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The local agriculture business is getting a bit of a boost through the purchase of a grain elevator in the Fort St. John area.

The North Pine Farmers Institute has purchased the grain elevator, located off the East Bypass, and more than two hectares of land around the structure.

The elevator was purchased for just under $800,000, says Larry Houley, president of the Institute, adding that the repairs to the structure will cost an additional $800,000.

Houley says the repairs and modernization of the elevator are going to allow it to be in operation for at least another 10 years.

The elevator is expected to provide better infrastructure for the local farmers so that they can recover from some of the infrastructure losses that they have suffered over the past few decades, says Wade Cusack, vice president of the Institute.

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He adds that the elevator will allow farmers to continue their agricultural production instead of having to go elsewhere.

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With the land surrounding the elevator, the Institute has also acquired nearly 500 metres of siding on the railway track that could enable farmers to transport grain via trains in the future.

The area has undergone many changes since many of the grain elevators were built, says Arthur Hadland, director of Area C and a long time institute member, adding that from the late 1950s to the late 1960s, the North Peace Region was the largest grain delivery point in the country.

The Institute decided to purchase the elevator from the previous owner after it had been scheduled for demolition.

Houley says the Institute applied to the Northern Development Initiative Trust for help with funding the purchase and the proposal received a lot of community support from both the City and the Peace River Regional District.

The elevator and the surrounding land were acquired from Cargill on Dec. 13 and the repairs are expected to be completed by Sep. 15.

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