Eco park zoning closer to reality
By Bradley Fehr (Bfehr@bowesnet.com)
Monday January 16, 2006
Town council is considering changing the zoning of a plot of land in town from a Direct Control District to Eco-Industrial District.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Mayor Glenn Taylor.
The first reading of the amendment is the first step in setting up a public hearing on the matter, which will be held on Jan. 17.
The plan for the development calls for a 108-acre industrial park to be developed by the Town on land bordered by Highway 16 to the south, the CN rail line to the north, Switzer Drive to the east and Hardisty Creek to the west.
Along with creating the amendment, the Town had to create the new zoning from scratch and drafted development guidelines for the park, which included a long list of permitted and discretionary uses.
The idea behind the eco-industrial park is to develop pristine green space and allow industrial development of the land without spoiling it. The parks strategy is based on three founding principles: to be socially responsible, ecologically sensitive and economically advantageous.
“I’m firmly convinced that the eco-park is the future of this community,” Taylor said.
The Town is still negotiating with the province to purchase the land for about $500,000.
The final figure is still being negotiated.
A public information session about the park was held on Nov. 17 and separate meetings with stakeholder groups were also held.
Phase one of the project includes 12 parcels of land, which the town hopes to sell for $150,000 per acre.
The town is aiming for 50 per cent of the businesses in the park to be from the value added/speciality wood products and related sectors, although almost all types of business are encouraged to inquire about the park.
Fifty-six per cent of the park will remain treed and the park will include natural walking trails.
In addition, only seven per cent of the Hinton park will be covered in roads as compared to 12 per cent in a regular industrial park.
If the zoning amendment goes through, the town could start taking names of interested tenants.
Taylor said he’s like to see work start on the infrastructure in spring or early summer.
The Town needs three tenants before the actual development of the land can begin.
The next phase of the project could commence sometime in late 2007, but that timetable depends a lot on the market conditions.
The Hinton Eco-Industrial Park project took a huge step towards becoming a reality after town of Hinton secured $5.5 million in federal funding in June.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Green Municipalities Fund doled out the cash, which included a $3.3 million grant and a $2.2 million low-interest loan.
The Town still hopes to get about $1.5 million from the provincial government, but could absorb the cost over 10 years if the that funding falls through.
However the Town could stand to receive a 14-15 per cent internal return on revenue, plus potentially millions of dollars in future tax revenue
More information about the park or the proposed zoning can be found at www.eip.hinton.ca or by calling economic development manager Renée LaBoucane, at 865-6004.