Eco-park already putting Hinton on the map
By Bradley Fehr
Monday November 28, 2005
Hinton Parklander — Plans for Canada’s first eco-industrial park are well underway, however, only about a half dozen people turned out to hear the latest on the Hinton park at an information session.
“This is meant to be a showcase project,” explained Tracy Casavant, project management consultant, who has worked on the park since the beginning. “It can really put you on the map.”
She spoke at the meeting on Nov. 17 and told the assemble citizens that she has fielded inquires from all over the world about the project in Hinton. Both Austria and Germany would like to do something similar.
The eco-industrial park is to be developed as pristine green space and allow for industrial development of the land without spoiling it. The park should reduce green house gas emissions by about 20,000 tonnes per year as compared to a regular industrial park.
The town is still negotiating with the province to purchase the land for $500,000.
The park will be a first in Canada. Other industrial parks around the nation have been retrofitted to become eco-friendly.
Prospective tenants for the Hinton park will be judged based on a points system. The companies must attain a predetermined score to be accepted into the park. The businesses, however, can focus their efforts in one particular area to garner enough points. They could focus on energy conservation, or waste water as an example. Companies will also be asked to consider using waste products from other tenants, possibly waste water or excess heat, in their own operations.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for people to relocate to the park,” Casavant said.
Phase one of the project includes 12 parcels of land on 27 acres, which the town hopes to sell for about $150,000 per acre with lots of varying sizes.
“The larger parcels will work to attract other business to the area,” she predicted.
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.
The second phase will include 10 additional acres and the third and final phase will open up 15 more acres.
The design should be finalized by the summer of 2006 and the construction should soon follow. Phase two of the project could start sometime in late 2007, but that timetable depends a lot on the market conditions. Three tenants are required before the industrial park will move forward at all. Fifty-six per cent of the park will remain treed and it 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.
The goal is to create 620,000 square feet of industrial building space, which should take about 134,400 person hours to construct.
One resident at the meeting asked if the name eco-industrial might scare away prospective tenants. Casavant said much discussion has gone into what the park should be called and that she believes eco-industrial will work.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Green Municipalities Fund gave the project a much needed shot in the arm with a cash injection. This 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.
The town could stand to receive a 14-15 per cent internal return on revenue, plus potentially millions of dollars in future tax revenue. On Dec. 20, town council will give first reading to a land use bylaw amendment to give the site the first eco-industrial park zoning in the country. The first reading will initiate a public hearing process, which will commence in January. Land sales could shortly follow.
More information about the park can be found at www.eip.hinton.ca or by calling Economic Development Manager Renée LaBoucane at 865-6004.