Overview

According to the Municipal Government Act, a brownfield property is a commercial or industrial property which is:

  • contaminated or possibly contaminated
  • vacant, derelict or underutilized
  • suitable for development or redevelopment

Impact

Brownfields can be found in rural municipalities to large cities. The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) published a 2014 Brownfield Impact Assessment Report (PDF, 300 KB).

This report states the most common location of brownfields is downtown or on main streets. This means they are highly visible and detract from community appeal and economic development.

Brownfields are found in:

  • downtown areas and main streets
  • other business areas
  • industrial zones
  • manufacturing districts
  • residential areas

They can:

  • drive away other activities
  • constrain development options
  • reduce the value of surrounding properties

Brownfield redevelopment

Benefits

Brownfield redevelopment provides numerous environmental, economic and social benefits, such as:

  • cleaning up contaminated sites reduces risks to human health and the environment
  • using existing developed spaces curbs urban sprawl and protects farmlands and green spaces
  • community revitalization increases neighbourhood pride and enhances quality of life for residents
  • redevelopment boosts the economy through:
    • new business opportunities
    • job creation
    • remediation technology innovation
    • increased property values and tax revenues

Alberta’s strategy

The Alberta government encourages brownfield redevelopment through supportive economic and regulatory measures.

Brownfield redevelopment working group

A working group was formed in 2012 to provide strategic recommendations on brownfield redevelopment. It was made up of representatives from:

  • government
  • municipalities
  • industry

Recommendations

The working group produced the report: Alberta Brownfield Redevelopment Practical Approaches to Achieve Productive Community Use (PDF, 493 KB).

The following recommendations from the report have been achieved:

  • city charters were signed with Edmonton and Calgary, encouraging sustainable land use and brownfield redevelopment
  • tax and bylaw changes to encourage brownfield redevelopment were implemented through the Municipal Government Act.
  • the tax and bylaw changes:
    • are in effect as of October 26, 2017
    • provide municipalities with the ability to implement tax deferrals
    • allow exemptions as an incentive for redevelopment
  • Alberta Environment and Parks hired a brownfield co-ordinator in November 2016
  • a Risk Management Plan Guide was released October 31, 2017, building on the:
    • Contaminated Sites Policy Framework (October 2014)
    • updated Alberta Soil and Groundwater Remediation Guidelines (February 2016)
  • The Remediation Regulation was amended by Order in Council in June 2018 and came into effect on January 1, 2019.