February 2011

Message from the Executive Director

 

Happy New Year everyone, and welcome to our first issue of 2011.  This year marks the 30th anniversary of the industrial association (includes the former Fort Saskatchewan Regional Industrial Association and NCIA) in your community.  Throughout the year, we will be highlighting some historical information about industry in the region...stay tuned for that.

2011 is going to be another busy year for NCIA, member companies and our partners as we move forward on many key initiatives that began over the past couple of years.  Those include:

            • Working with the multi-stakeholder regional forums on the implementation of the cumulative effects frameworks developed under the regional planning processes, with the key focus for 2011 being:
              1. Water Management Framework for the Capital Region
              2. Air Quality Management Framework for the Capital Region
              3. Integrated Monitoring and Reporting
            • Working with the Energy Resources Conservation Board to complete and implement the Regional Noise Management Plan.
            • Working with our partner organizations, Fort Air Partnership and Life In the Heartland, to ensure timely communication is provided to all our key stakeholders on activities that are occurring in the Industrial Heartland this year.

I would also like to welcome Cal Towns, Executive Director for the Northeast Region Community Awareness Emergency Response (NR CAER), who takes over as the chair of Life In The Heartland for 2011, as my term ended in December 2010.  Life In The Heartland is an important communication tool for all of our key stakeholders and NCIA is particularly excited to see that the number of visits to the Life In The Heartland website has increased steadily since its launch last year.

Have a great year,

Laurie....

 

 

 

 

Supply of bitumen for Fort Saskatchewan-area project assured under agreement with province

North West Upgrading has been a valuable member of NCIA since 2006, and the fruit of its labour was recently awarded by an agreement with the Alberta Government to process barrels of bitumen under its bitumen royalty-in-kind (BRIK) initiative.

“This is good news for the region on many fronts,” comments Laurie Danielson, Executive Director of the NCIA. “Regionally, this project could see thousands of people employed over a long period of time if all three phases of the project are built out as planned. And it’s good for our province as this moves us closer to the stated desire of having two-thirds of extracted bitumen upgraded in Alberta.”

NCIA looks forward to continuing to work with North West Upgrading on issues that are of great importance to Alberta's Industrial Heartland.

To learn more, click here.

 

History of Industry in the Region: Did you know?

 

Sherritt International is considered to be the first industry company that officially moved into Alberta's Industrial Heartland when it completed its construction on the then called, Sherritt Gordon Mines Ltd. in 1954, a new, world-scale nitrogen fertilizer plant in Fort Saskatchewan. It was built close to abundant natural gas supplies needed for the ammonia leach process.

 

Understanding what affects our region’s air quality

The air we breathe is vital to our very survival.  The quality of the air we breathe is vital to our health.  Although this is fundamentally basic, the concept of air quality, and how it is affected, is complex and intricate.  No one particular factor can be pinpointed as solely impacting air quality in our region.  Air quality is affected by a number of sources, sometimes working in concert, both from within our region and from outside our geographic boundaries. Surprisingly, it’s not just human-made emitters that are largely to blame. 

When we think of factors negatively affecting air quality, automotive or industrial emissions tend to be top of mind.  However, there are a whole host of other pressures that affect air quality such as geographic topography (mountains, valleys, forests), weather and wind direction, transboundary emissions (substances carried over from areas outside of the Capital Region) and the natural environment. Hence, it is important to look at air quality within the context of the Capital Region as a whole, as opposed to just within the Industrial Heartland.

Emissions come from a variety of sources, too. They may be released into the air as a result of human activity or natural processes. Typically, emissions are categorized into four groups: point sources, mobile sources, natural sources and area sources.  Point sources tend to be stationary, industrial facilities such as factories and power plants. Mobile sources, on the other hand, are those involving transportation (airplanes, cars, trucks, etc).  Natural sources are those that naturally occur in the environment such as from wildfires, wildlife, trees and plants and wetlands. Lastly, area sources are those from smaller and lighter commercial or industrial activities (e.g., drycleaners) and residential sources (e.g., pesticide use, residential wood use, etc).  Municipalities, commercial, residential, industrial, transportation, individual homes and transboundary sources all play a role. 

 

Despite common beliefs and public perceptions, industry is actually a relatively small emitter across the spectrum of sources, while municipalities tend to be one of the largest.

Factors affecting air quality within the Capital Region, either from human-made or natural emitters, are unique to other regions as well.   It is important, therefore, that as members of the Capital Region, we aim to take responsibility for how we may contribute to emissions and affect air quality, because not only do we operate and work in this region, we are also residents raising our families here. 

The NCIA and its member companies share these concerns also. Together, we are working with the Alberta government and other stakeholders on developing an Air Management Framework for the Capital Region where it will move the long-standing system of regulating individual facility emissions, to regulating on a regional basis.  It considers the context of several current policies (regional, provincial and national) and will build upon current achievements in air quality monitoring and management and leading incentive and awareness programs.

 

Managing regional growth pressures with a long-term planning horizon – the Alberta Land-use Framework and what it means for industry

 

Over the last decade, Alberta has seen unprecedented growth. In particular, the Capital and Lower Athabasca regions have experienced exponential economic and population growth, and have emerged as significant economic drivers for not only Alberta but also for Canada. While the economic landscape has softened since 2007, the Capital Region still anticipates reaching population figures of over 1.7 million by 2043, while the Lower Athabasca (Fort McMurray and area) Region’s population alone is projected to increase to as much as 303,000 by 2045. Given this rate of growth, the Alberta government has been working on a number of initiatives for managing current and future growth pressures.  This work, in part, has taken shape in the form of the Alberta Land-use Framework, which was first released in December 2008.

The Framework divides the province into seven regions. Each region will have a multi-stakeholder Regional Advisory Council (RAC) for providing advice to the government regarding the development of regional plans in four key areas: economic growth, land conservation, regional air and water thresholds and human development. Each regional plan will establish a vision and objectives while setting the stage for future decision-making over a 50-year timeframe that reflects the uniqueness and priorities of the region from within a provincial policy context. Municipalities as well as provincial government departments and agencies will be required to comply with the directions in the regional plans.

In conjunction with the development of the Alberta Land-use Framework, the provincial government also established the Capital Region Board in 2008 to ensure that future regional development in the Greater Edmonton and Capital Region unfolds in a coordinated manner through its Capital Region Growth Plan: Growing Forward.

 

In 2010, the government began implementing the Alberta Land-use Framework, with the Lower Athabasca being the first of the seven identified regions, to be completed, followed by the South Saskatchewan Region. The North Saskatchewan Regional Plan, in which the Industrial Heartland and the Capital Region is a part of, will begin once the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan is completed. The significance of the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan is that it will largely inform the North Saskatchewan Regional Plan. 

The NCIA and its member companies are eager to work together with all levels of government on these important initiatives. NCIA also believes in the need to strike the right balance between protecting and preserving the environment while at the same time ensuring a political and economic climate that attracts and supports investment. “It’s not an easy balance to strike,” said Laurie Danielson, Executive Director of NCIA.  “And we appreciate all of the competing factors that must be taken into account in the planning and management of regional growth and land-use.”

Recently, NCIA collaborated with provincial and local governments and utilities companies to develop a water management framework for the Industrial Heartland and the Capital Region that promotes water conservation and increased usage of reclaimed or recycled water. While it is important to help promote the sustainability of our resources and environmental health, it is also imperative to make every effort to ensure that any new limits or technological requirements for reducing environmental impacts are sought within a context and timeframe that is reasonable, and takes into account the potential for substantial impact on industry as a result.  The challenges we all face in the management of this province’s natural resources and growth are substantive but not without solutions—which undoubtedly will be found through working together as partners.

 

Meet Yolanta Leszczynski, Shell  Manufacturing’s regulatory affairs / sustainable development coordinator

To run a marathon you need to exercise a considerable amount of patience, as you pace yourself for a finish line that could be miles and miles down the road.

Yolanta Leszczynski regularly uses that approach – both professionally and in her personal life. A runner who’s competed in many marathons, she is also a member of NCIA’s Environment Committee, working with government agencies to develop policy that typically takes several years to produce results.

A regulatory affairs / sustainable development coordinator at Shell Scotford’s Refinery and Chemicals plant, Leszczynski has been an active Environment Committee member for more than 10 years, playing a key role in the development of the Regional Ground Water Network and the Regional Noise Monitoring Framework. Both are important policies that required plenty of collaboration with Alberta Environment and the Energy Resources Conservation Board.

And neither happened overnight.

“Often, we don’t see the fruits of our labour for years,” she says. “It does take time.”

Still, Leszczynski says both policies are critical because of their regional reach, as well as the involvement of each and every NCIA member.

“They are important because not one company is solely responsible for environmental quality in the region. All of us have a contribution to make,” Leszczynski explains.  “The committee and government were able to create a place where we look at best practices, acknowledge corporate responsibility to be a part of the solution, and being held accountable by the collective to put plans in place.”

The Regional Noise Monitoring Framework, for example, saw a marked change in how industry addressed noise. In the past, each company was responsible for what a neighbour would hear. Today, under the framework, one company cannot be held responsible for the cumulative effect of noise in the region; industry as a group needs to work towards a reduction.

“We are establishing best practices for noise mitigation,” says Leszczynski. “We are setting the bar at a different place.”

To do that, companies are working diligently to reduce noise onsite to protect workers, and if they are able to do that “we’re going to create the greatest impact offsite,” she adds.

The work of NCIA’s environment committee is getting noticed, as its members have been approached to present at public forums and conferences. Through NCIA, Leszczynski says, the region has some of the best practices anywhere and is truly ahead of most communities.

A Shell employee since 1988 who also spent seven years working for the government, Leszczynski stays active with her work on NCIA and as industry representative and treasurer of Fort Air Partnership. In all of her committee work the St. Albert resident has found stakeholder engagement to be a growing interest – one that she hopes to further develop.

“The idea of getting people to come together to better understand what the issues are is something I have a real passion for.”