Traces of gasoline have been found in the soil at the former Brandon Inn site following an environmental assessment.
The City of Brandon will now seek the advice of Manitoba Conservation to determine if remediation is necessary before property redevelopment.
"When Manitoba Conservation comes back and advises us as to whether or not we need to actually come up with a formal strategy for cleaning it, or if it’s OK the way it is, then we’ll be making that decision," said Ted Snure, the city’s general manager of development services.
Snure wouldn’t provide specific details of the Phase II environmental assessment, as it has not yet been presented to city council. He said once Manitoba Conservation provides a response, the department will submit a report to council.
The property at the corner of Ninth Street and Princess Avenue is now a vacant lot, but was once the Brandon Inn and the Brandon Real Estate Board building. The property previously housed a gas station, a heating oil storage facility, as well as a hide-tanning facility.
"The impact that was found was from the service station storage tanks," Snure said.
Environmental remediation could range from venting soil to soil removal, he said.
"We’ll work with Manitoba Conservation to ensure that the site is ready for future development."
Braden Pilling, downtown development specialist with Renaissance Brandon, said the hope is that the environmental issues are minimal.
"But if it’s not, we’ll just have to work together to find solutions, because there’s no way we want this to become a park," he said. "Ultimately this is going to be a redeveloped project of some sort, that’s what has to happen on that piece."
Pilling said the most challenging part about this process is losing control of timing through a third party.
"I don’t really have any idea how long that (Manitoba Conservation) process is going to take," he said.
Completing the environmental assessment is a major step forward in planning for the property, he added.
"Developers aren’t going commit to something of that potential magnitude without some sort of assurance of what’s going on there," he said. "So now at least we’ve made that progress."
Renaissance Brandon could work on marketing the site to developers while the remediation process is being completed, Pilling said.
"Seeing as we do not have a project ready to go, we’re OK because we’ve still got lots of work to do to get to that stage," he said. "At least we can deal with this simultaneously as we get ready to prepare the site to get a redevelopment project on there."
Pilling said working through this property’s environmental issues will help Renaissance Brandon be a leader with similar projects in the future.
"We’ll demonstrate what needs to be done to clean up these sites and take blighted properties and turn them into new opportunities downtown," he said.
Renaissance Brandon is still working through the request for proposals that was issued last year. A consultant was given a number of options for the property, including entertainment, recreation, hotel, residential and commercial.
"We wanted them to look at all of those … to identify where the best opportunity for us to capitalize on lies with this property," he said.
"This is one of the most key properties in the downtown, so that’s why we’re taking that time to make sure we’re going to redevelop what makes the most sense for downtown but also the City of Brandon."
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