Land is a valuable resource with many competing uses, including agriculture, recreation, forestry, mining, housing, infrastructure, and industrial development. For this reason, industries, companies, and residents intending to develop or expand are subject to municipal, provincial, and federal policies and legislation. The legislation and approvals that apply depend on the type of project as well as its specific requirements and location. This helps ensure that Alberta’s limited land resources are used in a balanced and effective manner.
Complementary Area Structure Plan
The cornerstone for land use planning in the Heartland lies in the Complementary Area Structure Plan (CASP) developed for the region by the four original Heartland municipalities in 2001 – City of Fort Saskatchewan and Counties of Lamont, Strathcona, and Sturgeon. This CASP outlined the zone in which heavy industry could be located, provided a buffer or transition zone between heavy industry and the adjoining agricultural/residential regions, as well as identified key protected environmental zones (such as the river banks of the North Saskatchewan River).
While this plan served the Heartland and its residents well over the past decade, it has been determined that the CASP should be reviewed to ensure it is up to date and includes the most recent trends and strategies related to eco-industrial development. The first step in this review was completed in 2013 with a study comparing the standards for development in each of the five partner municipalities of Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Association. This study helped outline best practices for use as a model for the other municipalities. This study also helped outline any inconsistencies in development standards across the Heartland region.
Aligning with the Capital Region
Land use planning in the Heartland industrial area is also aligned with the Greater Edmonton region’s Capital Region Board. This agency was created in 2008 to coordinate the overall planning across the Edmonton region to ensure they are aligned with the long term growth forecasts and avoids conflicts across municipal boundaries.
Provincial Land Use Framework
At the provincial level, the Government of Alberta has implemented the Alberta Land Use Framework. The purpose of the Framework is to manage growth in balance with Alberta’s social and environmental goals. This Framework aims to look at land use planning holistically and include factors such as environmental impacts.
Under the Land Use Framework, regional plans are being developed that will consider the combined impact of activities on the land, air, water and biodiversity. Regional plans will integrate provincial energy, environment, water and other related policies at the regional level. As the regional plans are being developed, stakeholder and public consultation sessions will be held in that region so you can speak to government employees knowledgeable about regional planning. You will also have the opportunity to express your views via online or hardcopy workbooks.
The seven Regional Plans are at various stages of development. The North Saskatchewan Region is the third largest of the seven regions and includes Edmonton and Alberta’s Industrial Heartland. The North Saskatchewan Regional Plan is currently in the development stage, having completed public consultation and a Terms of Reference. More details on the regional plan and its progress can be viewed at landuse.alberta.ca.
The Lower Athabasca Regional Plan, which includes the city of Fort McMurray ,and South Saskatchewan Regional Plan are complete. These plans are a comprehensive and legally-binding roadmap that enhances the Alberta government’s environmental management, addresses growth pressures, and supports economic development.
For additional information on land use planning in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland, contact: