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Eco-industrial park plans get thumbs-up from municipal planning commission

Proposed regulations for the development of eco-industrial parks in Red Deer received an enthusiastic thumbs-up from the city’s municipal planning commission on Wednesday.

Planning Department manager Tara Lodewyk described to the commission how an “eco-industrial park overlay district” would encourage businesses with environmentally sustainable values to locate near each other in affected light industrial areas.

They could use the by-products or waste materials from other businesses in their own operations, develop alternative or renewable energy facilities, and incorporate green design elements in their buildings and sites, she said.

“This really is a great opportunity for businesses and it really is about having those like-minded businesses co-locating and fostering that relationship between each other so that they can nurture and maybe cultivate more environmentally friendly innovation.”

A report presented to the commission said potential benefits for businesses in an eco-industrial park would include getting value for their waste materials and by-products, reducing their dependency on raw materials, sharing services like job-training and warehousing, and the cutting cost of things like waste disposal, transportation and shipping. Broader benefits would be reduced emissions and fewer materials going to the landfill, among others. Among the required design elements would be practical landscaping elements like shading, pedestrian-friendly walkways, parking for fuel-efficient vehicles, environmentally-sustainable building materials and designs, signage discouraging vehicle idling, and recycling or composting programs.

Other design elements, like stormwater management strategies and renewable energy sources, would be encouraged but not made mandatory.

Lodewyk said several communities in Alberta have already developed eco-industrial parks. The City of Red Deer designated two eco-industrial areas in the West QE2 Major Area Structure Plan, which was approved in 2007. These were subsequently incorporated into two industrial area structure plans for Queens Business Park.

“I cannot speak highly enough of this intiative from a technological perspective,” said Rob Kelham, a citizen representative on the commission.

Coun. Ken Johnston called the proposal a “brilliant piece of work,” and Coun. Dianne Wyntjes said it represented “an important leap” for the city.

The commission voted to recommend to city council that it add the eco-industrial park overlay district to Red Deer’s land use bylaw.

hrichards@reddeeradvocate.com

 
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