City of Mississauga rejects applications for 2 residential towers because proposed buildings are too tall
Ontario says Mississauga can't set its own height limits in major transit station areas
March 27, 2023
The City of Mississauga rejected applications for two residential towers in Port Credit steps from two major transit stations this month, saying the buildings proposed were too tall.
But the province of Ontario says the city can no longer make this type of decision due to municipal planning changes the province brought into play in late 2022.
In November, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing approved a Peel Region official plan, which a ministry spokesperson told CBC Toronto "removed the discretion of lower-tier municipalities to establish maximum heights within major transit station areas."
The minister also wrote a letter to the Peel Regional Council using similar language in February.
This hasn't stopped Mississauga -- a lower-tier municipality -- from going ahead with rejecting recent applications that don't conform to its own plan, including applications for several tall buildings on transit routes.
City planning staff recommended Mississauga's Planning and Development committee reject the Port Credit 40 and 42-storey development proposed for 88 Park St. East -- a site which is next to a GO station and LRT station under construction -- saying to conform to the city's plan the height in the area should top out at just over half of what is being proposed.
Resident Jonathan Giggs, asked during the March planning meeting if the city could still set their own height limits given new provincial rules around major transit areas.
Councillors and city staff say they are seeking clarity from the province on the issue, with some councillors expressing concern about what losing the right to make height restrictions would mean for city planning.
It doesn't fit into the local area plan, councillor says
Planning and Development Committee Chair Dipika Damerla calls the situation a "grey area."
She says while Mississauga has an official plan of its own, areas within Mississauga, such as Port Credit, also have plans which limit height.
Ward 1 councillor, Stephen Dasko, says his ward is already hitting minimum density targets and the development "doesn't fit the neighborhood."
He says it doesn't fit into the local area plan and anything above what this plan indicates would be "reckless" and "highly inappropriate."
"There's prescribed heights and densities in place for a reason," he said.
Damerla says it would be difficult for the city to plan for schools and other infrastructure needs without having height limits near transit.
She says the city has thousands of units already approved and shouldn't have an issue meeting the provincial housing target of 120,000 units within the next decade without changing existing zoning density.
The intent of the province's move was not only to increase housing stock, but to increase density areas around transit, something the city says it's prepared to do.
Yet, this is not the only development Mississauga has rejected recently, citing height concerns.
The city also rejected a multi-tower proposal for 30 Eglinton Ave. W. -- a development which would be on the LRT line -- at its March planning meeting. Staff cited sun and shadow studies and other concerns with having tall towers, recommending that councillors reject the proposal, which they did.
'The GTA does not have a shadow crisis,' advocate says
The handful of residents who attended the March meeting spoke out against both projects, saying increased density would lead to busyness, traffic and concerns related to shadows for their neighbourhoods.
Some housing advocates who were not at the meeting say they've had enough of the city trying to limit housing in many Mississauga neighbourhoods.
"Mississauga should find ways to say yes to housing instead of saying no to housing near transit, again and again," said housing advocate Bilal Akhtar. "Don't get in the way of the province."
He says the Port Credit site would mean that people could work in Mississauga or Toronto and have a fast car-free commute, something that ought to be encouraged.
"The GTA does not have a shadow crisis. The GTA has a housing crisis," says Akhtar, whose parents' home is up the street from the rejected Eglinton development. "You don't need shadows or the sun to live. But you do need a house to live with dignity."
Akhtar says he is concerned young people will not be able to find anywhere to live near their parents.
Harminder Dhillon of Engage Peel, says he's disappointed to see his adult children priced out of living in Mississauga to be close to him.
He views councillors as pandering to residents who don't want more density in their neighbourhoods.
"Won't fit is a relative term," he said. "I do not own the other homes on the street."
Housing advocate Mark Richardson says Mississauga is not picking its battles well.
When considering the Port Credit development, he said, "These heights are really reasonable that the developer is asking for."
Port credit GO station
He says density also makes it more feasible to include affordable units.
"If you want affordable housing on this site, we need to be OK with the 42 storeys. We need to be OK with less parking," he said.
"There is no way we solve the affordable housing crisis in the Greater Toronto Area without politicians who are willing to upset the neighbours," he said.
CBC Toronto reached out to Edenshaw Developments, which proposed the Port Credit development, to ask about their next move, but did not receive a reply by press time.
The project can turn to the Ontario Land Tribunal to appeal Mississauga's decision.