International Peace Bridge

To give itself new opportunities and a new look, the Town of Fort Erie drafted a brownfield revitalization plan that offers developers tax and other incentives to clean up and redevelop more than 250 acres of vacant, abandoned, and possibly contaminated industrial sites.

The town, connected to Buffalo, New York, by the International Peace Bridge over the Niagara River, was once a bustling commercial centre, home to aircraft and chemical factories, steel plants and lumber yards. Now manufacturing has given way to a tourism and service economy, leaving the urban landscape studded with unsightly scenes of industrial dereliction. 

To rectify this, the town commissioned studies on brownfield remediation and the economic, environmental and social benefits that would flow from it. Then it adopted a plan that will not only provide financial incentives for private redevelopment but also encourage the town itself to lead the way by reclaiming and rebuilding brownfield sites it owns.

Results

Environmental Economic Social
  • Redevelopment tax breaks are tied to energy-efficient building standards

  • Brownfield remediation decontaminates soil, stops water pollution

  • $1.2 million increase in property tax revenue from redeveloped brownfields

  • 600 new jobs from cleanup and redevelopment work

  • Reclaimed brownfields reduce urban sprawl, provide space for new housing

  • Brownfield redevelopment creates more attractive, liveable neighbourhoods

Challenges

  • Convincing skeptical property owners and developers that tax and grant incentives are rich enough to make brownfield remediation and redevelopment profitable.
  • Convincing skeptical ratepayers that tax holidays and breaks for brownfield developers will generate higher tax revenue in the future.
  • Spurring development in a town with a limited economic base.

Lessons learned

  • Allow ample time to review draft reports from consultants to keep the process moving expeditiously.
  • Be prepared for pressure before the plan is finished from investors and sellers looking to know how remediation incentives might affect business deals.
  • Public information meetings help generate investor interest in brownfield cleanup work.

Resources

Partners and collaborators

Project Contact

David Heyworth
Senior Policy Planner
Fort Erie, ON
T. 905-871-1600 ext. 2504

2019 Federation of Canadian Municipalities