Alberta Minute: Potato Production, Drought Conditions, and the Rural Rental Situation

Alberta Minute: Potato Production, Drought Conditions, and the Rural Rental Situation

Alberta Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Alberta politics.


Alberta Legislature by IQRemix on Flickr


This Week In Alberta:

  • The Legislature remains on break this week. Committee meetings resume at the end of the month.

  • Alberta’s 2024 wildfire season is shaping up to be a doozy due to above average seasonal temperatures and a dry fall. In 2023, 2.2 million hectares in the province burned, setting an unfortunate record. The previous record for area burned took place in 1981 when 1.3 million hectares were affected by fires. The vast majority of the province has not seen as much precipitation as it usually does in the fall and early part of winter. Alberta Wildfire will have crews in place about two weeks earlier this year. Snow and spring rain will be needed to put a damper on this upcoming fire season.

  • Alberta's Environment Minister, Rebecca Schulz, is urging municipalities to develop water shortage plans and conserve water in response to the province's drought conditions. Schulz has asked municipal leaders to review their water licences to assess any limits set during drought conditions and to be prepared to interact with the Province's new drought command team. Alberta is experiencing a drought due to low rainfall, high temperatures, and the impacts of El Niño. Schulz's department anticipates drought conditions continuing into 2025 and is working on a 2024 drought emergency plan.


Last Week In Alberta:

  • Alberta's potato farmers experienced a robust harvest in 2023, outproducing Prince Edward Island for the second time this century. The Potato Growers of Alberta noted a shift in production from east to west, citing growth in Washington, Idaho, and Manitoba. Higher yields were attributed to increased planting rather than consistent growing conditions with 80,100 acres of potatoes planted in Alberta this year, up from last year's total of 73,080 acres. Despite drought challenges, most potato acres in Alberta are grown under irrigation, contributing over $2 billion annually to the province's economy.

  • Alberta Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides said he is focused on building more schools, increasing staffing, and unveiling a new social studies curriculum in 2024. Despite calls to reconsider the K-12 funding model, Nicolaides said he's not scrapping the current formula. He believes additional grants, such as the $30 million announced in November, will address funding gaps for fast-growing school divisions. While Edmonton Catholic and Edmonton public continue to advocate for more school builds and changes to the funding formula, Nicolaides insists the current model works well. Our friends at the Alberta Parents’ Union will be providing more information about the new curriculum in the coming weeks.

  • A new provincial survey showed that rural Alberta is facing a changing rental landscape with apartments becoming scarcer and costlier. The overall vacancy rate in surveyed communities dropped from 11.5% in 2022 to 5.4% in 2023. Average rental prices increased, with a nearly 15% rise for bachelor apartments. The number of communities with no vacancy doubled from 11 to 22, reflecting a trend of increased demand for rental units in rural areas.




The Alberta Institute doesn't accept any government funding and never will. We think you should be free to choose, for yourself, which organizations to support. If you're in a position to contribute financially, you can make a donation here.



If you're not in a position to donate, we understand, but if you appreciate our work, you can help by spreading our message. Please forward this email to your friends, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and help make sure every Albertan knows what's going on in our province.

Showing 1 comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
Secured Via NationBuilder
  • Alberta Institute
    published this page in News 2024-01-06 20:50:46 -0700