The spreading credit crisis will inevitably have a significant impact on brownfields redevelopment in Canada. Softer real estate markets and lower industrial profits reduce the potential economic value of contaminated sites. Tougher credit and higher borrowing costs restrict the availability of capital for the capital intensive process of brownfield acquisition and remediation. Meanwhile, regulatory and civil liability standards for contaminated sites continue to grow stricter, increasing the time and cost required to achieve successful remediation.
In Ontario, the Ministry of the Environment continues to promise a new, stricter set of brownfield cleanup standards, to come into effect over the next year or two. The standards will also make brownfield clean-ups more difficult, and will force far more sites into the expensive, time-consuming and uncertain process of risk assessment.