Toronto, Ontario, Monday February 10, 2003 - Today the National Round Table on Environment and Economy released its much anticipated report on a national strategy for brownfields redevelopment, entitled “Cleaning Up the Past, Building the Future.”

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario fully supports the proposed actions to promote brownfields redevelopment that are outlined in the NRTEE report, and urges the senior levels of government to work with communities to start the long process of cleaning up contaminated sites.

“The NRTEE’s brownfields report lays the foundation for brownfields redevelopment.  All that is needed now is the political will and cooperation amongst governments, investors, developers and communities to realize the vision outlined in this report”, said Ken Boshcoff, AMO President and Mayor of Thunder Bay. 

Of great importance to municipalities is that the proposed national strategy recognizes the importance of cleaning up sites where redevelopment will clearly realize a combination of social, public health and safety, environmental and economic benefits.

In particular, the proposed package of financial assistance would be welcomed in communities where there is limited market demand for redevelopment. Sites that are particularly challenging to clean up will continue to decay and pose real public safety and health threat to surrounding neighbourhoods unless financing in the form of grants and loans are made available to kick-start the clean-up process. 

“Municipalities, especially smaller urban centers, simply do not have the enormous financial resources required to address the legacy of their industrial past. Some of these sites pose real health and safety risk to residents, and must be a priority for clean-up,” said President Boshcoff.  

Also, the proposed package of tax relief measures which addresses issues such as liens,  and closing loop-holes in the Bankruptcy Act that contribute to the creation of “orphan sites” are practical recommendations that would have a tangible benefit to brownfields redevelopment.    

Formidable obstacles to brownfields redevelopment still exist. Municipalities are ready to embrace the spirit of the NRTEE recommendations by working cooperatively with both the federal and provincial governments to free up sites for clean-up and redevelopment.  Public health and safety are paramount and must come first.  

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) is a non-profit organization with member municipalities representing 98 per cent of Ontario’s population.  AMO supports and enhances strong and effective municipal government in Ontario and promotes the value of municipal government as a vital and essential component of Ontario and Canada’s political system.