The Real Estate Foundation thanks all the nominees for their excellent work in support of more sustainable land use across the province. The judges selected nine finalist projects initiated by non-profit, private, and public sector organizations to be profiled at the gala. The winner in each category was announced from the podium.

Land Champion

Mr. Richard Hankin

During his 25 years as Manager of the Greater Vancouver Regional District (now Metro Vancouver) parks department, Rick spearheaded the expansion of the regional parks system, creating 25 new parks and greenways. In additon, he also initiated the Parks Partnership Program, designed to foster shared decision-making and park activities with community groups. Balancing vision with pragmatism, Rick helped build a world-class system of regional parks that has enriched the greater Vancouver area with outdoor recreation, wildlife habitat, cultural and natural heritage.

Non-Profit Sector

Winner: SOLEfood Farm - SOLEfood Farm, an initiative of Cultivate Canada

The Vancouver organization grows high quality food on urban brownfields and vacant inner city lots. They are proving a model of sustainable agriculture that engages local neighbourhoods and improves community food security, while providing meaningful employment for residents of the Downtown Eastside. SOLEfood’s scalable model addresses land use obstacles to producing significant amounts of food in cities: contaminated soils, paved land, and property that is often too valuable for developers or landowners to devote to a farm. In our four years of operation SOLEfood Farm has converted four acres of urban brownfields and vacant parking lots into productive farm sites and provided jobs for people who face systemic barriers to accessing and maintaining traditional employment.

Pembroke Mews Affordable Workforce Housing - Greater Victoria Housing Society

With a lack of affordable housing identified by employers as one of the main barriers to hiring, the Greater Victoria Housing Society partnered with Knappett Projects Inc. to develop the Pembroke Mews affordable workplace housing project, which provides 25 units of low-rental housing to lower income residents in Victoria. The project’s strong collaboration with various community groups as well as focus groups within the community both pre- and post-occupancy, allowed for this project to inform future work of the same type. The result is a repurposed building that provides affordable housing for young people at the entry level of their careers, allowing them to focus on and advance their training and employment.

The Community Greenhouse - Groundswell Network Society

Built on vacant, disturbed land adjacent to (and donated by) David Thompson Secondary School, the Groundswell Network Society community greenhouse is the first of its kind in Invermere, and is proving to be a design and programming model for other groups across BC. The greenhouse is a solar-heated, water conserving educational facility advancing applied sustainable living practices. As an educational facility, it brings practical examples of community sustainability in the areas of renewable energy, food, resource conservation, social inclusion, skills development, and youth and senior engagement.

Skwachàys Healing Lodge - Vancouver Native Housing Society

This development project saw a derelict Downtown Eastside hotel transformed to include 24 self-contained supportive housing units, 13 healing lodge units, and ground floor commercial space that incorporates a commercial kitchen, a basement workshop, and an art gallery designed to exhibit creative works by First Nations artists. Designed to provide a culturally appropriate environment, the healing lodge incorporates such needs as a smudge room and a sweat lodge for Aboriginal people and their families who must travel to Vancouver for their medical treatment. The project also incorporated many sustainability features including salvaging and reusing materials from the demolition site; high efficiency boilers; and other means to conserve energy and water in the building’s operation.

Private Sector

Winner: River Market - Take Root Properties

Faced with the task of revitalizing the Westminster Quay Public Market, Take Root Properties sought to answer the question of how a public market remains relevant in community life. Their approach of “food-led revitalization” that also strengthens the local food system has proven to be successful since the market opened in November 2011. The New Westminster River Market’s innovative approach focuses on cultural and communal activities to make the market truly public and distinguish itself from other retail outlets. Notably, it includes a food precinct, which highlights key food-related activities such as growing, processing, distributing and serving. A customer loyalty program was introduced which reinvests 1% of money spent at the River Market into grassroots projects in New Westminster. Improving efficiency with upgrades to both infrastructure and operations, the River Market has also demonstrated leadership in sustainability through public education. In addition to initiating a “zero waste” challenge with tenants to divert waste to recycling and compost, events such as workshops and speakers series educate and engage the public.

New Monaco Sustainable Neighbourhood Project - New Monaco Enterprise Corporation

The population in the Okanagan is expected to increase significantly over the next 25 years, and thus development of previously undeveloped land is inevitable. This plan aims to use innovative methods to build a sustainable and healthy community in Peachland. At the outset of the planning process, the developer established a sustainability strategy that has guided all work since. Green buildings, progressive infrastructure and waste management systems, and a sustainable food system are all part of the overall sustainability plan. Collaborations to date include significant relationships built with two Okanagan post-secondary institutions--Okanagan College and University of British Columbia Okanagan--as well as the Interior Health Authority; each organization is undertaking work with New Monaco to support the development of a healthy, sustainable community.

Westminster Pier Park - PWL Partnership Landscape Architects Inc.

The focus of the project was two-fold: to undertake an environmental cleanup of a derelict riverfront site and to build a city park that would help to revitalize New Westminster's downtown core and connect the community to the river. The cleanup included restoring 4,000 square metres (just under an acre) of intertidal riparian foreshore and excavating 3,500 tonnes of contaminated soil from the site. In designing the park, PWL and its project partners ensured that the materials used would be as low maintenance and environmentally benign as possible—and last for 75 years. They used local, and some reclaimed, materials—such as the timber piles, which are recycled telephone poles. Native species are planted throughout the park. The project team also integrated social, cultural, and economic aspects of sustainability into the park’s design. Play spaces, seating areas, gathering places, and artistic features incorporate images and symbols of New Westminster as an historic BC city, thriving fishing community and marine centre.

Public Sector

Winner: Ty–histanis Neigbourhood Development - Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations

In 2006 Parks Canada transferred 84 hectares of land from Pacific Rim National Park to Esowista Indian Reserve No. 3, and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations committed to exploring and applying practical, sustainable community development principles to the planning and design of the expanded community. The project took a collaborative approach, including community engagement and in-depth consultation to identify the values and vision for Ty-histanis and to discuss other critical issues. The development was designed to preserve and protect natural habitat. For example, the goal was to retain at least 50% of the total area with tree canopy. In the first phase of development, 70% of the habitat was protected. Of the 30% that was disturbed, 50% has been or will be restored or enhanced. It also implemented strategies to reduce potable water consumption and is the only First Nation district energy system in Canada to be considered net-zero.

Natural Areas and Climate Change Mapping and Information Tool - City of Prince George

The need to understand the natural areas surrounding and within the city limits—particularly “sensitive” and “rare” ecosystems where climate change may have a stronger effect—led the City of Prince George to undertake this project, where approximately 22,000 hectares of natural areas, representing 65% of the land base within the city boundary, was mapped, including municipally owned, Crown, and private land. The City and other local organizations will use the data and maps to help them make better informed choices about how to use and manage the land. The tool will assist with long-term community planning, “sensitive environment” zoning and growth strategies, watershed planning, wildfire hazard mitigation, and building strategies to address impacts of climate change.