On October 23, Eric Pringle travelled to Toronto to attend and present at the 2013 Federation of Canadian Municipalities Conference, which included a full-day Brownfield Bootcamp. Eric co-chaired the session, Make or Break: A developer’s considerations in brownfield redevelopment, with David Harper of Kilmer Brownfield Equity Fund. Eric’s presentation, Walk in the Developer’s Shoes (or at least beside them), focused on the many brownfield success stories Hemmera has helped script over the years. Eric showcased Hemmera’s many SAR projects, including the Davie Community Garden and SOLEfood Farms with the City of Vancouver. He also discussed smaller-scale brownfields, such as the service station sites that Hemmera has helped remediate in Vancouver and Calgary, as well as other brownfield sites in Vancouver, Richmond, North Vancouver, and income properties in Calgary. Eric then focused on large-scale brownfield projects, showcasing the work Hemmera has done with the Squamish Oceanfront Development Corporation (SODC) to successfully remediate approximately 60 acres of upland and 40 acres of water lots following decades of heavy industrial use. Eric’s presentation also focused on liability transfer issues, design charettes in Nanaimo, Vanderhoof, Burns Lake, Mackenzie, and Smithers, and the progress made in BC in the treatment and redevelopment of brownfield sites.
In addition to sharing his and Hemmera’s experience in brownfield remediation, Eric provided insight into the key ingredients for successful redevelopment of brownfield sites. The municipality is the key beneficiary, Eric pointed out in his presentation, and successful projects like SODC require consideration of all stakeholders, especially developers, while ensuring redevelopment plans include environmental and social benefits. Because contemporary brownfield projects are now integrating remediation with redevelopment, Eric advised municipal managers to let provincial and federal regulators set the requirements for remediation and clean-up, while focusing on the greater vision for the brownfield properties being redeveloped. Environmental remediation is no longer viewed as the major barrier in most cases, Eric reported, and provincial and municipal governments must share both opportunities and potential liability with private-sector redevelopment partners throughout the remediation process and lifecycle. Eric also encouraged municipal managers to be flexible in considering potential redevelopments of brownfield sites, such as mixed-use and higher-density proposal, which ultimately result in more taxes and revenue for municipalities. Providing incentives is key to project success, Eric explained, citing examples such as revitalizing tax incentives, waiving development cost charges, providing off-site sewer and water upgrades that can be recovered later through increased taxes, and more intensive land use on properties with development potential.
Later on in the conference, Eric also presented the Canadian Urban Institute’s Brownie Award for best overall project to CIBC Pan Am and Parapan Am Athlete’s Village and the Canary District from Toronto, a project that supported public policies while exemplifying superior performance and excellence in high quality urban design and public space. Eric also took the opportunity to announce Hemmera’s move into eastern Canada and the plan to open a corporate office in Toronto.