Following the federal announcement last Wednesday in Winnipeg about funding $6.2 million to the new Azure Sustainable Fuels facility in Portage la Prairie, Portage Mayor Sharilyn Knox is thrilled.
"It was a great opportunity to be involved in the announcement (Wednesday, January 17), with the federal government getting involved and the Canadian Infrastructure Bank with the Azure project," says Knox. "We're excited that this brings it one step closer to reality for our Portage la Prairie region. We know we have a long way to go in these types of things. But we're incredibly optimistic in seeing all three levels of government working together with Azure was a very exciting day."
Much was said in the announcement about climate, and Azure will put Portage on the map that much more for green efforts.
"Sustainable aviation fuel is a thing of the future," notes Knox. "It is being used already, but I think we're going to see more regulations come down the pipe in different areas. For us to be in the opportunity to be a lead in this in our country -- and it will be great, I think -- one thing that we really have to think about with this is that this is not going to be just something that benefits the Portage la Prairie region. It benefits producers in our whole province."
Knox explains that the numbers that they have us is just under $2 billion of economic growth in Manitoba with this project. She says this means that whatever the City can do to help support it along the way, they're going to continue to do.
"This funding fully funds them for the feed studies that they're making across the country, which is being done right now," adds Knox. "Then hopefully, near the end of the year, maybe early 2025, there will be a final decision as to when that shovel is going to go into the ground."
She explains the benefits of the facility will trickle down to education, training, and job creation. Knox adds employees will be required for this.
"All of these things happen behind the scenes when we're having these discussions, especially about big growth industry like this," says Knox. "It just can't be this facility being put on a piece of land. We have to think about all aspects of it when it comes to housing, education, training, and job opportunities. We have to think about our trades, our construction, and our accommodation. Everything has to be talked about, and that's what's happening behind the scenes on a project like this."