Mississauga renames park after local legend Iggy Kaneff
“City builder, inspiration, leader”.
These were the words used to describe local legend Iggy Kaneff during a ceremony at Mississauga City Hall on Wednesday.
Council and staff were joined by the family of the late Ignat (Iggy) Kaneff and members of the Kaneff Group on April 19 to officially unveil the sign that will be placed in the newly renamed Iggy Kaneff Park at 2180 Camilla Road, formerly known as Camilla Park.
“Not only was he a builder, but he was also a visionary who forever changed the face of Mississauga and left an indelible mark on the communities that he builds. We hope the park continues to bring joy and tranquility to the community now and for many generations to come,” Kaneff’s daughter Anna-Maria said to council.
In a report to council last year, City staff looked into various naming options to honour Kaneff following his death in 2020. With the Kaneff Corporation having developed a number of properties in close proximity to Camilla Park, staff determined it was a suitable option to be renamed. Following public consultation, the park was renamed Iggy Kaneff Park in October.
By the time Kaneff died at age 93, he had produced an illustrious legacy. Founder of a major building/development company (Kaneff Properties); owner of Kaneff Golf; and a certified billionaire who had no qualms with sharing his wealth with Mississauga. The long-time Mississauga resident lived by a moral code driven by faith, family, work and giving back to the communities that made him. Building dreams for others became a relentless mission.
The family of the late Ignat (Iggy) Kaneff and members of the Kaneff Group gathered on Wednesday at Mississauga City Hall to celebrate the renaming of Camilla Park to Iggy Kaneff Park.
(Alexis Wright/The Pointer)
Arriving in Canada in 1951 at the age of 24 with nothing but $5 in his pocket, Kaneff eventually became one of the most powerful and decorated leaders in the developer/building trade in Mississauga. He is widely credited as one of the “builders of Mississauga”.
Through a wide diversity of product offerings—rental apartments, homes and condos, commercial properties, and a six-course golf empire—Kaneff Properties’ distinguished itself from its competitors and saw strong success during uncertain times in the city’s growth.
As a philanthropist and founder of the Mississauga-based Kaneff Corporation, Kaneff used his wealth to fund charities, schools, churches, and help people in his home country of Bulgaria and his adopted one, Canada.
“Iggy and the family have been philanthropists that have given more back to this city and country than they ever took,” Region of Peel Chair Nando Iannicca said.
Iggy Kaneff alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The Bulgarian native was the recipient of four honorary doctorates, the Order of Canada and Ontario; was named Business Person of the Year in both Brampton and Mississauga, and honoured as Mississauga’s top citizen in 1992.
His accomplishments were highlighted in a series of statements made by councillors whose lives he impacted during his time.
“[He was} just a true builder of community, a true leader, a true legacy builder,” Councillor Chris Fonseca said. “The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy. So make sure that you are taking the time to do things for other people.”
Following a staff report and public consultation, Camilla Park has been renamed Iggy Kaneff Park.
(Alexis Wright/The Pointer)
“This was the most humble man you've ever met, yet so successful,” Crombie said on Wednesday. “He planted his seeds here in Mississauga when we still were farmland and fruit trees everywhere. [It's] the city built around Hazel's vision and Iggy’s shovels and his vision into this beautiful, vibrant and prosperous, thriving city that we all know and call home.
“He transformed Mississauga,” she added. “He was this early pioneer in our community, building real estate and this construction empire. I don't even know if he realized the kind of influence and magnitude that he would have that spanned over the course of decades. Their buildings are now a staple in our city, shaping the urban landscape and of course, the skyline.”
During his lifetime, Kaneff sent millions of dollars back home to Bulgaria, but much of his generosity was centered around the city he made his name in. He was a tireless promoter of Community Living Mississauga which helped those with intellectual disabilities. Through his annual golf tournament, he raised millions, and sent millions more to construct new buildings at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, York University, the University of Ruse (Bulgaria) and Sheridan College, ensuring his legacy would impact generations of students.
“He was the “Mr.” in Mississauga, Hazel was the “Mrs.” and we will always remember that,” Crombie said. “A city builder, and a philanthropist like none other.”
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