THE NEWS CYCLE makes it self-evident things ain’t looking too good for Alberta’s future.
And should the pandemic red alert be lowered anytime soon, don’t expect a return to ‘normal’ for the provincial economy (let alone how we go about our business).
We’re going to have make a fresh start, whether we want to or not.
And since we opened the ‘virtual’ town hall, we’ve received several great ideas that invite serious consideration:
We should have excellent geothermal maps from the 400,000+ bore holes scattered across Alberta. With endless shallow heat supply, abundant sunshine and expertise in greenhouse food operations Alberta could grow a very significant industry that’s shock proofed from the various externalities that globalization distributes so effectively. I’d much rather eat lettuce from Raymond, AB then something sourced from who knows where and repackaged in Surrey.
Len Eddy, Edmonton
There’s an opportunity for Alberta in the PPE business, in particular, N95 masks are made from polypropylene [which relies on natural gas for feedstock] and IPL’s Heartland petrochemical complex is designed to create just that product. PPE could be a big winner in the context of diversifying AB’s economy by manufacturing the PPE in AB, or in the context of building Canada’s economy by utilizing the abandoned auto sector manufacturing infrastructure in ON. Politically, tying it to ON could be the big winner and could create a national strategy around creating and maintain a national best-before stockpile of PPE equipment. The continuous need to replace outdated PPE is every company’s fantasy product.”
Lenn Jaskula, Calgary
Len & Lenn—that’s a high five! Yes, let’s revive the bromance between the premiers of Ontario & Alberta. Just think how our natural gas & petrochemical business complements Ontario’s manufacturing expertise (a new spin on old exports to America comes to mind).
It’s been heartening to read constructive Edmonton-Calgary exchanges on social media:
David Foy [Calgary]: Focus on finding the next scarcity we could be supplying by trading on what we already know best and do best. My guess is it’s not animation studios, AI, or movies, none of which we can do better than others are already doing, and none of which are scarce. Perhaps it could be something like complex new energy generation and distribution systems. Let’s be the innovators who make fuel cells for electric vehicles a practical, safe, and cheap alternative to batteries, and then supply the hydrogen for those fuel cells through existing distribution networks that we learn now to modify (not as easy as it sounds).Not to mention capitalizing on our amazing agricultural innovators.
Idris Fashan [Edmonton]: David Foy We have existing engineering stock for carbon creation, management, storage, manufacture, etc. There are millions of products and optimizations (and industries) available to us. We just need to start shifting away from bitumen as solely an energy product. We could shift or own the carbon fibre industry as a region if we wanted. It’s an expensive commodity without a dominant player… that’s one option not unlike the many examples you offered. We actually do a lot of tech better than most. We have awesome innovators here in tech. The key is having leadership that doesn’t pick winners and losers.
THE FUTURE BEGINS WITH YOU
Tell us about your wish list—don’t be shy and make the ‘ask’—what you and your community needs to move the dial in Alberta. We’ll do what we can to support & advance your ideas. Please comment below or drop us a line.
This column is the consensus opinion of the writers Donna Kennedy-Glans & Don Hill. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to BEYOND POLARITY — scroll down on your phone or tablet, or look to the right in the panel beside this post. Enter your email to FOLLOW, a wheel spins, hamsters get fed.