An excavator and truck remediating the soil of the Brantford Brownfield on a sunny winter’s day
DURATION OF PROJECT: 2015–ongoing

Having contributed to Canada’s industrial output for over a century, a 20-hectare site a kilometre southeast of downtown Brantford, ON, has found new purpose. 

In 2015, the City of Brantford launched a two-year cleanup of a major brownfield site—the culmination of years of preparation. 

The Greenwich Mohawk brownfield is made up of three adjacent properties spanning just over 20 hectares in an urban area with many residents living nearby. From the late 19th century on, the properties were home to several industrial farm equipment manufacturers, all of which were closed by the late 1980s. Over time, the properties deteriorated significantly.

Beginning in 2002, the City of Brantford commissioned several remediation studies to assess the environmental conditions of the site. The studies confirmed extensive contamination to the site, including gas, diesel, oil, heavy metals and other chemicals, as well as structural debris and underground storage tanks. 

Map of Ontario featuring Brantford

The issue of ownership was initially difficult as the site sat abandoned for many years. Legislation also needed to be changed to allow liens and tax arrears to be forgiven by the federal and provincial governments. By 2007, however, the city had acquired all three properties and after much advocacy by community members and the municipality, federal and provincial funding was secured for the massive remediation project. 

To avoid the environmental and social costs of conventional remediation (removal, offsite disposal and replacement of huge amounts of soil), the city explored other options. Several onsite methods were tested to reduce costs and greenhouse gases by cleaning and reusing soil in place. 

Developing an appropriate plan to restore the lands to residential and parkland standards took several years, but once the city proceeded to full-scale remediation in 2015, it moved very quickly. In two short years, 148,900 cubic metres of contaminated soil were excavated. The majority—73 percent—was treated onsite and reused, and only 27 percent was disposed of offsite. In addition, 120,000 litres of oil were skimmed from the groundwater. 
 

Results

20 hectares

of land remediated

148,900 cubic metres

of soil excavated

120,000 litres

of oil removed from groundwater

The community supported the project, even when the large residential neighbourhood next to the site experienced odours from diesel fumes in the summer. The city paused the project for four months to address and resolve the odour concerns. Even with the resulting delays and unexpected costs, the city was still able to meet its deadline of spring 2017 for completion of the cleanup and finished the project $2 million under budget at $40.8 million.

Thanks to the leadership of municipal councillors, the efforts of city staff and the support of community members, the Greenwich Mohawk land is now ready to fulfill its potential to stimulate the revitalization of the entire Mohawk Lake District. 
 

This project is a formidable example of all levels of government and the community working together to bring about positive environmental, economic and sustainable land use outcomes. The successful completion of this project has now set the stage for the exciting redevelopment of these lands and the revitalization of an entire neighbourhood." 

–Kevin Davis, Mayor, City of Brantford

© 2021 Federation of Canadian Municipalities