A business park tailored for biochemical startups in Sarnia’s Chemical Valley is trying to make it easier for companies to take the leap.
For about a year – since after bio-based chemical producer Origin Materials set up shop in 2018 – synthetic rubber producer Arlanxeo has been working on a plan to rezone 60.6 hectares of its property, allowing the company to parcel sections into more manageable chunks of serviced land, accessible via an internal road network, said Kelly Vader, an environmental planner with B.M. Ross and Associates.
The company is representing Arlanxeo in its rezoning and official plan amendment bid, coming to city council Monday for consideration.
“It was actually the city that suggested we do this,” said Vader, noting previous severances made for Origin and the former BioAmber plant – now LCY Biosciences – were done on their own.
“We were going back to the city multiple times and they suggested we look at a plan of subdivision approach so we didn’t have to keep going back,” she said.
The approach also removes the uncertainty, amid potential appeals, and drag and delays for companies going through the planning process, she said.
The submission notes rezoning would create 13 blocks for development on a little more than one-third the land up for consideration.
The rest would be used for infrastructure, Arlanxeo’s internal road network, internal wastewater processing, which city officials said will eventually connect to Sarnia’s system, and other company purposes.
There are companies interested and ready to build at the Arlanxeo Bio-Industrial Park, Vader said.
“That’s my understanding from the representative that we’ve been dealing with.”
Parcels would be sold to companies that would then have easements to use the road network and services via Arlanxeo, she said, noting reusing the largely vacant site that historically housed various chemical facilities is good land use.
Getting as much bureaucracy out of the way up front makes sense, Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said, noting the park and an adjacent TransAlta Bluewater Energy Park are prime locations for startup industrial projects in Sarnia, including companies developing at the Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park.
“Especially if they’re going from a pilot to a startup plant, (companies generally) want to be able to move as quickly as possible,” Bradley said, “so it makes sense just to get as much of this done now.”
The mayor noted at least a dozen pilot projects are coming down the pike at the research park.
“Some are going to get to maturation, and when they do that’s the location that we would be pointing them to,” he said.
Stephen Thompson with the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership agreed.
“It’s a positive step, and it’s definitely a site that is one of the premier redevelopment sites we have within the Sarnia-Lambton area, and certainly is generating lots of interest from companies that are looking for sites like that,” he said.