Table of contents

Overview

The Designated Industrial Zone (DIZ) in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland will establish a best-in-class regulatory framework that will help attract new investment and create good jobs for Albertans while realizing environmental outcomes.

Facilities in the DIZ will benefit from:

  • consistent, coordinated regulatory approvals
  • shared access to infrastructure and resources
  • minimized cumulative environmental impacts through participative governance of the zone and a commitment to continuous improvement

Designated Industrial Zones

Designated Industrial Zones chart

There are 6 criteria required to designate an area as an industrial zone:

  • Formal agreement

    DIZ proponents sign-off on an agreement to:

    • establish financial and human resource allocation
    • set timelines and notices for DIZ changes or adjustments
    • schedule recurring agreement reviews
  • Coordinated zoning

    Participating municipalities coordinate the DIZ by:

    • developing Area Structure Plans outlining the DIZ and heavy industrial sites
    • establishing master drainage plans and identifying environmentally sensitive areas and critical social and/or economic infrastructure
  • Target size and scale

    An area designated as a DIZ has:

    • sufficient land area for growth
    • enough facilities present to optimize cluster infrastructure
  • Cluster infrastructure

    An area being considered as a DIZ has cluster infrastructure, which refers to:

    • capacity within an area to develop infrastructure that supports industrial growth within approved transportation and utility right-of ways
    • assignment of human resources for cluster infrastructure development
  • Harmonized permitting

    Participating municipalities in an area proposed for a DIZ:

    • align requirements of development permits
    • reduce regulatory overlap with other jurisdictions, and dependencies with municipal regulatory decision making
  • Environmental management

    DIZ proponents commit to zone-specific:

    • environmental assessments
    • topsoil management guidelines
    • air emissions requirements
    • water quality management
    • financial or human resources for implementing environmental management programs

The Industrial Heartland (PDF, 408 KB), northeast of Edmonton, is the first Designated Industrial Zone in Alberta. Its industrial zoned land extends into 5 different municipalities, including:

The Edmonton Metropolitan Region has grown into Canada's largest hydrocarbon processing region and is home to world-scale oil and gas refineries, and chemical and petrochemical facilities.

Regulatory streamlining

The intent of regulatory streamlining is to:

  • provide clear regulatory requirements for both new and existing facilities
  • provide certainty to investors in the zone
  • reduce approval processing times (the time it takes to renew Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA) approval in the zone will reduce from an average of 18 months to 6 months)
  • align municipal permitting requirements across partnering municipalities

Environmental outcomes

Environmental outcomes will be achieved through:

  • clear expectations for operators
  • improved understanding of environmental conditions
  • management of cumulative effects.

If necessary, new environmental requirements may be adopted to ensure environmental outcomes are achieved in the zone.

  • Air

    • Ambient air quality will be managed to achieve the Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards.
    • An operational policy for industrial emitters will provide regulatory certainty for existing facilities and new applicants.
    • The local air quality monitoring organization, the Fort Air Partnership, is updating their monitoring plan to policy requirements for the zone.
  • Land

    • An innovative topsoil conservation guideline was developed to ensure flexibility and sustainability of topsoil management in the region.
    • A zone-wide environmental and socio-economic assessment is being scoped to provide a common baseline of environmental information that will support decision making and streamline environmental assessment processes.
  • Water

    • Water quality will be managed to achieve the environmental objective of maintaining or improving water quality under the North Saskatchewan Region Surface Water Quality Management Framework.
    • Innovative management approaches will increase flexibility and collaboration in industrial wastewater management.
    • Municipalities are developing a Master Drainage Plan and wetlands assessment to streamline Water Act approvals, while ensuring that drainage issues are managed in the zone.

Cluster infrastructure

Industrial clusters create opportunities for facilities located in close proximity to share resources and infrastructure. This reduces costs and improves the economic and environmental performance of the cluster.

Cluster infrastructure initiatives focus on creating regional water supply infrastructure, shared wastewater treatment options and electricity solutions.

Economic impact

Combined with other government initiatives that support the petrochemical industry, such as the Alberta Petrochemicals Incentive Program and ongoing red tape reduction efforts, the Designated Industrial Zone has the potential to help attract billions of dollars in capital investment and support thousands of direct and indirect jobs by 2030.

According to Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Association, there is an opportunity to grow Alberta’s petrochemical sector (province-wide) by more than $30 billion in capital investment by 2030.

Participating partners

The Industrial Heartland Designated Industrial Zone is a collaboration of:

Resources

Operational policies

Supplemental information

Contact

To learn more about the Industrial Heartland Designated Industrial Zone, contact:

Email: [email protected]

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