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Eco-industrial park ready to proceed
Town likely to give project a green light at the July 20 council meeting
By Tyler Waugh

Hinton Parklander — Town council is expected to adopt a plan to develop a 108-acre eco-industrial park that could, in time, result in millions of dollars in municipal revenue.
Council got its first look at the Hinton Eco-Industrial Park plan at the July 13 standing committee meeting.

There were several questions, and a couple of requests for further research, but the consensus was that this plan will pass when formally presented to council July 20.

“It’s not often that a municipality is the developer in a situation like this, although Hinton has been in the past,” said town manager Bernie Kreiner.
The plan calls for a 108-acre eco-industrial park to be developed by the town on the land bordered by Hwy. 16 to the south, the CN rail line to the north, Switzer Drive to the east and Hardisty Creek to the west.
The development plan tentatively forecasts $10 million in costs over 10 years, which is admittedly ambitious according to Jim Ireland of Erin Consulting.

However, Ireland also said the town could stand to eventually receive a 14-15 per cent internal return on revenue, plus potentially millions of dollars in future tax revenues.
“This kind of park is designed to be a network to achieve synergies between the partners and the industries involved,” Ireland told the standing committee. “There is more money, less operating costs and the plan minimizes the environmental impact.”

Town has an advantage
The plan is based on a few assumptions, including the town purchasing some of the required land from the province at a price of $500,000. Another assumption is that the serviced land in a completed park is projected to go for $150,000 per acre.
To reduce the financial risks, Ireland said the town should adopt a phased approach to development where investment matches park growth. He also said that the town should take advantage of government grants and loans.
“You can access funding a private developer does not have access to. Partner that with cost savings on design and the case looks better,” he said.

Lisa Graul, the town’s property and planning manager, said companies have already expressed initial interest in being a tenant in the new park.
She said the eco-industrial concept, which is already widely accepted in Europe, has also caught the eye of one funding source in the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).

“They’ve really bought into this now so hopefully we can get (grant funding) quicker,” she said.

Plans to proceed
Town administration has made a number of recommendations to be passed at the July 20 meeting. It is believed the town will immediately begin to refine the basic business plan, ensure the needed resources are in place, and initiate a marketing campaign to attract key tenants.

“We are likely going to publicly launch the park marketing in September,” Kreiner said. “We’ve also had some preliminary discussions with a couple of people to become the agents in promoting this park.”

Three years in the making
The eco-industrial park plan got its beginnings in early 2001 when council and the municipal planning commission determined a need for more industrial space in Hinton. The town then secured $250,000 in funding to proceed with the concept plan and hired Erin Consulting to begin the work in October 2003.

Erin Consulting set out a site plan that is based around renewable energy systems, efficient infrastructure, recycled waste products and ecology.