Summary of typical practices from 24 Canadian cities
If brownfields are an issue in your municipality, you’re not alone. Cities across the world are dealing with properties that are merely remnants of what they previously were – all with policies that tend to be piecemeal and responsive.
A researcher from Wisconsin reviewed the regulations in Canada on brownfield management and redevelopment in a 2006 paper entitled “Urban brownfields redevelopment in Canada: the role of local government.”
The researcher sent out a survey to 55 municipalities that have large manufacturing zones, meaning they are more likely to have brownfields. Just under half of the municipalities (24) responded to the survey, including Calgary and Edmonton.
Key insights from the study are:
- The common approach to brownfield redevelopment is selecting projects that offer the best return, whether in land value, real estate value or community benefits. As such, brownfield policies are interrelated to economic strategies of the municipalities.
- Even though there can be economic opportunities in brownfield redevelopment, few municipalities take a proactive approach. It is more common to respond to specific scenarios with policies and redevelopment plans than prepare for those scenarios.
- Not surprisingly, the biggest barrier to redevelopment is the cost of the investment.
Incentives for brownfield redevelopment
A new provincial bill is expanding property tax exemptions that can aid in the redevelopment of brownfields.
Bill 7 (which received royal assent on June 28, 2019) has the goal of helping “municipalities attract investment and development by giving them the power to offer stronger property tax incentives to business and industry.” These incentives can be used for brownfield developments to provide multi-year tax exemptions up to 15 years.