Councillors OK $$ for co.'s to clean up/develop contaminated lands

City hall's finance committee made quick work on Tuesday approving millions of dollars in grants to developers to clean up contaminated properties for new hotels, condos or other developments.

In total, three grants were approved, totalling up to $5.5 million dollars to clean up the lands known as brownfields. Councillors on the committee did not debate the issue and no questions were asked. The companies, which in this case include projects in the Byward Market spearheaded by Claridge Homes and Cadillac Fairview, get the funds via tax rebates. When the projects are completed, the city will collect millions of dollars in new property taxes.

Mayor Jim Watson said, for the most part, the program works.

"The intent is to try and get some of these brownfields that are very difficult to develop because of the cost of removing contaminated soil off the planning stages and actually getting shovels in the ground. So from that perspective it is working," he said. "Can we modify it to make sure there is a quicker return on taxpayer's investment? I think we could probably do that."

The costs to clean up contaminated soil or groundwater are tallied and developers can get up to 50% of the funds from the city via this initiative. Full city council gets the final nod of approval February 12.

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