Actual Media

A not-for-profit organization is changing the brownfield landscape in Toronto`s Don Valley

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Courtesy of Actual Media

Looking out over the green meadow beyond the old Brick Works factory, it’s hard to imagine it as the foundry full of bricks it once was. This is a space in transition, a remediation in progress. There are no more bricks out here, but there are plenty inside the 16 buildings on the industrial pad. A prosperous brickyard from 1889 to 1989, the Don Valley Brick Works had become a raver’s haven of empty beer cans and graffiti.

Evergreen, a national charity with a mandate to bring nature back to cities, is remediating the Brick Works. The charity’s director, Geoff Cape, says the site is a designated brownfield. “But we’ve had the soil tested and it’s just slightly above what’s acceptable. That’s manageable.”

The soil should be clean enough to grow produce and plants in the outdoor and indoor gardens, some of which may be used at an on-site Jamie Kennedy restaurant. Other buildings will be converted into office space and a learning centre. Cape says Evergreen at the Brick Works is a project that will show policy-makers how a vacant industrial lot can become a selfsustaining cultural centre for Ontario. “We don’t want to be another government-subsidized heritage site,” says Cape. Evergreen wants to provide a valuable service to the environment and community without continuing to need funding, and with their unique business plan, they may do it.

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