The natural resources of agriculture, oil and gas have a major economic impact on the Town of Bonnyville. They are supported by construction, transportation, tourism, and a strong service and retail sector. Bonnyville is a major center for government offices, and a service center for the agriculture and petroleum industry.
Bonnyville has over 500 active licensed businesses, including more than fifty firms providing oil field services and more than sixty firms who are contractors or sub-contractors providing construction services in the region.
Agriculture in the surrounding area provides the population base for much of Bonnyville’s retail and professional service center. The tourism and hospitality industries are growing, serving skidoo enthusiasts in winter, and golfers, hunters, fishermen, hikers, campers, water-skiers, and birdwatchers in summer.
Bonnyville is the business centre or “hub” for this region. The Town of Bonnyville serves approximately 10,000 people who live within a 10-kilometre radius of the town and has a trading area of 27,000 people located within a 50-kilometre radius. The nearby Canadian Forces Base at Cold Lake and its population of 4,000 people has a significant impact on Bonnyville’s market.
Oil and Gas Industry
The leading industry in the Bonnyville area is the energy sector. With it’s location in north eastern Alberta, Bonnyville is situated on one of the largest heavy oil deposits in Canada at an estimated 200 billion barrels and borders the Athabasca tar sands which has a potential of 1.3 trillion barrels of bitumen and heavy oil.
Bonnyville is also situated over a large natural gas field that was discovered in 1947; one that has enough natural gas to supply the area’s domestic demands for years to come.
Imperial Oil, Canadian Natural Resources Limited (Wolf Lake and Primrose Lake), and Alberta Energy Company (Foster Creek), all located immediately north of Bonnyville, are currently investing in major projects in this area.
Agriculture in the Bonnyville Area
From its earliest fur trading days nearly 200 years ago, Bonnyville’s economy has always been bound strongly to the bounty of the land. That agricultural tie continues today, but now the traditional beef cattle and grain crops are supplemented by forestry, wild game farming and specialty crops as farmers look at ways to diversify and cope with the changing economics of the twenty-first century.
Located just outside of Bonnyville at Fort Kent, the Lakeland Agricultural Research Association is a major government research centre for specialty crops. The greenhouses in the area produce everything from flowers to new forests.
Bonnyville is home to one of Alberta’s larger tree nurseries, the Bonnyville Forest Nursery. Approximately 52,000 square feet of land is dedicated to greenhouse operations – a figure that doesn’t include the 6 acres that the Forest Nursery uses in its operation.
Bonnyville is a hub of activity for diversified livestock, and the operations in the area range from pheasants, rabbits, mink and fox to elk and deer, llamas, wild boar, ostriches, and buffalo.