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Brownie Awards celebrate brownfield and remediation projects across Canada

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A number of significant brownfield remediation projects took the spotlight at the recent Brownie Awards, where award winners ranged from Whitehorse’s thermal conduction work at Marwell Tar Pit, to the successful financing partnerships surrounding the Randle Reef project in Ontario.

Founded in 2001 by the Canadian Urban Institute, the Brownie Awards are currently presented in partnership by the Canadian Brownfields Network and Actual Media. A jury decides annual awards in seven categories that span topics like legislation, marketing, and technical innovation in the field of remediation.

“The redevelopment of brownfields provides important economic and environmental opportunities to create cleaner, safer, and more socially vibrant communities,” said Christopher De Sousa, Brownie Awards jury chair and past president of the board of directors, at the Canadian Brownfields Network. “We’re proud to honour this year’s well-deserving award finalists, and to celebrate their outstanding achievements at this year’s Brownie Awards gala,” he added.

The Marwell Tar Pit Remediation project in Whitehorse was recognized at the Brownies for its sustainable remediation and technological innovation. The cost-effective environmental soil treatment is called enhanced thermal conduction, which involves heating the soil and causing the contamination to vaporize. The vapours are then captured and burned-off to meet air quality standards before the air is released. The site had been used as a disposal location for waste tar generated from a decommissioned Second World War oil refinery and later as an unpermitted dump site for liquid wastes remaining exposed until the early 1960s.

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The Randle Reef Contaminated Sediment Remediation Project in Hamilton, Ontario, was honoured at the awards event for its success in financing, risk management and partnerships. Brownies’ organizers said that the massive $139-million Randle Reef Remediation project was “an example of successful partnership and collaboration to move economic and ecological regeneration of a contaminated brownfield site forward.” The contaminated sediment remediation project in the Canadian Great Lakes had funding for it that “took shape through a shared vision” to regenerate the harbour and an agreement by multiple parties to contribute.

The Harrison Street Modular Housing Initiative in Toronto, a former police station, was celebrated at the Brownies for its alternative benefits from brownfield remediation. With known contaminants on the property and organizers wanting the project to go quickly, this brownfield development used modular construction techniques to build a three-storey building with multiple units for people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness.

The Historical North Vancouver Shipyards project in North Vancouver, B.C., was honoured for its development at the community scale. The shipyard suffered from metal and hydrocarbon contamination. The multi-year cleanup transformed the spot into a vibrant residential area with restaurants, cafes, shops, and public spaces that offer outdoor seating and year-round programming.

Video: Richards Complete Streets Blue-Green Infrastructure

The Richards Complete Streets project, Vancouver’s first example of a blue-green system, won for Best Small Project. The eight-block system uses rainwater tree trenches and permeable pavement alongside a separated bike lane. The system adds more than 100 new street trees that manage and treat 15 million litres of rainwater runoff annually, diverting 11 million litres of urban rainwater from the sewers each year. 

Environmental Remediation of the Turcot Site in Montreal won for Best Large Project. Some 3.2 million cubic metres of contaminated soil were remediated, while still allowing some 300,000 vehicles to flow on the street daily. The construction crew rebuilt four interchanges and 145 km of roadways, including bike paths creating additional space for public transit, pedestrian transportation, and green space.

Best overall project went to the Don Mouth Naturalization and Port Lands Flood Protection Project, a treatment technology evaluation program in Toronto that used and assessed 11 innovative technologies to remediate 356 hectares of contaminated land.

Monisha Nandi won Brownfielder of the Year. Brownies’ organizers said she is the environmental director at Kilmer Brownfield Management and a champion for brownfield redevelopment.

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