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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 for our environment.

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

What does this mean and how will it make Strathcona County more attractive for investment? Government sources point to several benefits, discussed below.

Improve regulatory processes

Our industry partners have indicated that Alberta’s environmental regulatory process is complex and in need of improvement, which helps our partners submit strong claims with improved review times. Under DIZ, there is a simplified renewal process for Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act approvals, reducing lead times from 18 months to approximately six months. By reducing this timeframe, our industrial heartland further adds to the strong value proposition as a global destination for world-class petrochemical investments.

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As a member of the Industrial Hub, Strathcona County and the other four member municipalities align their permit requirements to make the process seamless; regardless of the municipal boundary within which the industry operates.

Advance environmental practices and monitoring

The provincial government recently announced a $1.5 million grant to the Industrial Heartland Association of Alberta to fund “regulation-ready” designs for up to three new water intakes. This will provide additional assurance to investors that water will be available for industrial processes.

Another important element of environmental monitoring is an increase in standards for air pollution reduction equipment. We currently have air watch organizations, such as the Fort Air Partnership and the Northeast Capital Industrial Association, that are active within the industrial heartland and will benefit from this announcement.

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Industrial clusters 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 opportunities to improve baseline environmental information to provide more robust environmental oversight. Commitments include area-specific environmental assessments, topsoil management guidelines, water quality management, and financial/human resources for the implementation of environmental management programs.

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

Your county council continues to advocate for our municipality to be the most competitive, attractive and environmentally friendly area for industrial growth. If you have any comments or comments, please contact my office.

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

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