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A 'brownie' award for Red Rock mill site redevelopers

Veldman brothers garner praise for their Niagara work in repurposing former paper mill
BMI Managing Partners John, Justus and Paul Veldman (Company photo)

BMI Group, a southern Ontario land redeveloper fronting the revitalization of Red Rock’s former paper mill property, has garnered a national award for its revitalization of a former factory site in the Niagara Peninsula.

The Canadian Brownfields Network handed out a Brownie award in the Renew-Large Scale Project category to BMI and its development partner, the Hamilton Oshawa Port Authority (HOPA), for its reuse of the former Resolute paper mill in Thorold, now dubbed the Thorold Multimodal Hub.

Brownie awards go out annually to recognize Canada's best brownfield redevelopment projects which demonstrate innovation, environmental sustainability, and positive community impact, according to a news release from HOPA.

Thorold was selected for its “successful re-imagining of a legacy industrial site for modern industrial uses.”

The Resolute mill and the 80-acre property, located next to the Welland Canal, had been empty since 2017. BMI purchased it in 2020 to package it as the Thorold Multimodal Hub in conjunction with adjacent lands owned by HOPA Ports. The site has marine access to the canal, rail access, an on-site water treatment plant, and more than 500,000 square feet of building space.

The release said, to date, more than $100 million has been invested to upgrade the site infrastructure to modernize the buildings for tenants and reactivate the rail line.

BMI Group, led by the Veldman brothers, John, Justus and Paul, brands itself as a real estate development and revitalization firm that specializes in the “adaptive reuse and repurposing” of old industrial and commercial properties “and their transition from linear to circular economies.”

"We are thrilled to be recognized with this Brownie Award," said Justus Veldman, BMI’s managing director, in a statement.

“We're proud of the imagination and dedication of our team, and grateful to all of our partners who have helped us come so far, so fast. Our restorative development model recognizes the value inherent in legacy industrial spaces and positions them for the future."

Besides having a stake in Red Rock, teamed up with the Red Rock Indian Band, BMI has partnership holdings listed in its online portfolio that includes former mill properties in Iroquois Falls, Fort Frances and Sault Ste. Marie, the International Bridge in Fort Frances, and urban renewal properties in Stratford and Tillsonburg.

They also have reported aims to redevelop the vacant former Northern Breweries site in downtown in Sault Ste. Marie into a “significant” residential and commercial complex.