chapter  3
26 Pages

Multiple voices, competing spatial claims: social innovation and the transformation of the Angus Locoshops brownfield site (Montréal)


Urban brownfield sites are industrial, harbour, railway or military ‘idle’ spaces. Although they constitute landed property, they are rarely suitable for generating short-term financial profit because of issues of contamination, complex ownership, peripheral location, etc. Private developers ignore them, or put the land on hold until a more lucrative period. Public authorities intervene to remove investment barriers for a variety of reasons, such as public health, security, image, environmental degradation, marginalization, densification strategies and economic development concerns. Likewise, many academic and policy debates discuss brownfields chiefly as a rational management problem, in which the main issue becomes the ‘removal’ of the brownfield. Yet I argue here that, from a social innovation perspective on strategic spatial planning, the definition of policy problems should focus more on substantive questions concerning the nature of the brownfield transformation project, the actors involved and the project’s role in inclusive territorial development.