Strathcona County: More jobs and more environmental responsibility

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Strathcona County works hard to ensure we have the most attractive climate for investment in our industrial heartland of Alberta while caring about our environment.

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Recently, the provincial government announced the Designated Industrial Zone (DIZ) pilot project in the Heartland; a project that was two years in the making. This designation is an example of regional and intergovernmental cooperation and will create a world-class regulatory framework. It will help attract new investment and create jobs in our community while delivering positive environmental outcomes.

What does this mean and how will it make Strathcona County more attractive to invest in? Government sources outline several benefits, which are discussed below.

Improve regulatory processes

Our industry partners have expressed that Alberta’s environmental regulatory process was complex and needed improvement, which in turn helps our partners submit robust applications with improved timelines for review. Under DIZ there is a streamlined renewal process for Environmental Protection and Improvement Act Approvals that reduce the time frame from 18 months to approximately six months. By shortening this timeframe, our Industrial Heartland further contributes to the strong value proposition as a global destination for world-class petrochemical investments.

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As a member of the Industrial Heartland, Strathcona County and the four other member communities are aligning their permitting requirements to make the process seamless; regardless of the municipal boundary within which the industry operates.

Promotion of environmental practices and monitoring

The provincial government recently announced a $1.5 million grant to Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Association to fund “code-ready” designs for up to three new water intakes. This gives investors additional security that water is available for industrial processes.

Another important aspect of environmental monitoring is raising the standards for air pollution control devices. We currently have air surveillance organizations such as the Fort Air Partnership and the Northeast Capital Industrial Association active in the industrial heartland that will benefit from this announcement.

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Industrial cluster for shared growth

This idea of ​​industrial clusters creates opportunities for neighboring facilities to share resources and infrastructure. This reduces costs for industrial partners and further improves economic and environmental performance.

A new approach will allow regulators to identify ways to improve basic environmental information to enable more robust environmental monitoring. Commitments include zone-specific environmental assessments, topsoil management policies, water quality management, and financial/human resources to implement environmental management programs.

The DIZ pilot project will be implemented on October 1, 2022. The project will run through September 2024 and will be analyzed for best practices in other potentially designated industrial zones in Alberta.

Your district council remains committed to ensuring that our community is the most competitive, attractive and environmentally responsible area for industrial growth. If you have any comments or feedback, please contact my office.

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This column was written by Mayor Rod Frank. The views expressed are his own. Follow Mayor Frank on Twitter @RodFrank12, Facebook at Rod Frank, LinkedIn You can reach Rod at 780-464-8000 or [email protected].

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