The Brownfield Opportunity

It is estimated that there are between 30,000 and 100,000 brownfield sites in Canada. The Fund was established in response to significant changes which have occurred in Canada that have created a new perspective for investment in brownfield redevelopment.


Brownfields are abandoned, idled or underused industrial and commercial properties where redevelopment has been complicated by environmental contamination. It is estimated that there are between 30,000 and 100,000 brownfield sites in Canada.

Brownfields are a legacy of industrialization in Canada and can be found in every major urban area. There are often complex stakeholder issues associated with these sites. As a result, many sites have sat idle, neglected or underutilized for many years. These brownfields represent a social, environmental and economic liability to those communities in which they are found.

Promoting the clean-up and redevelopment of brownfields has become a focus of all three levels of government in Canada. The redevelopment of brownfields has also become an important component of the movement toward sustainable development in Canada.


Significant changes have occurred recently in Canada that have created a new outlook for brownfield redevelopment—the Brownfield Opportunity.

The Brownfield Opportunity has been driven by several factors:

  • legislative reform limiting environmental liability
  • planning reforms curbing urban sprawl and promoting urban intensification and sustainable growth
  • the availability of specialized environmental insurance products to manage risks
  • stricter corporate disclosure rules affecting corporate brownfield policies
  • the proliferation of municipalities offering incentives for brownfield redevelopment through the creation of Community Improvement Plans