Alberta premier Jason Kenney made the announcement at the fish hatchery last Thursday.  JEFF GAYE

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced $10.3 million in upgrades funding for the Cold Lake Fish Hatchery while in the Lakeland last week.

The major upgrade will be replacing the hatchery’s “flow-through” water system with one where water is reused within the facility.

Currently the hatchery draws water from Cold Lake and then returns it to the lake. The new system will be more cost-efficient and will offer better biosecurity.

“The upgrades that we’re funding here today, including the construction of a new recirculating aquaculture system with a new building and associated infrastructure, will allow the hatchery significantly to reduce its utility costs and its water usage,” Kenney said.

The funding also includes a new oxygen generator, water headlocks, metal roof, and motor control systems.

Kenney said the work “will also create an estimated 40 jobs in engineering, project management, and construction.”

The Cold Lake hatchery is one of four fish hatching facilities in the province. In addition to 140,000 trout of various species for aquaculture and sport fishing, the Cold lake hatchery is the only one in Alberta that produces walleye.

Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment and Parks, said walleye production is important to Alberta’s sportfishing industry.

“Fishing is an important part of Alberta’s cultural fabric and there are few places in the world that offer the quality of diversification of fishing experiences that are found here in Alberta,” he said. 

During his visit, Kenney said he is listening to municipalities who are facing increased costs and reduced revenues. Some municipalities face a revenue crunch under the province’s proposed assessment regime for oil and gas operations.

“I think we all recognize that there we’re facing a huge challenge together and we all need to work in the same direction,” he said. “I’m hearing a lot of gratitude for the investment I announced last week of $1.1 billion of provincial and federal government support for Alberta municipalities. That’s a half-billion dollar increase in municipal infrastructure to help get people back to work during the recession. 

“And it’s $600 million in operational support for Alberta municipalities which have seen their tax revenues go down and their social expenditures go up because of the coronavirus recession,” he said.