Located just west of Edmonton, Parkland County is known for its vibrant, idyllic setting, offering residents, visitors, and businesses owners a mix of country charm, easy access to city amenities—and a booming industrial park.
“Acheson Industrial Park spans over 12,000 acres of industrial land and is located just west of Edmonton city limits,” explains Mark Edwards, director, Economic Diversification for Parkland County.
With close proximity to five major highway routes and access to CN’s main line, Acheson Industrial Park has significant advantages in transportation. Additionally, Acheson has extremely competitive land, tax, and operational advantages.
“Parkland County’s non-residential taxes are one of the lowest in the region and there are no business taxes,” Edwards notes.
“A key component of what Acheson has to offer is that business owners are able to purchase substantial parcels of serviced land for large scale business operations,” Roger Ward, president, Acheson Business Association (ABA) and CAO of Gwent Building Systems Ltd., says, “There is also a lack of congestion of road transportation.”
These advantages are why Acheson has seen so much recent growth.
“The Acheson Industrial Area has grown by more than 150 per cent in size during the last 15 years,” says Ward.
“Acheson has seen consistent and substantial growth,” Edwards agrees. “Large scale businesses, such as TLC Supply Chain (Save-On-Foods), Supreme Steel’s new head office, Western Star Trucks and Impact Auto have chosen to make Acheson their home. Additionally, Champion Petfoods is in the process of building their NorthStar® Kitchens here – the facility is scheduled to open in 2019.
“This growth has been driven by the economic advantages of land costs, taxes, etc., and also by the availability of fully serviced land that has excellent transportation access. The approved Area Structure Plan defines the land uses, which allow for a variety of medium industrial, commercial, and business industrial uses. This planning has created a blueprint for development.”
For developers concerned about land availability, Edwards stressed that this is not an issue in Acheson.
“Currently, Acheson has almost 1,000 acres that are under development or shovel-ready, plus another 2,000 development-ready acres,” Edwards said. “Land is available in various parcel sizes, from 100+ acres to 1-2 acres, and everything in between.”
The Acheson Industrial Area consists of 12,000 acres of prairie land, of which 8,000 acres are currently developable under the Acheson Industrial Area Structure Plan. To date, approximately 3,500 acres of land have been developed and serviced. The area is served by the Capital Region Utilities Board, including truck services for potable water and wastewater. While storm water is managed by Parkland County through a series of storm water retention ponds, drainage ditches and sewers discharge into Big Lake. The oversizing of services and construction of truck routes is funded through development levies.
However, as both Edwards and Ward have indicated, availability of land is only part of the equation. Transportation access is another part of why Acheson is so in-demand—and it also plays a role in how Acheson’s growth is taking shape.
“During [its 150-year period of growth],” Ward observes, “it has become noticeable that the new businesses are more distribution- and logistical services-related than they are associated with the energy industry. In part, this is due to the close links to the primary highways and the railway intermodal yards.”
Acheson is directly served by five major highways and several secondary highways. On the northern boundary running east and west is Yellowhead TransCanada Highway number 16, ultimately heading west to the Pacific Coast and east to the Maritimes. Turning south off Highway 16 is Highway 60, which runs to Highway 2, leading to the Edmonton International Airport, Calgary, and further in the United States. Also, running west from Edmonton through the centre of Acheson is Highway 16A, connecting with the City of Spruce Grove and the Town of Stony Plain and, further west, joining up with the TransCanada 16.
“Acheson also includes Highway 628, which runs east-west and will be the future Whitemud extension to Stony Plain, and Highway 44, which runs north. There are also a number of rail spurs in Acheson, and the CN Intermodal terminal is 10 minutes away,” Edwards adds.
“All of these are major transportation/trucking corridors,” Edwards stresses. “Acheson provides excellent transportation access to the north, south, east, and west, and it is a short distance from CN rail’s intermodal yard. This access, combined with low operating and development costs, have made Acheson an attractive option for business. In addition, there are complementary businesses that benefit from being located close to each other.”
Acheson’s desirability hasn’t gone unnoticed. Ward explains, “Easy access to the to the primary Alberta highway road network that serves Acheson has attracted a substantial number of firms to this industrial area. Regional food distribution centres, large and small logistics, transportation, equipment, oil industry supply companies, along with a soon-to-open animal food centre have made Acheson a key centre in their distribution chain. Along with these core businesses, there are a substantial number of support firms that have located in Acheson as well. The construction industry is represented through equipment dealers, material suppliers of aggregates, asphalt, and other building materials firms, as well as various contractors. A regional grain distribution and unit train loading facility are located off the main line of the CNR. Another industry that is notable for its substantial involvement with road transport is a lumber reload centre and a lumber re-manufacturing and exporting company.”
“Transportation, distribution and logistics, warehousing, manufacturing, oilfield services, value-added agriculture, construction, along with notable businesses like Entrec, Champion Petfoods, Impact Auto, Western Star Trucks, Sysco, TLC Supply Chain, Williams Scotsman, O’Hanlon Paving, Standard General, Manitoulin, Alta Link, SMS equipment, and Powell Canada,” Edwards exclaims, “Acheson’s consistent industry growth and potential makes it an important area for the region.”
“Next to the power generation industry, Acheson is the second largest tax base in Parkland County and is an import component of the Economic Diversification Strategy. It is home to nearly four hundred businesses and has a workforce of almost 10,000 employees.” Most of whom, Edwards notes, “live in the surrounding communities, such as Edmonton, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, St. Albert, and Devon.”
“The Acheson Industrial Area is a key employment hub for the region,” observes Edwards, and Ward agrees, noting that “The wide range of business operations that are not dominated by any one industry or business operation make the area attractive for both large and small businesses. This provides an opportunity for the smaller support businesses that are necessary for the support of bigger operations to grow.”
“It is also one of the largest transportation hubs in the Capital region, which is substantial in light of the fact that the area is less than 50 per cent developed,” Ward concludes.
Major transportation access, land availability, and a locus for industrial growth—Acheson’s growing importance to Parkland County and surrounding areas is becoming ever more apparent.