Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Promoting Adaptive Reuse in Ontario: A Planning Policy Tool for Making the Best of Manufacturing Decline

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Abstract:  The exodus of manufacturing jobs from industrialized cities has increasingly altered the way municipalities plan and cope with buildings and areas that once served as industrial and economic centres. Now these often derelict and costly structures sit as an eyesore in many communities which experience symptoms of post-industrialism. The practice of adaptive reuse is a unique concept of city building, where demolition and traditional brownfield redevelopment have been common practice. Though an already established method, adaptive reuse is becoming increasingly popular due to a greater intensity to protect heritage, reuse materials and structures, and offer unique architectural spaces, there has been a demand to reuse former industrial buildings for other uses such as commercial and recreational spaces. To achieve this, there must be sufficient policy in place to incentivize and mitigate the increase cost and risk which are usually associated with this type of development. This article will focus specifically on Ontario, Canada, and the current Official Plans of all 51 of the province’s cities, and how they are addressing adaptive reuse in former industrial areas and unique ways in which they address this problem. A content analysis of the documents showed that there is a wide difference in reuse contextualization and suggested policy directives. However, Cities in Ontario have proposed that affordable housing, intensification, revitalization in the urban core, and creating spaces for creative and vibrant industries can be addressed by the promotion of reuse in the community. For those with strong industrial history, the applicability of reuse allows for communities to preserve their industrial heritage, while at the same time shift uses to the new economy.

Keywords:  Canada; cities; economic development policy; industrial decline; land use planning; Ontario



© Marcello Vecchio, Godwin Arku. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.