Overseeing the redevelopment of 250 acres of prime Mississauga, Ont. waterfront offered a generational opportunity, City of Mississauga and development stakeholders told a recent webinar audience — but it’s also an immense responsibility.
The obligation to get the multibillion-dollar Brightwater and Lakeview redevelopments right, ensuring the highest and best use of the lands as part of a sacred trust with Mississauga citizens, was a recurring theme during an Urban Land Institute Toronto presentation held Feb. 5. The event was kicked off by Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie with the various city managers who followed describing the challenges they have faced as the two projects move forward.
Christina Giannone, vice-president of development with Brightwater, who grew up in the city, also contributed to a panel discussion on the two projects.
“There’s no question that the waterfront is a special place,” she said. “Everyone wants to be close to the water so that means there’s a lot of stakeholders around the table and rightly so.
“The biggest opportunity really for our site and waterfront development is creating a world-class complete community within an already world-class city. Opportunities don’t come around often so when it does, we as developers have a major responsibility to get it done right.”
Both projects involve brownfield transformations. Lakeview is rising at Lakeshore Road East in east Mississauga at the site of the former coal-fired Ontario Power Generation (OPG) plant, in operation from 1962 to 2005. Brightwater is in Port Credit to the west, reclaiming the site of the Texaco oil refinery that closed in 1985.
Over the past decade the city engaged in widespread brainstorming through processes known as Inspiration Lakeview and Inspiration Brightwater.
Crombie stressed that waterfront developments cannot be like any other, given that everyone in the city feels ownership.
“The problem was the city did not own much of that land along the waterfront and it was very difficult to make this plan a reality,” said Crombie. “We needed committed development partners, and in 2017 and 2018, both happened.”
First, the 72-acre Imperial Oil site was sold to a development consortium composed of Kilmer Group, Dream Unlimited Corp., Diamond Corp. and FRAM + Slokker. Then the 177-acre Lakeview site was sold by the province and OPG to Lakeview Community Partners Limited, with team members TACC Construction Limited, Greenpark Group, CCI Development Group, Branthaven and Argo Development Corporation.
“Almost overnight, we went from having beautiful master plans with no sites to execute them on, to having over 250 acres of waterfront land in play with co-operative development consortiums ready to get started. So we got to work and we’re still working,” said Crombie, noting the unprecedented demands that were placed on various city departments and other collaborating agencies.
Brightwater has progressed more quickly with 3,000 residential units approved. The site will also feature more than 300,000 square feet of commercial space, with retail and a community common corridor running the length of the development from Lakeshore Road to the lake.
“The site draws people in and through to the water,” Crombie said.
Lakeview Community Partners resubmitted subdivision, official plan amendment and rezoning documents in November. Lakeview will provide 8,000 residential units housing 20,000 residents, district heating, vacuum waste collection, an expanded MiWay transit system and 20 acres available for campus, cultural and innovation lands.
City of Mississauga manager of official plan review Ben Phillips said reconnecting Lake Ontario to the rest of the city is “a once-in-a lifetime, once-in-a-generation opportunity, certainly as a planner, but for Mississauga, I think also just creating truly complete communities on both of these sites is a key positive.
“They will be walkable, they will be urban. We’re not replicating a suburban situation.”
The special challenges extended to assembling the right development team, Brightwater’s Giannone said, and hiring extraordinary consultants.
“Each brings their expertise to the table in planning, building, remediation, leasing and infrastructure,” she said of the Brightwater developers. “We’ve also brought on world-renowned designers and consultants, and that’s something that we felt was really important.
“We also held an international design selection process, because with a community of this scale and importance…we want to raise the bar in design, we have an opportunity to showcase the waterfront.”
Crombie added, “When we’re done, our waterfront will compete with the Chicagos, the Stockholms, the San Franciscos of the world.”
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