Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston is meeting with investors to pitch Red Deer as the new servicing hub for hydrogen development in Alberta.
An information session about the clean-burning fuel source kicked off the first day of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association meeting in Edmonton on Wednesday. And Johnston was excited by what he heard about new developments in hydrogen technology.
Two big players — ATCO and Suncor — are partnering to develop a clean hydrogen project near Fort Saskatchewan. Johnston believes hydrogen, a clean energy alternative, could become Alberta’s next major resource in the next two to five years.
This could get Alberta’s economy humming again while allowing Canada to meet its new climate change targets, he said, but could present “a profound opportunity” for Red Deer to gain an economic driver.
“We will be aggressively pursuing some private investors over the next two months,” added the mayor, who has meetings lined up in Edmonton this week, as well as in early December.
His pitch to bring investment dollars to this city will be that Red Deer already has the know-how and infrastructure, as a major oilfield serving centre, to be able to switch to supporting the development of a new clean energy source for heating homes, businesses, industries, and as an export commodity.
“We have the natural infrastructure for being a servicing hub. Our location is ideally suited and we have a productive workforce,” said Johnston. He noted Red Deer Polytechnic is well poised to turn out the skilled workforce needed for hydrogen gas extraction and processing.
“I’ve said a few times: Do we dare to dream of another Nova? Look what the Nova plant has done, in terms of transforming the central Alberta corridor…”
The first day of the three-day AUMA conference was exciting on another front — Johnston said it was the first time in two years that all of the municipal members were able to meet, discuss and network in person.
A Red Deer delegation will join more than 1,000 AUMA members and 100 exhibitors at the three-day event that follows the Restrictions Exemption Program. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and other provincial ministers are expected to speak at the event.
On Thursday, a motion put forward by the City of Red Deer that urges for a provincial review of ambulance service in Alberta, will be discussed by the membership.
If most AUMA members vote to take up the cause, the provincial organization will lobby the province to hire a third-party investigator to study whether ambulance services are meeting professional standards after undergoing funding reductions and sweeping changes.
On Friday, a vote will be held to determine whether Red Deer city Coun. Lawrence Lee will become part of the AUMA executive. He’s running to become director of cities of up to 500,000 on the AUMA board.