Cochrane Brownfield Committee

In 1998 with less than 10 days before a public hearing on a proposed Remediation Plan (RP) and development plans, CEAC worked hard to bring together information and constructive criticism, based on the information presented in the RP. Research avenues included making use of member expertise in areas of geology and chemistry as well as extensive internet research. CEAC attended the public hearing and 5 of their members made presentations to the Town of Cochrane expressing their concern about issues ranging from remediation criteria to human health to development options for the Domtar site. CEAC had uncovered critical issues such as use of outdated soil quality guidelines for the remediation plan and no consideration of health risks associated with dust generated during remediation. One of the recommendations that CEAC made was that the issue of remediation and development of the Domtar site should be addressed through a brownfield development committee that would allow stakeholders the opportunity to openly discuss issues related to safe remediation and restoration of the Domtar site.

In October of 1998 the Town of Cochrane urged CEAC to approach the developer (Urbanex) about the possibility of resolving key issues in the RAP, through the formation of a brownfield development committee. CEAC undertook this task and in early November 1998 the initial meeting of the Cochrane Brownfield Development Committee took place. Attendees included a wide segment of the population and stakeholders including  Alberta Environment Protection, Calgary Regional Health Authority, the developer Urbanex, Conor Pacific (remediation company), council members and staff of the Town of Cochrane, CEAC and representatives from local businesses adjacent to the Domtar site. Over the next 6 months, the CBDC met on a regular basis, approximately  every 2-3 weeks and reviewed and discussed issues ranging from public health risks, remediation plans and technology, traffic, public involvement etc. In the end, the RAP was substantially modified, in part due to the diligence of the AEP and CRHA but also reflecting on-going input from members of the CBDC, and accepted in January 2000.

This represents the first time that such a brownfield committee approach has been used to aid development of a Canadian brownfield site. This resulted in large part from the research conducted and presented by CEAC as well as their steadfast attendance and participation in CBDC. This was a pivotal precedent. The intangible benefits of this approach include empowering citizens and allowing them to play a constructive role in the evolution of their community. Tangible benefits of such an approach are multiple. First, through the interactive format of the CBDC and extensive review, a vastly improved RAP was developed for remediation that ensured public health and safety.