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Calgary's Industrial Sector

Calgary has 11,300 hectares of developed industrial land. The businesses in Calgary’s industrial areas contribute to the city’s economy with up to $355 million annually in property and business tax contributions, and an assessment value of $25.5 billion for both property and busi​ness accounts. Calgary’s industrial areas support approximately 200,000 jobs, help to facilitate access to goods, and are diverse in nature, which contributes to economic stability.

Examples of Calgary’s industrial businesses include manufacturing and construction operations, warehouses, breweries, distilleries, freight yards, manufacturing or bottling plants, transportation and distribution companies, e-commerce, and more.

Calgary’s Industrial Sector at a glance

Calgary has a strong industrial sector that is more diverse than you may think. It boasts nearly 76 square kilometers of industrial-zoned land which represents approximately 13% of total city land (excluding Transportation Utility Corridors, Park/ Community/ Recreation Reserve/ Urban Nature/ City, Regional Infrastructure uses) which is equivalent to three times the size of Okotoks, Alberta. 

As of June 2018, nearly two-thirds of all industrial zoned land have an “Industrial - General” (I-G) designation that offers businesses flexibility of options for a wide range of light and medium general industrial uses, as well as some supporting commercial uses. Another 12% of industrial land is zoned for industrial commercial uses (I-C) and 7% for business oriented industrial uses (I-B) and the remaining lands are zoned for a mix of outdoor (I-O), heavy (I-H), redevelopment (I-R), and edge (I-E) district uses.

General rules for industrial land use districts as well as permitted and discretionary uses are outlined in the Calgary Land Use Bylaw 1P2007.

As with all non-residential properties, industrial properties generate more property tax revenue per square foot for The City relative to the residential property tax base. Property tax rates are set by Property Tax Bylaw 17M2018. For Calgary’s latest details, see the current property tax rates​.   

Like many other major cities, Calgary is facing pressures to accept non-industrial uses in industrial areas. This may include adding commercial, institutional or other uses to areas intended for industrial purposes. It is important to consider the potential implications of these pressures as they relate to the city’s transportation network, truck routes, goods movement, job diversity, and investment considerations.

Jobs and Economy

Calgary’s industrial sector attracts diverse businesses resulting in significant contributions to the job market and to the diversity of the city’s economy. Industrial lands in Calgary supported approximately 200,000 jobs in 2016, which equates to roughly 29% of all jobs in the City of Calgary (including the Calgary International Airport).

A review of the recent recession data confirms the strength and stability of industrial-sector jobs. Analysis from The City of Calgary’s 2011 and 2016 Civic Census and Place of Work Survey indicates that the City centre lost approximately 6,000 (3%) of its jobs between April 2011 and April 2016, while at the same time jobs in Calgary’s industrial areas grew by roughly 30,000 (20%). This is a testament to the strength and diversity of Calgary’s industrial sector.

Calgary's Transportation Network and other Advantages

People and Technology

Calgary has long been known as an oil and gas town but the city is diversifying and investing to support a thriving technology and innovation sector. According to research by Calgary Economic Development, Calgary is among the top five competitive tech talent markets in Canada, and boasts the country’s highest concentration of entrepreneurs and start-up companies per capita. It is home to six post-secondary institutions (University of Calgary, Mount Royal University, Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), Alberta College of Art & Design (ACAD), Bow Valley College and St. Mary’s University) that offer programs in technology, clean energy, manufacturing and other areas to align with market needs.

Investment has also been made to ensure the city’s highly efficient supply chain network is strengthened. Calgary’s investments in dark fiber optic communication networks have resulted in next-generation speed and enhanced service delivery in a digital economy. Connectivity is required in every sector – from energy, finance, real estate, transportation and logistics to manufacturing – ensuring that businesses are connected with fibre optic cable is a key competitive differentiator.

Transportation and the Inland Port

Calgary is truly a connected city. By air, rail or road, Calgary is a city that moves. It is central to the regional inland port for Western Canada and is integral to a distribution-driven industrial goods movement market that is diverse and resilient. The city’s geography, access to the national TransCanada highway systems and CanaMex corridor allows businesses to get goods to market and reach 16 million consumers in Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest by road in one day. The Calgary International Airport further facilitates the movement of goods and people, and transports 75% of the province’s air cargo shipments.

Calgary’s transportation and distribution sectors are a catalyst for many other industries including warehousing and logistics, autonomous vehicle testing, drone manufacturing, robotics, and others.

Calgary’s advantages of competitively priced industrial lands and critical infrastructure that supports connectivity and access to customers distinguish Calgary and the businesses that locate here.

Municipal Industrial Land Policy

The Municipal Development Plan (MDP) is Calgary’s 60 year vision for growth and development. In concert with the Calgary Transportation Plan (CTP), it strives to “create a globally competitive city that protects and enhances the key drivers of the economy and supports ongoing business investment and expansion while attracting a growing workforce.” Calgary is expected to grow by 1.3 million people over the next 60 years; planning the future of how Calgarians live and work is extremely important.

MDP policy states The City’s intent to:

  • preserve industrial lands from ongoing encroachment of non-industrial uses (Sec 2.1.1 o).
  • offer flexibility in industrial areas to support a variety of uses (both existing and future) required in industrial areas (Sec 3.7).
  • support employee intensive areas in locations next to the existing or planned Primary Transit Network-while supporting primarily industrial uses (Sec 3.7.2 c).

Land use policies help preserve core industrial areas for industrial uses, while minimizing the impact on non-industrial neighbours. They also attempt to optimize use of Calgary’s transportation network with higher intensity employment areas closer to transit nodes and road corridors.

There are five Industrial Area Structure Plans (ASP) that refine and implement The City's broader planning objectives contained in the MDP and CTP. These plans help to shape the physical environment with the goal to achieve a pattern of orderly, economical, compatible development in support of successful business and industrial sector growth. The industrial ASPs are for the Northeast, Shepard, Southeast 68 Street, Southeast and Stoney areas. For more information see the Community and Area Plans section of the Planning and Development Resource Library​.

Partnering with Industry

As of January 2016, The City and the Development Industry have collaborated on the Industry/City Work Plan focusing on actions to support growth in new communities, established areas and industrial areas. The Industrial Strategy Working Group aims to support industrial development through policy considerations, comprehensive long-term strategies, and by considering the impacts of the Off-site Levy Bylaw rates on industrial development.

Objectives of the Industrial Strategy Working Group include:

  • Identify strategies for continued support of industrial development.
  • Provide continued analysis of industrial land supply.
  • Monitor the impacts of the levy rate on industrial development and gather information to inform the next bylaw review.
  • Review potential policy impacts.

The Working Group provides input on numerous City initiatives including the Continuous Process Improvement work to simplify and increase efficiencies in the approval process from land use/outline plans to occupancy and development closeout. The Working Group is also engaged on Industrial Area Structure Plan reviews, and work around agriculture/agribusiness and goods movement. The collaboration between The City and Industry informs the current industrial sector needs and paves the way forward for a comprehensive strategy in support of Calgary’s industrial sector.

More Information

Partner Links

For more information contact:
Marlena Rogowska
Planner II
Calgary Growth Strategy ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​