Town of Taber, Alberta
A Great Place to Grow
With a laid-back rural lifestyle and enviable outdoor amenities at its doorstep, Taber, Alberta is one to watch
With a history that recognizes the area as the traditional territory of Indigenous Peoples long before homesteaders settled the land in the late 1890s, the town of Taber had its beginnings as a mining community. Today, Taber relies on a healthy and prosperous agricultural industry, due to its favorable growing conditions, and the extensive irrigation that was brought to the region in the 1950s. Located at the intersection of Highways 3 and 36, Taber is ideally located in Southern Alberta and is a growing community of close to 10,000 people. Surrounded by the Municipal District of Taber, the Town itself has the conveniences of a larger community, with all the charm and friendliness of rural Alberta.
Famous for its deliciously sweet corn, Taber is also home to the only sugar beet plant in Canada and is well known for its potato crops. The town even has an often repeated saying, as Mayor Andrew Prokop boasts, “If it can’t be grown in Taber, it can’t be grown anywhere!”
He continues, “There is a lot of truth to that. We’re currently about 85% irrigated land, and we do have some of the most ideal growing conditions and soil. We are very blessed and fortunate to have those here.” On the processing side, there are three potato processing plants within the region, Lamb Weston, and McCains, within minutes of the city, and Cavendish in nearby Lethbridge, which the mayor indicates is due to the exceptional growing capabilities in the area.
Amy Allred, Economic Development Manager shares that the Town has introduced an investment incentive bylaw, offering a tax break for new and redeveloping businesses. She explains, “For the first two years they get 100% exemption on their municipal taxes. Then 75%, 50%, and 25% over the next three years. If you are renovating or developing, you just have to increase your assessment value by 25%. That made it accessible to small standalone businesses and to large scale businesses so that everybody could be included.”
Taber is also partnered with the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program, and the Rural Renewal Stream, helping to attract an additional workforce to the area.
“We all know that rural areas have seen shortages in labor, and this program has been really excellent in helping the town come together and find the workers that our employers need,” Allred maintains. “It’s really helped our commercial sector start to grow. We joined the program six months ago, and so far, we have 32 candidates that have been recommended by our committees. We’re very excited about that program.”
Reporting $13.2 million in combined residential and commercial building permits in 2022, Taber has also welcomed 43 new businesses in the last year, with the average being between 40 and 45 over the last 5 years. Interest has also been growing in Taber’s Eureka Industrial Park, which has approximately 200 acres of land ready for development. As for what type of industry is being recruited for this park, Allred suggests the town is looking at anything from agri-food processors to trucking. She says, “We’re part of Canada’s premier food corridor, which is about a 50 Kilometer corridor between here and Lethbridge. It’s a cluster of agrifood processing, so we’re really trying to recruit those kinds of businesses. Why would you take the potatoes and take them anywhere else to have them processed when you can do it right here? We’ve got the land and the incentives and the people to make it work.”
The twinning of Highway 3, a $150 million investment, is expected to have a huge economic impact on the area. “The project was approved back in 2020 and is due to start this spring,” conveys Prokop. “That’s huge for this area, the lobbying for that has been going on for 20 years.” He adds that it has been calculated that for every dollar spent, there will be a $3 return to the region.
In another investment, Prokop says the government has earmarked 200,000 acres for new irrigation land, which will coincide with the expansion of the Chin water reservoir, where Taber gets its water. “It is a major reservoir that’s going to see roughly half again increase for water and watershed storage in the next 10 years,” he describes. “To be able to house that many acres for irrigation purposes, that’s also huge and it is a United Conservative Party focus related to the agrifood corridor area. It all ties back to the benefits of agriculture we’ve already got here, and it is only going to be enhanced in Taber and the area.”
Housing inventory is another area of growth, with Prairie Lake Estates, and Westview Estates bringing an additional 100 homes to the community. Along with this, the town is developing 60 acres, known as The Meadows, an affordable housing project which will bring 302 lots to the community.
Prokop reports, “There are currently 90 lots serviced and ready to go. We have five manufactured homes currently for sale, and we are looking to grow that area in the $250,000 and under price tag, meaning that you own the lot as well as the manufactured home as well.” He notes that there will also be some traditional builds, although a high water table means there are no basements. Keeping within the $250,000 price tag has had its challenges, especially when lumber and material prices skyrocketed during COVID, but the mayor says, “We are trying to maintain that. We had some difficulties honestly, over the pandemic, but we’re back on track with that.
As Taber welcomes newcomers to the community, Meghan Brennan, Communications and Projects Coordinator remarks that although they use all the traditional methods of community engagement and communication, one thing that stands out is the person-to-person approach.
She elaborates, “Obviously, word of mouth is a huge thing in a rural area and Taber is no different. With the new immigrants that we will be receiving here as part of the AAIP program, we’re focusing a great deal on communicating with people that are moving to Taber. We’ve really focused on creating things like the Newcomer Guide, to tell people the story of our community, what makes our community so amazing, and how you can be part of our community.”
This guide will be available both digitally and in printed form, with distribution at various locations throughout the Town. Another initiative, which will be known as ‘The Taber Advantage,’ is a marketing effort that will be introduced in 2023. “Taber is one of the most amazing communities in southern Alberta, and we’re very excited to market our community as truly a great place to grow,” Brennan portrays.
The introduction of a Community Standards Officer Program was a tri-effort between the Municipal District of Taber, the Village of Barnwell, and the Town of Taber’s Police services, who provided a bylaw officer for the role. The purpose is to have an officer who deals with bylaw violations, and enforcement in rural areas and the community of Barnwell, although Prokop says, “Enforcement is the last component, you don’t want to actually have to charge somebody if you can avoid it. It’s the first of its kind in the province, and we’re very thrilled that it’s worked out thus far.”
Other valued partnerships include those with the Taber and District Chamber of Commerce, the school board, and utility partners, all of whom have an important part in the success of the community. Collaboration with regional economic development groups such as Community Futures, a third-party business consulting resource, is also notable for their contributions to Taber’s business community.
On the sustainability side, Taber works closely with the Municipal Climate Action Change Center, which was able to assess the Town’s infrastructure to see where energy-efficient and green technologies could be introduced. This has brought forward the usual lighting retrofits, along with the introduction of EV charging stations throughout the community. “So, you can get from the peaks to the prairies, and you can charge your electric car here in Taber on your way. We also have a solar array project and a brand new EV Zamboni, so it doesn’t get more Canadian than that,” Brennan quips.
As a final highlight of the vibrant and diverse town of Taber, Mayor Prokop mentions the robust recreation opportunities, including Trout Pond, a world-renowned recreational area, used by the community and tourists as a prime place to fish, relax on the beach, camp, hike, bike and enjoy the scenic natural surroundings.
He recounts, “It is an ongoing project, construction was started in 2017, with about $1.8 million invested to date. We turned an old slew area into a recreational pond stocked with 70,000 trout. We have had people from all over the world visiting and commenting favorably on what we have out there.”
With much to offer and more on the horizon, Taber, Alberta really is, ‘A Great Place to Grow.’
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AT A GLANCE
What: A hub of agriculture in southern Alberta
Where: Alberta, Canada
McNally Contractors has built up Southern Alberta for more than 45 years. In that time, we have established ourselves as a company that values its relationships with clients and delivers projects on time and on budget.
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