Mortgage burning celebrated by farmers, community

January 12, 2023

Burning the mortgage.
Photo: North Pine Farmers Institute

On November 20, the North Pine Farmers Institute (NPFI) hosted a mortgage-burning party to celebrate their final payment on a $874,000 loan from Northern Development.

The loan was approved in November 2009 to support NPFI as they sought to save the last grain elevator in Fort St. John’s elevator row, supporting $40 – $50 million in economic activity for local farmers annually. If destruction of the grain elevator went through as originally planned, farmers would have to transport their combined 70,000 metric tons of crops via road to Dawson Creek or Alberta, increasing costs and emissions.

“Behind every strong community are strong minded men and women, with a passion for the future of their communities,” said Wade Cusack, NPFI president. “This includes willingly giving their time and experience to improve conditions of rural life, so that settlement may be permanent and prosperous for the farming communities. The North Pine Farmers Institute is proof that for over 92 years in hard times, strong people take on whatever challenge or hurdle, to build and sustain their communities.”

When NPFI acquired the grain elevator in December 2009, they gained an asset that has proven to provide long-term and far-reaching benefits to the North Peace agricultural community and consumers. Although the elevator had not been in operation for three years prior to the purchase, NPFI was able to complete repairs and upgrades to render it useful again. In 2009, the cost to replace the elevator was over $3 million. NPFI purchased the elevator and land and completed upgrades for approximately $1.6 million.

Ribbon cutting ceremony.
From left: Wade Cusack (NPFI president), Irmi Critcher (BC Grain Producers), Pat Pimm (MLA Peace River North), Evan Saugstad (former Northern Development chair), Arthur Holland, Larry Houley, Karen Goodings (PRRD director), Bruce Lantz, Blair Lekstrom (MLA Peace River South) and Maurice Fines (NPFI past president).
Photo: Alaska Highway News

“The North Pine Farmers Institute elevator committee’s dedication, with the support of all NPFI members and surrounding community, has made this project a success,” said Cusack. “By working with local and provincial governments, NPFI’s tenant and Canadian National Railway, the NPFI elevator increased from a 16-car spot to a 24-car spot. Every week, this contributes to over 700 tons of farmers’ grain to get on rail and off the crowded roadways. Thanks to Northern Development Initiative Trust who believed and supported our vision, this successful project became possible. Thank you from the North Pine Farmers Institute.”

The grain elevator has railhead access, allowing for convenient transportation of crops and reducing road traffic. From the facility in Fort St. John, product is transported by rail to terminals in Prince Rupert and Vancouver before heading to overseas markets.

The preservation of the concrete grain elevator maintained and created local jobs, supported producers, positively contributed to food security and benefited the local economy. Read our 2012 story about this project for more details: