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Mzo Will Get Ball Rolling On Much-Needed Housing in Mississauga

The Ontario government has stepped in with two minister’s zoning orders (MZOs) to get the ball rolling on projects in Mississauga that will add thousands of units of new housing to the Lakeview neighbourhood.

The first of the two orders will allow a new mixed-use, master-planned community destined for Lakeshore and Dixie roads to effectively be doubled from approximately 8,000 to 16,000 new residential units. The second will fast-track development on two parcels of land at 3355 and 5645 Hurontario St.

The actions were an appropriate shot across the bow to light a fire under a slow-moving housing project and serve notice to other municipalities that they must stop messing around with applications.

The development of the  known as Lakeview Village has gone on far too long. Planning for the 177-acre redevelopment site on the grounds of the former Lakeview Power Generating Station dates back 17 years to when the coal-fired power plant was decommissioned and demolished. The site has gone through significant visioning and planning since then. A master plan was tabled in 2018 but has been revised several times to allow for the addition of more housing.

In light of the dire need for housing, it is more urgent than ever to speed up development of the site. Mississauga is losing families due to a lack of housing and, as part of the province’s goal to build 1.5 million new homes in Ontario, the city is required to meet a target of providing 120,000 new homes by 2031.

An MZO was appropriate in this instance. It is a tool that allows Ontario to regulate the use of land anywhere in the province and override municipal zoning bylaws. The government has significantly increased the use of MZOs lately to streamline the new-home construction process and create jobs. 

MZOs are not appealable, so there is nothing the City of Mississauga can do to contest the order.

planning and development committee

The city was surprised at the move. It prompted pushback from Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, who said she would have appreciated a heads up and more consultation with herself and the community, and Ward 1 councillor Stephen Dasko who expressed profound disappointment.

It also caught Mississauga’s planning and development committee off guard. The committee was ready to receive a report from planning staff and discuss significant changes to the planning proposal being sought by way of an MZO request by landowner Lakeview Community Partners Limited (LCPL) that was filed in March.

Mississauga city council had earlier approved a plan that called for 8,050 residential units, 180,000 square feet of commercial space, and 14 acres of employment lands. 

Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark said the MZO “will facilitate the province’s work to tackle the housing supply crisis and ensure that housing supply growth is aligned with and oriented around Ontario’s billions of dollars of historic investments in transit and transit-related infrastructure.”

Indeed, the MZO imposes no limits on building heights and densities in Major Transit Station Areas and allows larger floorplates for towers while removing requirements for podiums. In addition to changes to the number of units and built form, the MZO also eliminates site plan control.

Clark said in media statements that the orders will support the creation of thousands of new homes near transit in Mississauga, as well as lead to impressive public benefits paid for by the home builders.

It’s expected that a minimum of 10 per cent of the homes will be affordable.

 the-city-must-work-with-a-provincial-facilitator

The MZO stipulates that the city must work with a provincial facilitator and the developer to realize the changed plan for the Lakeview site. 

With Mississauga in such dire need of housing, and considering the time it has taken to get this desperately needed project off the ground, it was fitting that the province stepped in and issued an MZO.

The additional units that will be provided by this densification will certainly help in the fight against the housing crisis.

Richard Lyall is president of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON). He has represented the building industry in Ontario since 1991. Contact him at media@rescon.com. 

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