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Provincial funding makes ag-tech hub a reality for Olds College

More than $21 million in capital maintenance and renewal funding will create about 120 jobs in the Olds area.


July 13, 2020
By Province of Alberta

Topics
From left to right: Nathan Cooper, MLA Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills; Stuart Cullum, President, Olds College; Demetrios Nicolaides, Minister of Advanced Education

Alberta is spending $6.21 million to redevelop the James Murray Building and $15.16 million to expand the Lachlin McKinnon Building and Animal Health Technology labs at Olds College. Both projects will result in more state-of-the-art spaces for students and researchers. It will also give dozens of Albertans consistent, well-paying jobs – a key government priority under Alberta’s Recovery Plan.

The redevelopment and expansion of the James Murray Building will allow the college to create a new ag-tech learning hub, which promises to be a world leader in integrated agricultural, technological and data sciences learning experiences. Students and researchers will be able to partner with industry personnel to develop new technology for smart and sustainable agriculture.

The comprehensive renewal and renovation of the existing Lachlin McKinnon Building and Animal Health Technology labs will expand and revitalize the Animal Health Education Centre, helping the college address anticipated program growth and enrolment.

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“Agriculture is without a doubt the most important industry in our region. Our farm families are leaders in adopting new ideas and technology. Expanding and modernizing Olds College, supporting more students and researchers, will only help drive our industry forward,” says Nathan Cooper, MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills

Stuart Cullum, president, Olds College says the project will “make our Ag-Tech Learning Hub a reality, which will house the Werklund School of Agriculture Technology and new programming that is coming online this fall. Designed as a high-tech learning environment, the Ag-Tech Learning Hub will connect to in-field technologies at the Olds College Smart Farm, as well as to Alberta farmers and partners throughout the globe. Olds College is thankful for the support of the Alberta government and their co-investment toward both projects by our many generous donors and industry partners.”

Funding for the Olds College projects is part of an additional $98-million commitment to post-secondary institutions for accelerated capital maintenance and renewal, which is expected to create about 533 full-time jobs around the province. This investment in Olds College demonstrates government’s commitment to support rural communities and provide high-quality learning opportunities to attract students from across the province.

Budget 2020 already includes $118.5 million for capital maintenance and renewal at colleges, universities and polytechnics. In April, the Alberta government announced it was accelerating the capital plan and increasing capital maintenance and renewal spending in 2020-21 to almost $2 billion. Advanced Education worked with post-secondary institutions to identify projects, with a focus on addressing existing maintenance issues, ensuring compliance with building codes and regulations, increasing access to services, and reducing operational costs. Government also prioritized projects that will help create jobs, and are ready for work to begin.

The Olds College renewal project is part of the more than $10 billion infrastructure spending announced as part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan. This spending includes: $6.9 billion Budget 2020 capital spending, $980 million accelerated for Capital Maintenance and Renewal, $200 million for Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program and water infrastructure projects, $600 million in strategic infrastructure projects, $500 million in municipal infrastructure and $1.5 billion for Keystone XL.