“I was surprised” was the initial reaction from Nathan Richard when he reflected on being named the 2016 Brownfielder of the Year.
Richard, the project manager for brownfields for the City of Kingston, showed it on his face as he stepped on to the stage at the 2016 Brownie Awards, held in Toronto last November. “Like everybody else involved in these projects, I am part of a team, and I just happen to be the face of brownfields. But I get a lot of support from my colleagues,” said Richard as he accepted the award from 2015 winner Grant Walsom.
Brownfields a priority for Kingston
But the work Richard had done with his team in Kingston spoke for itself, making it abundantly clear why he would receive such an honour. Since taking over his role the fall of 2012, two city-owner brownfield sites turned municipal parks have been recognized with FCM Sustainable Communities Awards. That was, in part, due the the role Richard played in getting some failed tax sale properties “out on the street” and into the hands of developers that would remediate the land. That push was part of a City of Kingston initiative that made brownfield redevelopment one of six strategic priorities for the community.
Kingston, as Richard explained, is much like many other communities across Canada, with many brownfield sites still in need of remediation and redevelopment. But he cited one particular factor that is making it easier for some of Kingston’s priority brownfield projects.
“Major industrial operations on waterfront properties that were at the time out of town are now considered part of the core of the city,” Richard said. “In order to get a brownfield project to be successful, the developer has to come in with a vision of a project that is going to have a tax increment that is going to be able to pay back the brownfield costs. So I think that the market is allowing developers to come in to get these [multi-storey] projects to be successful in the market here. That makes a big difference.”
A strong team with a drive to develop brownfield sites is imperative for moving forward. And Kingston is living proof of what the right team and the right plan can do. But it takes a leader to execute that plan, and that’s why Richard was an obvious choice for the 2016 Brownfielder of the Year.
If you know of a project or individual that should be honoured as part of the 2017 edition of the Brownie Awards, visit brownieawards.ca to submit a nomination. Nominations are open until September 15th.
The 2017 Brownie Awards will be held on Wednesday, November 22 at the Delta Toronto Hotel. To purchase tickets and tables for you and your team, visit brownieawards.ca.