The City of Mississauga has rejected an extensive residential development proposed for the southeast quadrant of Hurontario Street and Eglinton Avenue East, saying that the proposal, in its current form, neglects to satisfy the built form policies established in the Mississauga Official Plan.

According to a planning report, prepared by Bousfields Inc. and submitted to the City in August 2021, The Elia Corporation (the site owner) is seeking to develop the site at 136 Eglinton Avenue East, 4615 Hurontario Street, and 25, 35, 55, 105, and 110 Elia Avenue, which is “comprised of approximately 8.49 hectares of vacant and underutilized lands.” The proposed development, says the report, “presents a tremendous opportunity to support the City’s development goals for the area.”

The proposal describes a nine-tower condo development with heights ranging from 28 to 45 storeys, as well as an adjacent eight-block townhouse component. A total of 4,690 residential units are planned, which could translate into an “anticipated population” in the realm of 10,383, according to a planning analysis by city staff.

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Chris Rouse, Director of Development and Design for City of Mississauga tells STOREYS that although City staff are “supportive of residential intensification and tall buildings” on the site in question, the current proposal leaves too many critical questions unanswered.

“The applicant failed to provide a school site, which is required by the Peel District School Board, and the buildings as they are currently proposed do not satisfy the built form policies established in Mississauga Official Plan, specifically pertaining to transition, angular plane, and maximizing sunlight on the public realm and adjacent properties,” says Rouse.

Even so, it seems that the matter is no longer under City purview. In a rather unorthodox turn of events, The Elia Corporation has appealed to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) on the basis of the City’s non-decision. And this was before the City issued its official decision. A hearing is scheduled for March 2024.

Although Elia has declined to comment to media on the matter, a spokesperson for Bousfields says that the decision to preemptively appeal to the OLT was an attempt to coax the process along. Moreover, doing so was well within Elia’s rights.

“The Planning Act allows an applicant to appeal a development application to the Ontario Land Tribunal either when the application is denied by the City or when the City has failed to render a decision within the statutory timeframes. In this case, the appeal was the latter,” says the spokesperson. “Once Elia filed its appeal to the OLT, the City was no longer the approval authority -- the OLT became the approval authority. Elia appealed when it did because it wanted finality to the process.”

As for the various concerns raised by the City with respect to the proposed, the Bousfields spokesperson says it’s not so cut and dry.

"Planning policy and land use planning, including the matter of school sites, is not black and white, it is a matter of degrees and balancing various objectives. Elia and the City have a disagreement on whether the proposed development meets the built form policies in the Mississauga Official Plan or not. Those policies also need to be applied in light of higher, provincial policies and principles of good planning. The answers to these questions are the very matter for the OLT to decide.”

City Councillor John Kovac -- he serves Ward 4 communities including Hurontario, Rathwood, and Creditview -- says that on top of clashing with City staff on the matter, Elia is disregarding how the proposal might affect Mississauga residents.

In a town hall meeting held on December 15, 2021, Kovac says that residents voiced their concerns and requested more details on the proposed.

“Their concerns were, if there's going to be this much development proposed and potentially accepted, how will it affect the local road network? How will it add to the traffic flow and congestion? Would there be adequate infrastructure in place, or to be added later by the City or the Region of Peel, to support like such intensification in one area?” says Kovac. “The developer had also indicated no prior consultation done with either the [Catholic or public] school boards. So there are a lot of unknowns in relation to something that involves a lot of residential growth.”

Kovac adds that Elia has yet to respond to any of the grievances aired -- in fact, he’s had no communication with Elia since December 2021. Admittedly, he’s taken aback by what comes off as irreverence.

“In my experience, builders -- or let's say, members of the development community -- tend to try to show goodwill to the city in which they choose and wish to build in because that reflects back on them and their brand and their image,” he says. “If they're wanting to go this route of just going straight to the OLT and not trying to work it out with the City, is that not indicative of something? They're not wanting to problem- and puzzle-solve, they're wanting to bypass cooperation. Naturally, it’s disappointing.”

Still, Kovac and City staff have stated that they remain open to a modified version of the proposal so long as it is “sensitive” to Mississauga residents and receptive to input from City staff. Whether or not Elia will agree to any degree of compromise remains to be seen -- but it's not off the table.

“The ideal outcome of the appeal would be for the Ontario Land Tribunal to approve a development which meets approved provincial and municipal policies and represents good planning,” says the Bousfields spokesperson. “Despite filing the OLT appeal, Elia remains willing to a negotiated settlement. Those discussions will be held directly with the City.”

(Cover photo via BDP Quadrangle)