Families stroll along the banks of canals and sip coffee at sidewalk cafes; young couples walk from nearby condominiums to take in plays and exhibitions in theatres and galleries on an island; others sunbathe on a long pier jutting into Lake Ontario.
This is Mississauga’s ambitious vision for the former Lakeview Generating Station site, a redevelopment that moved a step closer to reality Monday with the tabling of a consultants’ report that will form the basis for designing a master-planned, mixed-use, transit-oriented neighbourhood on a 100-hectare site along the city’s waterfront.
The plan envisions mid-rise apartment blocks and offices with street-front retail on their ground floors, along with some high-rises and townhouses, and a possible college or university campus. Several new streets would be built, including a central, pedestrian-friendly north-south thoroughfare and a transit corridor that would connect the neighbourhood with GO trains and streetcars at Long Branch in the east and a future LRT on Hurontario Street to the west.
A long-neglected creek would be restored to a wetland, while the shoreline would be extended by landfill and turned into a green space to create a continuous belt of parkland along the water’s edge. Canals would run alongside some of the smaller streets.
In the south, new channels of water would be cut, turning the spot where the plant’s four smokestacks once stood into an island that would be home to arts and cultural institutions.
If completed, the project would be one of the city’s biggest steps in its bid to move away from car-friendly planning and embrace a greener form of city building. It would likely take 15 to 20 years to develop the neighbourhood, which could house about 25,000 people.
“Mississauga is one of the few places in North America that’s reinventing itself from a suburban city to an urban one,” said Councillor Jim Tovey, who also wants to see deep-water heating and cooling built to cut down on the new neighbourhood’s carbon emissions.
Before his election last year, Mr. Tovey was part of a residents’ association that first started creating proposals for the development six years ago when the plant closed. Many of its ideas were incorporated into Monday’s report, one of the other things that makes the development unusual.
“This project is fantastic, it is unique in the way the community developed a vision and took it to city hall,” said John Danahy of the University of Toronto’s Centre for Landscape Research, which helped the residents outline their proposals. “This consultants’ study affirms the feasibility of the ideas the community brought forward, and is a model for how planning should take place.”
The city will now create detailed plans for every section of the site and begin environmental assessments.
Some would also like to see the creation of an intergovernmental agency to construct infrastructure and keep the project on track. This comes as Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has questioned the efficiency of his city’s waterfront development agency.
Such an organization would also help bring the private sector onside with the project, as Waterfront Toronto has done for the eastern harbour.