A new wallboard plant is set to begin construction in Wheatland County next year, adding a second producer to Western Canada and strengthening local supply chains.
CGC Inc., the Canadian division of USG Corp., announced plans for the $210 million project on July 28.
“Shipping our products from Eastern Canadian or American manufacturing plants no longer meets their growing demand,” said Chris Griffin, president and CEO of USG Corp., in announcing the new plant.
The investment will make CGC the second manufacturer of wallboard with manufacturing facilities in Western Canada. To date, the sole local producer has been CT Canada, a division of the CertainTeed Group, which operates facilities in British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba.
CGC has secured 214 acres for its project, making it a “very significant” development for the county and the region, according to Matt Boscariol, deputy chief administrative officer with Wheatland County.
In 2018, the county anticipated it would need 400 acres of industrial land through 2041, with about a quarter of the demand met by sites in the Goldfinch area.
However, the CGC plant more than doubles the uptake projected for the Goldfinch area, which has 6,388 acres designated for industrial development. Approximately 989 acres were in industrial use when the area plan was drafted, primarily companies in the agriculture sector such as Nutrien, Richardson Pioneer, Cargill, Co-op and Stella Jones, another building materials manufacturer.
The addition of CGC will bolster what has become a significant cluster of industrial development.
“Clustering manufacturing development in that area is a goal of the county, so we’re very happy to see another development coming to that area,” Boscariol said. “You have a couple of hundred employees migrating to that every day for work with respect to those existing manufacturing facilities, so adding to that really enhances the area and puts it on the map again.”
Construction will employ 200 people, with 100 jobs once the plant comes onstream.
“Situating the CGC plant in the Goldfinch area of the county, they can pull from Calgary, of course, you can pull from the county, the town of Strathmore, city of Chestermere – the world’s your oyster,” Boscariol said, noting that new arrivals can also take advantage of new housing in Carseland.
Proximity to Trans-Canada, rail connections and the availability of tax incentives helped attract CGC. In 2021, Wheatland County was one of the first local governments in Alberta to implement a municipal property tax incentive that gives new businesses a 40 per cent exemption on municipal property taxes levied on the change in property value as a result of development.
The project is also benefitting from a $3.74 million contribution the province is making from its $25 million Investment and Growth Fund established in 2020 to support the province’s recovery from COVID-19.
“Wheatland County was selected as the home for CGC's Western Canadian wallboard manufacturing plant because of the immediate economic benefits offered by local and regional governments, as well as long-term growth opportunities thanks to its close proximity to Calgary,” CGC said in a statement.
CGC’s announcement followed a Canada Border Services Agency decision in May supporting a renewal of antidumping measures against wallboard produced in the U.S. for use in Western Canada.
In 2018, following an initial finding, the decision notes that “CGC’s sales of goods imported from USG declined in terms of Western Canadian market share as CGC switched to selling a greater amount of Canadian goods produced outside of the Western Canadian market.” However, last year, its market share from import sales increased.
CBSA estimates suggest that wallboard imports from the U.S. last year totaled 177,363 million square feet, a 32 per cent increase over 2020.
The continuation of the antidumping measures is up to the Canadian International Trade Tribunal, which will hold a public hearing on the matter on August 15. A final decision is expected by October 19, 2022.