|On Jan 19, I was one of the Mississaugans who attended our Downtown 21 public presentation. The City is spending millions of dollars to create this urban strategic plan that is poised to bring a significant transformation to our Downtown Mississauga.|
Downtown Mississauga is in conceptual stage at this moment, once approved the official plan of Mississauga will be amended to make room for Mississauga Downtown 21. To assist the City of Mississauga in preparing the Master Plan, the acclaimed firm of Glatting Jackson Kercher Anglin Incorporated has been retained as lead consultant. They are joined by N. Barry Lyon Consultants, Greenberg Consultants and the Canadian Urban Institute. The Consulting Team brings with them expertise in urban design, place-making, transportation, land use and development planning, economics and real estate, marketing, landscape and sustainability.
It can take many years before Downtown 21 is completed. According to one of the estimates, it can take almost 15 years or more to see this plan take shape. The plan forecasts Downtown Mississauga's population growth to more than double from its current level of 30,000 to 72,000 and provide employment of almost 72,000 once completed. There are also plan to increase the current office square footage from current 3.6 million sq ft to 16 million sq ft. The proposed plan will also add 32.73 hectares of parklands (currently at 19.57 hectares).
Mississauga Downtown's street grid looks more like any other typical industrial grid resembling many North American cities. The Mississauga Downtown 21 plans, once approved will make our City's grid finer, more like Portland or Manhattan, NY. There are plans to redo most of the street frameworks.
Further, the proposed street framework will add more points of entry and exits into Downtown Mississauga. There are plans to add high order transit in a five minute walk from anywhere in the Downtown. There will be more bike lanes, multi use trails and shared lanes.
Mississauga Downtown's Framework Plan is a collection of different districts such as: Confederation, Square One, Hurontario, Main Street, Sussex, Mississauga Valley, Civic district, Cleary Park and Rathburn. It defines set of new street and blocks at a walkable scale for the downtown and its land uses. Streets will be defined as A-Streets (sidewalks, building frontages, pedestrian entrances, window facing shop fronts etc.) and B-Streets (motor vehicle and service driveways).
Main Street District (a new road being proposed) will be the major focus area. The new "main street" will be a vibrant example if what Downtown can be. It will host retail, mom and pop type shops, farmer's market, local artists, pubs, restaurants, street level parking, slow moving traffic geared more toward people than the cars.
The Civic district will host residential areas to the south, existing office buildings, Living Arts Centre, YMCA, Central Library, Square One Mall, and the Sheridan College with a flush street concept. The will allow slow moving traffic and safety for students.
The Cleary park district, currently vacant land (South of Burnhampthorpe and west of Confederation Park Way) will be home to mixed use office and residential area and a park.
The Confederation district will be home of Parkside Village development, a master planned city within itself.
The Rathburn district will be the host of Mississauga Bus Rapid Transit terminal and there are many low rise commercial developments planned for this area.
There is open transit hub also planned on Hurontario corridor, next to Robert Speck Parkway (likely Light Rail Transit; connecting Lakeshore to Brampton along Hurontario Street corridor). Definitely this will help easy commute for many office goers at Mississauga Downtown. There are plans to introduce small roundabouts all along Duke of York.
The idea is to make Downtown Mississauga walkable, urban, transit supportive, green and vibrant.
The buildings in Downtown Mississauga will employ LEED building practices, develop a wide energy approach, will protect/ offer best use of sunlight, mitigate wind and provide comfort to pedestrians. Streetscapes will offer wide sidewalks with provision for bicycling.
The City Centre Drive is proposed to be the "Green Corridor" on downtown. The design focuses on trees and bicycle network connecting parks and squares.
Webb Dr. also will get a face lift that will include double row of street trees on both sides of the street.
There are many challenges that come with any new idea or concept in my view. Most of the land being proposed is privately owned. The City will need to address this issue with local land owners. They may or may not agree with the proposed plans. A vibrant Downtown has lot to do with local demography, mom and pop type shops that will cater to people living in and around Mississauga Downtown. Will these shops be economically viable considering the land prices in Mississauga Downtown core? Not unless the City acquires these lands and does something on subsidized grounds.
North American population is ageing and so many bike lanes may not be necessary.
One big question that was raised by an elderly gentleman was about parallel parking, it is not easy. This person was also lamenting about how other vehicular traffic treats bicycle riders.
The visitors parking is already a big issue. Free parking is yet another one.
Councillor Nando Iannicca, agreed with parking issues and he did mention that there was parking in hundreds available underground at the Civic Square, Mississauga Library and LAC, these parking spaces can be looked into as a way to ease parking problems.
Burnhampthorpe Rd has the most ambitious design of all the streets in downtown. Making room for public transit by narrowing existing lanes, making site for transit stations, making protected bicycle lanes, on-street parking, and wide tree lined sidewalks on Rathburn and Burnhampthorpe may also provide some challenges.
One of my real estate colleagues wanted the plan to take into account the five or six months of snowy conditions of this part of the world.
Affordable housing is another issue that comes to my mind.
There are going to be many more such meetings before the above conceptual plan can take some shape. I will request more Mississaugans to attend such meetings and voice their concerns. Together we can make Mississauga a great place to live, work and play.
One thing is for sure, with no more suburban land available, Mississauga Downtown has some great opportunities when it comes to investing in real estate.