • Interfaith Food Bank Society of Lethbridge($112,642) Expand the community garden by improving accessibility and creating an outdoor patio.
  • Town of Coaldale($750,000) Construct an outdoor public plaza in downtown Coaldale to serve as a central community-gathering place for festivals, events and farmers markets.
  • Town of Coalhurst($269,068) Construct new pathways in Coalhurst to give residents safe spaces to walk, ride bikes and provide better access to the outdoors and nature.
  • Town of Picture Butte($206,532) Beautify the downtown core by creating safe spaces for residents and visitors to explore and shop at local businesses.
  • Town of Taber($413,739) Enhance downtown and re-engage the community with expanded sidewalks, adding murals by local artists and colorful banners.

Associated links

  • Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan) 
  • Community Economic Development and Diversification (CEDD)
  • Regional Innovation Ecosystems (RIE)
  • Tourism Relief Fund (TRF)
  • Canada Community Revitalization Fund (CCRF) 

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SOURCE Prairies Economic Development Canada

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