‘Groundhog Day’: Edenshaw bypasses City Council; province will decide on controversial development
Mississauga is facing two appeals at the Ontario Land Tribunal from a developer who continues to put forward proposals the City says do not promote complete communities.
Another contentious development application from controversial developer Edenshaw Developments Ltd. is being criticized once again by Mississauga City Council, who previously condemned the company for “putting a circle in a square.”
In March, Edenshaw presented an information report for a development proposal on the cramped site of a former OPP station—right next to the QEW—that was originally listed for $1 (one dollar). The application at 49 South Service Road, east of Hurontario Street along the QEW, is for a 26-storey apartment building with 352 units and three levels of underground parking for 137 spaces. It requires council approval for an official plan amendment and rezoning to allow the development to proceed.
As the application circulated before the planning and development committee once again on Tuesday, the presentation was met with disdain from councillors, who have criticized the development for not adhering to good planning and the notion of complete communities set out in the City’s Official Plan.
“It's almost like Groundhog Day, because I brought up significant reservations about this proposal as it's being put forward,” Councillor Stephen Dasko, who represents the area of the proposed development, said on Tuesday. “I'm a firm believer that we still need to work on this and running off to the OLT or anywhere else like this, I think is very premature, quite frankly, before you've got all the information that you need.”
Dasko criticized the application for its lack of family-sized units, given the proposal’s close proximity to two nearby schools, pointing to the reality that most families cannot be raised in a one-bedroom unit. Planning staff and councillors previously requested the provision of an appropriate mix of units including family-sized units (two-bedroom and three-bedroom) be incorporated, which in the latest proposal, continues to fall short.
“This seems to be all family-centric, but in a 600 square-foot unit, I don't know how many families would find this palatable,” he said.
Top, The proposed development sign for 49 South Service Road. Bottom, the application is proposed on the former lands of an OPP detachment.
(Alexis Wright/The Pointer)
Parking also once again missed the mark. The proposed development provides 102 resident spaces and 35 visitor spaces yet the zoning bylaw for the area requires 317 resident spaces and 70 visitor spaces. Edenshaw planner Roman Tsap previously told council that with concerns around development bringing traffic, one way to alleviate that “is just not to provide it,” adding with “the billions of dollars being invested along Hurontario for an LRT, we feel that of all the places these are appropriate locations along Hurontario to provide reduced parking.”
On Tuesday Councillor Joe Horneck said “if you're determining that everybody needs to be walking, it's a really hostile pedestrian environment. And so I think, if you want this to move forward, successfully, think about how you can bridge that gap.”
“If you are asking people to walk to these transit nodes, and you're putting them in dangerous situations… it's just not good planning,” he explained. “You've got a school right across the street, there is another pedestrian access where you've got to problem solve. You can't have a building with children in it running across the road, and South Service Road is fast.”
The proposed development sits on a polygonal plot of land that was previously home to the Mississauga OPP station, made up of an 8,000-square-foot building with a parking lot and a garage. In 2020, the province declared the lands surplus when the new detachment was constructed. The building design features a trapezoid shape consisting of staggered balconies that would cut across Mississauga’s skyline. If approved, it would rise above the nearby QEW highway in an area consisting primarily of low-rise buildings.
The property is located within the Hurontario Intensification Corridor under the City’s Official Plan, as well as the Mineola Major Transit Station Area (MTSA) under the Region of Peel Official Plan meaning the lands are within one of the city's strategic growth areas where both provincial and municipal policy specifically direct intensification in the form of higher density uses such as apartment buildings.
Tsap previously told councillors the company had considered a number of factors they feel encourage redevelopment and intensification in the area.
Top, the property with the former OPP station. Bottom, a rendering of the 26-storey apartment building proposed at 49 South Service Road.
(Top, realtor.ca; bottom, Edenshaw Developments Ltd.)
The report noted while planning staff support amendments to the City’s Official Plan and zoning bylaw to accommodate higher intensification, “the applications have not demonstrated that the proposed development is compatible with adjacent lands, complies with applicable development standards including the MTO’s development requirements, and satisfies the technical requirements of departments and agencies including potential impacts on road and intersection operations.”
“Planning staff don't actually object to the high-density designation or to a proposed apartment building. Where the issues arise is we just don't have enough information at this time on certain components of the development. And there are still some issues with regards to municipal and provincial standards,” City planner Michael Franzolini told the committee on Tuesday.
“Given the appeal to the OLT and the September 8 Case Management Conference, it's premature to recommend approval at this time and so planning staff are recommending refusal, however, remain open to continuing to work with the applicants who resolve or narrow all outstanding issues.”
The staff report added approving the proposed application would be premature until outstanding issues are resolved including: unsafe wind conditions on the property without efficient mitigation measures proposed; it does not meet applicable development requirements including setback requirements of the Ministry of Transportation; no appropriate amenity area provided; and the requirement for additional technical information regarding matters including potential impacts on road and intersection operations, access and parking supply.
Councillors previously criticized the proposal for not adhering to livable, walkable communities and the principles outlined in the provincial policies. With the QEW right next to the development, councillors have questioned challenges around the walkability of the location.
Councillor Matt Mahoney previously said people would be “taking their life in their hands,” to cross Hurontario on the north side. He also noted the development was comparable to “an island with no real access to the outside.” Councillor Carolyn Parrish noted the particular site was offered up to the school board and other agencies but was turned down due to the space constraints of the site and the location.
An Edenshaw spokesperson previously told The Pointer the company opted for the location at 49 South Service Road “for a high-rise development because we see an opportunity for growth that is consistent with the City’s vision.”
“The site is located just off Hurontario Street, which is designated as an Intensification Corridor and is also within the Mineola Major Transit Station Area, both of which are identified as strategic growth areas in the City’s Official Plan, exactly where density is meant to be directed,” the spokesperson explained.
This is not the first time Edenshaw has brought forward an application the City has not been on board with. The Mississauga-based developer previously faced contention when it bought provincial land from transit agency Metrolinx right next to the Port Credit GO Station, but refused to include any affordable housing units in its application despite the priority to do so around MTSAs.
In March, Edenshaw made a second attempt in to push a separate development application for two high-rise towers at 40 and 42 storeys — double the height restrictions for the Port Credit area — after it was rejected in July 2022 for its excessive height and lack of affordable housing. The application was slammed again by councillors who labelled it "insulting" when the proposal first came forward. The land is the former south parking lot for the Port Credit GO Station, located at 30 Queen Street East (the developers are now calling it 88 Park Street East).
In July, after council members rejected the application, the committee ordered the developer to go back to the drawing board to revise the application and significantly reduce the proposed building heights. The applicant’s consultants suggested the property owner would file a resubmission that would include changes to the development proposal. However, staff confirmed in March that no revisions had been made to the original proposal. Instead, the applications were appealed by Edenshaw in November to the Ontario Land Tribunal — a move that is becoming more commonplace.
The proposed development sign for the planned highrises on the former south parking lot of the Port Credit GO Station.
(Alexis Wright/The Pointer)
The Edenshaw spokesperson previously said, “Both of the applications, particularly 88 Park Street East, are extremely well served by existing and planned high-order, public transportation, which is where the Province has directed density and growth to occur within cities.” There was no mention of affordable housing, which is the priority for these high-order transit areas.
These applications are the by-product of all the changes the Ford government has made to make it easier for developers to push through certain developments even if municipalities do not want it. Bill 23, which demands 1.5 million new homes across Ontario by 2031 (120,000 in Mississauga), challenges municipalities to hold developers in line with local planning principles while the new legislation allows builders to ignore many of these safeguarded approaches.
The PC government's continued push to build housing and to intensify communities is leading to situations, like the case with Edenshaw, where developers tune out the concerns of local councils, instead pushing forward applications that do not fit with the surrounding community, leaving municipalities at the whim of decisions made by the OLT. The Province’s unprecedented housing target allows developers to submit applications without fear of losing an appeal to the OLT which now, under Bill 23, obstructs municipalities’ ability to defend traditional planning practices.
In the case of 49 South Service Road, the proposed official plan amendment and rezoning applications were appealed In April to the OLT due to a “non-decision” from council. A case management conference for a pre-merit hearing took place on September 8. According to a spokesperson from the OLT, a second case management conference for the development at 88 Park Street East is scheduled for September 15 and a 15-day merit hearing is scheduled for February 2024.
The changes that were made and Bill 23 that degraded heritage protections, broke down environmental protections and eliminated urban boundaries opened the door for a fractured dynamic between developers and municipalities where more power is placed in the hands of the developer to do what they choose.
The recommendation presented on Tuesday to the City’s planning and development committee requested “City Council direct Legal Services, representatives from the appropriate City Departments and any necessary consultants to attend the Ontario Land Tribunal hearing in opposition to the Official Plan Amendment and Rezoning applications in their current form.”
It asked the City’s legal department to “bring a report to Council should there be a potential for settlement,” and that “City Council authorize the Planning and Building Department to instruct Legal Services on requesting mediation or to otherwise enter into settlement discussions during or before the Ontario Land Tribunal hearing process.”
“I'm really hoping that there's a real onus and a responsibility on Edenshaw, if they're putting this forward, to make sure that things are safe, things are right, and it's something that people want to actually live in,” Dasko said.
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