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Hydrogen fuels plans for Bremner Lands in Edmonton

Hydrogen-powered homes envisioned in 5,000-acre mixed-use residential development
A small portion of the near 5,000-acre Bremner Lands, which now appear prime for residential development.| JLL Edmonton.

A new  joint proposal from Qualico and utility company Atco to build a huge hydrogen-fueled residential development that could house up to 85,000 residents may finally launch the Bremner Lands development in Edmonton.

The Bremner Lands, which has been more than 20 years in the planning process, could see nearly 5,000 acres east of Highway 21 and north of Highway 16, including prime agricultural land, transformed into an urban centre led by residential.

Strathcona County council, which governs the Sherwood Park area, voted 6-2 in favour of building out Bremner back in 2016.

Some have been holding their breath on the project ever since.

In 2019, real estate agency JLL of Edmonton listed 292 acres of the Bremner Lands, asking from $80,000 to $100,000 an acre.

“We still have it for sale,” said JLL agent Adam Butler.

Developers began to assemble other land parcels in the Bremner Lands, including Qualico, which drew up plans for the first two neighbourhoods, which were approved by council in 2021.

At a July news conference, the CEO of Alberta Innovates announced that Bremner is one of 18 projects that will receive funding from $20 million worth of grants being provided through its Alberta Hydrogen Centre of Excellence.

The Bremner project will receive $2 million in funding under the initiative.

Qualico hopes to have new homes in the community equipped with furnaces and hot water tanks powered by hydrogen, and eventually grills and cooktops, as part of a plan to build more environmentally conscious communities.

ATCO Gas president Jason Sharpe said his company became involved in the Bremner project to get “in line with Canada’s climate goals.”

He added that production capability for hydrogen is particularly impressive in the Edmonton area, which gives the region an advantage of developing hydrogen-powered homes.

Some see the hydrogen-home angle as just a sexy hook to lure the Bremner Lands into approval, but with a hot housing and rental demand and high in-migration, Edmonton’s apparently needs such huge residential builds.