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Ecotourism & Sustainable Travel

Why This Alberta Town Is Your Ideal Startup or Expansion Solution 

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Sponsored by:

Tim MacPhee

Mayor, Vegreville

Miles Berry

Corporate Head of Innovation, Marketing, and Business Development, AJN

Vegreville, Alberta, known for its iconic world’s largest Easter egg (Pysanka) monument and a vibrant calendar of festivals and events, attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year. However, this town is rapidly redefining its image from a sleepy community home to a famous ‘roadside attraction’ to a dynamic hub aimed at drawing new residents and businesses through affordability, accessibility, and innovation.

Affordability and incentives a draw

What’s drawing industries to Vegreville is the fact that the town offers them pretty much everything they need to start up, scale up, or expand — affordably. “We have fully serviced industrial land available at $50,000 per square acre,” says Tim MacPhee, Mayor of Vegreville. “I don’t know of anywhere else in Canada where they could buy land at that price.” The town is also immediately adjacent to Trans-Canada Highway 16, one of the country’s major transportation corridors, as well boasts a rail line right beside its new fibre optic-connected Prosperity Industrial Park. Vegreville also offers several incentives that accelerate the local permitting process, reduce red tape and save money. “Businesses can get all their permitting done much faster here, typically in under two days, and we recently passed a bylaw allowing businesses to apply for a machinery and equipment tax exemption,” says Mayor MacPhee.  

A further advantage is that Vegreville is home to InnoTech Alberta, an applied research institute offering world-class expertise and industrial-scale facilities. “Some of the brightest minds in the agricultural industry are located here,” says Mayor MacPhee. 

Finding a labour force and addressing the housing challenge

Enticing new businesses to a rural area is not without challenges. “We get the same two questions from industry people when we talk to them about relocating here: where’s the labour force going to come from and how are you going to house the employees,” says Mayor MacPhee.

The solution to these and other challenges may reside with one of the new enterprises moving to Vegreville. Arctic Response Canada has announced plans to create an immigration onboarding and training centre. In collaboration with the Edmonton Newcomer Centre, this facility will offer newly landed Canadians the opportunity to experience the affordability and accessibility of a smaller community while receiving training for careers in high-demand industries. “We know there are a lot of new Canadians with skills and education, and we, with the help of Arctic Response Canada, want to connect them to the industries that are presently in Vegreville, or that have expressed interest in coming to Vegreville,” says Mayor MacPhee. 

AJN Investment & Development is another innovative business that will be moving to Vegreville, having recently announced a plan to build in the municipality’s Prosperity Industrial Park. AJN Investment & Development produces cementitious wall panels that have the potential to greatly ease Canada’s affordable housing shortage. “These are highly insulated, fireproof, waterproof, and meet or exceed all necessary certifications for use in Canada,” says Miles Berry, AJN’s Corporate Head of Innovation, Marketing, and Business Development. In May of this year, AJN signed an agreement with the Town of Vegreville to build the first of several $10.6-million-dollar factories in Alberta, using many materials available nearby.

Innovative approach leads to lower-cost housing

AJN’s approach to these prefabricated wall panels allows for markedly reduced costs and a more condensed and predictable construction build cycle. “They can be quickly and easily installed on houses at a much more affordable price,” says Berry. “With that kind of efficiency, we can help address the challenge of housing the influx of new workers coming to town and possibly achieve a meaningful dent in the national housing crisis as well.” 

That’s significant given Canada’s current three-million-unit shortfall. To address this, federal and provincial governments are partnering with municipalities to speed up new home building, often offering subsidies so they can be built and sold below market value. “Our view is that if we can substantially reduce the high construction costs, we don’t need to ask for government subsidies and we believe that’s a more innovative and sustainable way to balance the need for housing with economic growth,” says Berry.   

As for handling Vegreville’s economic growth challenges, having both Arctic Response Canada and AJN can mean a potential one-stop shop. “With Arctic Response, Vegreville can offer training for new Canadians to get the skills and Canadian certifications they need while AJN can provide ready-made and affordable housing along with potential future work opportunities,” says Berry.  “We’re very fortunate that AJN decided to build their manufacturing facility in Prosperity Industrial Park and we’re now working with them and other developers to build new neighbourhoods in our communities” adds Mayor MacPhee.

Showing Vegreville in a new light

Just as Alberta is growing by leaps and bounds, so is Vegreville. “We’re not going to be your grandfather’s Vegreville anymore,” says Mayor MacPhee. “We’re trying to bring Vegreville into a whole different light. We want to be a cutting-edge place to do business. We take pride in educating our youth and now we’re creating jobs for them so they can continue to call Vegreville home. We have a lot going on right now and AJN and its panel system are just the start.” 

Learn more about Vegreville’s affordability solutions for land, living, and homes at

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