October 28, 2002

Awards honour achievements in brownfields cleanup, redevelopment

New approaches and strategies for assessing, cleaning up and redeveloping contaminated former industrial properties known as brownfields were recognized at the Canadian Urban Institute's recent presentation of its second annual Brownie awards (see also ELW October 21).

The Haven Group, an Ottawa consulting firm, received an award in the technical solutions/green design category for its project titled "Estimating Residential Development Potential for Sustainable Communities." The company has designed an easy-to-use computer model which can be used to help establish a sound planning basis for brownfield site development proposals.

In a collaboration with Minto Developments and the city of Ottawa, Haven used its model to help create a profile for residential development on a 19-acre site in Ottawa's Hunt Club neighbourhood. As a result, the company won support for a more sustainable solution for the site, favouring brownfield redevelopment over greenfield expansion.

The Brownie award for policy and program development went to the city of Guelph for its brownfield strategy, designed to provide a homegrown solution to deal with more than 175 brownfield sites within its boundaries.

The city views these sites as an underutilized resource and 18 months ago committed staff and resources to developing the strategy as its contribution to Ontario's SmartGrowth initiative. In partnership with local stakeholders, Guelph has created a database, addressed financial issues, set standards, initiated a strategy for marketing and promotion, and is monitoring the results.

Aon Reed Stenhouse received an award in the capital financing and risk management category, which acknowleges the achievements of private sector firms in overcoming financial obstacles, obtaining capital or resolving risk management issues so that brownfield redevelopment projects can proceed. The awards committee concluded that by committing its substantial corporate resources to risk management issues and demonstrating its willingness to work with stakeholders to resolve liability issues, Aon Reed is sending an important signal to the private sector that environmental liability in brownfield redevelopment can be managed.

In addition to naming Canada Lands Company the winner of the best overall project award for its Moncton Properties project, the Institute presented Brownies to: Concord Adex Development in the best large project category for its CityPlace project in Toronto; the city of Thorold in the small/medium project category for its Thorold city core revitalization project; and Equifund Corporation in the best heritage project category for its Yong-Summerhill project in Toronto.

Finally, the Brownie for individual achievement was presented to Brian Villemaire of Royal LePage Commercial, in Mississauga, Ont. The selection committee commended his work in promoting awareness of the challenges and benefits associated with developing brownfields, his success in brokering brownfield redevelopment projects, and his voluntary contribution of his expertise to communities beyond the immediate scope of his commercial real estate practice.

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