The Progressive Conservative Party in Saskatchewan has its eye on developing more locally-grown produce in a way to grow the province’s food industry.
The PC Party has identified waste heat as energy that can help grow fruits and vegetables during the non-growing season. In a news release, the PC Party said most of the waste heat from Saskatchewan’s primary resource extraction industries is in the form of steam – either low pressure or high pressure – which is vented off into the atmosphere or natural gas that is flared off from the province’s oilfields.
The party would like to see the provincial government put in place the proper regulations and taxes to encourage the use of waste heat for the growing of fruits and vegetables. This would happen through the construction and use of greenhouses.
“Here in Estevan, it’s a real prominent thing that we have a lot of waste heat with our power plants and all the oil field facilities around,” said Paul Carroll, PC Party candidate for Estevan. “You see all kinds of flare stacks with gas being burnt off. There’s got to be a way to capture that heat and reuse it.”
The province has a greenhouse facility attached to the Shand power station south of Estevan, which uses waste heat. The facility has been used to grow trees but never fruits and vegetables.
“We looked at that, and with the price of food going high with our Canadian dollar dropping to an all-time low almost, we looked at that and thought this might be a great opportunity for vegetable and fruit growers to maximize some of their earning potentials,” explained Carroll.
The PC Party believes this facility should be turned over to the Saskatchewan Research Council and the University of Saskatchewan’s Department of Agriculture’s Horticultural program to find the best way to use waste heat.
According to Stats Canada, the price of produce has taken a big jump in the last year. The numbers show some fresh vegetables were up 18 per cent from January 2015 to January 2016 while some fruit was up 13 per cent during that period.
The news release states Saskatchewan can be a leader when it comes to reducing our dependence on imported food while promoting locally grown products to support healthy lifestyles in a cost-effective manner. It says the PC Party believes this type of forward looking and co-operative approach to food production will ensure a healthier society and a more productive economy.
“It’s just another way to have value-added products in our province. It expands our self-sufficiency in the area of food. We’re not so reliant on importing vegetables or fruits from the Mexico’s or California’s or the world,” said Carroll.
The PC Party calls food production Saskatchewan’s biggest strength, and the federal and provincial government should be investing in it.
This topic will be part of the PC Party’s platform heading into the provincial election on April 4.