City council has thrown a green blanket over portions of Queens Business Park.
During its meeting on Monday, council amended the city’s land use bylaw to create an eco-industrial park overlay district. That allows for environmentally-sustainable features in designated areas — such as alternative energy facilities and the opportunity for businesses to use the waste materials or byproducts of others.
The overlay district also specifies environmentally friendly design elements that must or can be used. These include building materials, landscaping, recycling and pedestrian connectivity.
“Eco-industrial is where companies pursue economic and environmental sustainability through collaboration with other businesses within the park and undertake eco-friendly site development,” explained Tara Lodewyk, Red Deer’s planning department manager.
Lodewyk said several other Alberta communities, including Fort McMurray, Hinton and Spruce Grove have eco-industrial parks. In Red Deer’s case, planning has been underway since 2007, when two eco-industrial areas were designated in the West QE2 major area structure plan.
Those areas, which make up about 116 acres of the West QE2 MASP, are located near natural features like tree stands and Cameo Lake.
Lodywyk told council these eco-industrial lands are currently undeveloped, but with the creation of the eco-industrial park overlay district, building permits can now be issued.
She said the eco-industrial parks will generate business opportunities and allow like-minded companies to operate near each other. The design elements required or encouraged under the overlay district will also create a unique and distinguishing appearance, she added.
Council voted unanimously to adopt the eco-industrial park overlay district. Coun. Dianne Wyntjes said it represented an “important vision,” for Red Deer, and Coun. Ken Johnston described the Planning Department’s work in developing the overlay as “brilliant.”
“We talk about Red Deer’s entrepreneurial spirit, and here we’ve created a climate, if you will, that allows that innovation . . . with like-minded businesses able to innovate and create in this particular setting,” said Johnston.