Remediation for brownfields, many that once were used for commercial ventures and are now sitting vacant waiting to be redeveloped, is about to get a shot in the arm. The city of Regina could be the first to take advantage of a new federally funded program put together by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. The FMC is going to chip in $150 million to help these brownfield sites get environmental clean up so they can be used once more.
The Green Municipal Fund was established through a $550 million grant from the Government of Canada. The Brownfields Program is going to use $150 million of this fund. How the program will work and how the remaining funds will be distributed is still unclear. Regina's FCM representative, Councilor Mike O'Donnell, took part in the process by attending a conference call that helped establish the rules and guidelines presented at FMC'S annual conference in Vancouver on June 3rd.
The allocations aren't enough to clean up every brownfield in Canada, but with the help of GMF funds being distributed on a competitive basis, the FMC can stretch the money a bit further than may be expected.
Brownfields often stay undeveloped for many different reasons. Sometimes the lots change hands several times with no developmental changes whatsoever. There is also the subject of contamination which poses expensive clean up issues.
A few years ago the Environmental Ministry made changes to their guidelines allowing companies to transfer the responsibility of brownfield remediation when the land was sold. This was an attempt to help promote redevelopment of these parcels.
With those changes and the doubling of property values in Regina in recent years, O'Donnell hopes more private owners will take on remediation without relying on incentives.
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