Innovative eco-industrial project coming to Red Deer

Industrial businesses will have the chance to work together on reducing environmental impacts through an innovative concept coming to Red Deer.

Industrial businesses will have the chance to work together on reducing environmental impacts through an innovative concept coming to Red Deer.

The City of Red Deer is exploring having eco-industrial areas west of Hwy 2 and south of Hwy 11A, where companies would co-operate on recycling or reusing products, pooling resources and reducing environmental impacts through green building standards.

Eco-industrial parks are emerging around the world as a way to increase economic gains and improve environmental quality. But their success takes time and Red Deer officials don’t want to head into it too quickly.

City planning manager Nancy Hackett said it’s not as though industrial businesses will be green in nature.

“What will be different is how they operate,” she said.

For instance, a business that produces steam as a waste product could supply it to another business to be used for power.

“There is a desire to be innovative and to distinguish this industrial area from some of the others in the city and in the region,” Hackett said.

On Monday, city council unanimously approved the West QE2 Major Area Structure Plan, which involves 1,245 acres next to the main highway and which includes Queens Business Park, where land servicing and roadwork is now being done.

Hackett said the area structure plan originally planned for 148 acres to be eco-industrial. Now it’s 116 acres and about half of that land belongs to the city.

Howard Thompson, manager of Land and Economic Development, said the city’s land for eco-industrial could be a pilot project to see how well the concept would do.

“We’re more of a patient investor, we would be OK holding the land,” said Thompson, who recognized that developers may not have that luxury.

Council resolved to have additional research done on eco-industrial development and based on what is found, the size of the eco-industrial area could change in some locations.

Councillor Tara Veer said she’s glad the city is moving forward on this environmental front, but also carefully.

“We don’t want to put too much risk on private landowners or even on the city itself,” she said.

Council also supported having an additional commercial site of up to five acres for the same industrial park west of Hwy 2.

Veer said she likes the idea, particularly when a number of people bought the land there for commercial purposes prior to city annexation.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com