County officials hope a future can be found for CDC

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SANDRA M STANWAY
Brooks Bulletin

County representatives travelled to Edmonton recently to discuss what or if there is a future for the Crop Diversification Centre (CDC).
County reeve Arno Doerksen, CAO Matt Fenske and Todd Green, agricultural fieldman, met with Nate Horner, the minister of agriculture, for a fact-finding meeting.
“The group that met doesn’t have an end point necessarily in mind other than to see things start to happen there again,” said Doerksen.
He said the meeting did turn out to be good timing as the government is beginning to look at future utilization of the 87-year-old $15-$20 million facility.
“We didn’t get a final answer as to what’s happening in specifics but I think the government has been welcoming inquires and initiatives that could put the site to some use.”
He said there were some ideas that were acknowledged by both the minister and his deputy minister and that next steps will involve some local engagement.
He said while there are some agricultural projects going on in the facility, there is nothing to the extent that it had been.
“That emerged a few years ago when the provincial government got out of some of the research in a number of their crop diversification centres around the province,” said Doerksen.
“Our concern is to see the asset used in a way that delivers something to the community and the province, for that matter.”
The last major influx of funding from the province was in 2009 when $16.5 million was provided for redevelopment of the CDC.
It included an 11,840 sq. foot research greenhouse, a 41,980 sq. foot production greenhouse and an 8,100 sq. foot support building.
Today, some of the buildings have reportedly been used to grow hydroponic strawberries and tomatoes.
In the early days the CDC was known as the Alberta Special Crops and Horticultural Research Centre and was used to support the development of the commercial hort industry. Research, development and management techniques were developed for numerous crops including forage, pulses, cereals and oilseeds.
In its heyday, the 127-hectare site welcomed visitors to the landscaped grounds.
Visitors toured the rose garden, the Forever Green Pinetum a collection of 120 coniferous trees and shrubs and the four hectares Golden Prairie Arboretum.
Over the years trees have been removed from the grounds and some have been replanted at local provincial parks.