By Cole Parkinson
With the 11th annual Protein Summit in France coming up later this month, the Municipal District of Taber received a letter requesting they send someone to attend the event.
While the event was due up in only a few weeks, council was in favour of exploring the possibility of sending a representative to the summit and discussed the possibilities it would bring at their regular meeting on September 25.
“Given the M.D. of Taber’s vested interest in the growth of protein industries in our region, I would encourage you to seriously consider sending a representative to this event,” said the letter from Peter Casurella, SouthGrow executive director.
The Bridge2Food Protein Summit goes down in Lille, France on October 24-26 and will feature over 400 industry delegates, networking opportunities, industry tours and industry match-making opportunities.
While sending people to these types of events hasn’t happened often in the past for the M.D., this event was different as it has potential to affect them in the near future.
“The only reason I think this could be interesting for us is they are working to try and get this summit in Calgary next year. What they would like to do is offer tours for the summit before or after including some in this area. That’s why I think there might be some benefit for having somebody at this,” said Reeve Brian Brewin.
While not set in stone with the possibility of seeing the summit come to Alberta next year, council felt sending a representative in 2018 could pay dividends as they would make good connections if the event made its way over.
Council first pointed towards sending M.D. director of planning and economic development Kirk Hughes to the summit as their representative.
Council though felt that sending someone at the table would bring more benefits for the long run.
“Since Peter is going as an administrator of an organization, I think it would be better if a councillor was going, I really do. That’s just my feeling, somebody who is involved in agriculture I think would be important,” said Coun. John Turcato.
Others on council agreed with Turcato’s assessment.
“I think there is value in it being a councillor if someone on council is interested and available,” said Coun. Tamara Miyanaga.
The biggest issue with sending someone was the short turn around time, though it was doable.
With council all in favour of having someone present at the summit, they pointed to the benefits of having an M.D. of Taber rep in France.
“I think economic development wise it is worth our money but I think we are sending the staff, and SouthGrow to me is part of our team, I think it is important to send someone who can speak the language, and I don’t mean French, I mean farming,” added Miyanaga. “I think it should be someone who is well-versed in our area crops and irrigation. I think it’s important to make connections for part two of the conference. I don’t have the skill set to go but there are quite a few of you around the table who farm.”
Councillors Murray Reynolds, Jen Crowson, Tamara Miyanaga, Deputy Reeve Merrill Harris and Reeve Brian Brewin all declined to go while Councillors Leavitt Howg and Turcato said they might be able to make it work.
Council also asked CAO Derrick Krizsan if he would be able to attend, which he declined due to the number of meetings and work that was going on during the week of the summit.
“We’ve already invested as an M.D. and made a commitment to this initiative. Peter has recognized the value of sending someone,” continued Miyanaga.
Coun. Howg elected to decline the invitation and a motion was made to send Coun. Turcato to the summit.
The motion was approved unanimously by council.