Mississauga freezes downtown development: opposing big-box retail is not just for Leslieville anymore
As Mississauga continues to deal with having few spaces left to develop, we’ve been fascinated to see how the politics of the city would change to accommodate a new reality of rising taxes, more demand for transit services, and questions of how to develop remaining land. The latest revelation is that the city council voted to freeze development in the downtown core, because too many parking-intense big-box stores were on their way.
“This is a defining moment for the City of Mississauga. We needed to take this time out to study land uses in this area and make sure we’re getting it right,” said planning and building commissioner Ed Sajecki. “Development in our downtown has to make it a place where people want to be. That is what we’ve outlined in our Downtown21 Master Plan, and it’s what the residents of Mississauga want and deserve.”
According to a report submitted by Sajecki, the bylaw was needed to put a hold on large format retail and other automobile-oriented developments in Mississauga’s downtown core. The bylaw freezes new development in the subject area, allowing the city the time it needs to examine land uses that would be more in keeping with Downtown21, Mississauga’s new vision for its downtown.
Wait—now Mississauga is opposing big-box stores because of the impact they’d have on the community? We thought that was something only Torontonians did. In any case, the language of Mississauga’s Downtown21 plan makes it clear that this isn’t actually about “preservation” the way it was when Leslieville residents opposed a proposed Walmart. The title of Downtown21 gives it away [PDF link here]: “Creating an Urban Place in the Heart of Mississauga” (our emphasis).
This freeze on development—and the master plan that’s behind it—isn’t about preserving a historic downtown. It’s about, maybe for the first time, building something in Mississauga aside from freeway-abetted sprawl. For a city of more than 600,000 (roughly the population of Toronto-East York), it might be about time.