Trying to Smart-In-Up and Cleanup Our Act by Linking Regional Growth Planning, Brownfields Remediation, and Urban Infill in Southern Ontario Cities
journal contributionposted on 2021-05-21, 17:16 authored by Christopher De Sousa
The reuse of brownfields as locations for urban intensification has become a core strategy in government sustainability efforts aimed at remediating pollution, curbing sprawl and prioritizing renewal, regeneration, and retrofitting. In Ontario, Canada’s most populous, industrialized, and brownfield-laden province, a suite of progressive policies and programs have been introduced to not only facilitate the assessment and remediation of the brownfields supply, but to also steer development demand away from peripheral greenfields and towards urban brownfields in a manner that considers a wider regional perspective. This article examines the character and extent of brownfields infill development that has taken place in three Ontario cities (Toronto, Waterloo, and Kingston) since the provincial policy shift in the early 2000s. Using property assessment data and cleanup records, the research finds that redevelopment activity has been extensive in both scale and character, particularly in Toronto where the real estate market has been strong. While the results are promising in terms of government efforts to promote smarter growth that builds “in and up” instead of out, they also reveal that government could be doing more to facilitate redevelopment and influence its sustainability character, particularly in weaker markets.