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Downtown Mississauga Growth Plan

Downtown Mississauga Growth Plan

Mississauga: A City in Transition

The City of Mississauga is embarking upon major growth never seen before as plans by the Province of Ontario have pegged Downtown Mississauga as an Urban Growth Centre.

The Downtown Mississauga Growth Plan is a city in transition, and is targeted to achieve a minimum growth density of 200 residents and jobs combined per hectare by 2031.

This Urban Growth Centre is divided into 4 different downtown character areas: Downtown Core, Downtown Fairview, Downtown Cooksville, and Downtown Hospital. The area is referred to as Downtown Mississauga and is bounded by the lands between Highway 403 and the Queen Elizabeth Way.

The City of Mississauga created the Downtown21 Master Plan back in April 2010 to help achieve the growth vision for the downtown area. But, a new guiding document is currently being drafted called the Downtown Strategy.

The Downtown Strategy will build on the successes of Mississauga21 and provide more specific plans for the future for the downtown core. The Strategy will offer a more modern enhanced vision that will guide growth in the decades to come.

Growth Targets

Downtown Mississauga has a minimum gross density target of 200 residents and jobs combined per hectare by 2031. The City is actually aiming to go above and beyond these targets to achieve a gross density between 300 and 400 residents and jobs combined per hectare within the downtown core.

The proposed build out of the Downtown21 Plan has the potential of achieving a 1:1 population to employment ratio. It is estimated that Downtown Mississauga can achieve 70,000 jobs and 70,000 residents across the four character areas by 2041.

With respect to population growth, Mississauga’s population is forecast to grow 22% to 878,000 by 2041. The City is also forecasting a 14% growth in the overall youth demographic, and while population growth will match job growth, the employment forecast for the region is pegged at 552,000 jobs by 2041.

This means that there will be 104,000 more jobs to the region. With this growth there will be a demand for the development of new homes and office and commercial lands along key transit nodes and major roads.

Growth Targets For Urban Growth Centres

The growth targets for Downtown Mississauga are very ambitious, but the City has already proven itself as a region within the GTA that is robust and just as competitive at Toronto’s downtown core. The vision to be created and achieved by Downtown Mississauga will shape how people work and live not only within the City, but across the GTA as well.

Source: Oxford Properties
Courtesy of Oxford Properties

Vision

The future plan for Downtown Mississauga will create a more walkable, vibrant core that will enhance the look and feel of streets to make them more pleasant for people to walk, shop, eat and congregate in public squares, urban parks and cultural facilities.

While the downtown core has a vision that will be primarily centred on creating greater density through tall condo structures that offer a variety of mixed commercial and civic uses, a big part of Mississauga’s improvements will be linked to transformative changes with people’s reliance on cars which makes walkability difficult and burdensome on those residents who wish to have a more pedestrian-friendly, active outdoor lifestyle.

This means that new infrastructure design will be created such as new cycling infrastructure coming to Living Arts Drive, as well as an LRT line within the downtown that reduces reliance on cars. In fact, the City is currently undergoing a revamp to the Mississauga Downtown21 Plan by launching the “Downtown Strategy”. This guiding document will build on the successes of the Mississauga21 Plan and provide better goals for the future of the downtown core.

The Downtown Strategy will offer a more modern and enhanced vision that will guide growth in the decades to come. In order to facilitate these changes, the City is conducting online surveys to seek guidance and feedback from residents on the changes they would like to see accomplished for the vision of Mississauga’s downtown core. Residents are invited to give their input about what they want to see happen to their Downtown.

The Strategy is aimed at setting a vision and plan for Downtown Mississauga that looks to evaluate the downtown’s strengths, areas of opportunity, future needs, and map on how to achieve the vision.

There are 3 essential phases to the Downtown Strategy, which include:

Phase 1 - identifying the strengths of the downtown core, which took place during summer and fall 2019.
Phase 2 - defining the future for the downtown, which is expected to take place between Winter and Spring 2020, which will identify opportunities and future possibilities for the downtown, and lastly
Phase 3 - determining the exact measures for success and what should be implemented to achieve the vision for Downtown Mississauga during summer and fall 2020.

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Residential and Employment

Today, Mississauga stands as the third largest city in Ontario and the sixth largest city in Canada. Mississauga is undeniably one of the fastest growing cities in Canada and one that is making big moves with respect to residential and employment growth.

The City of Mississauga is home to over 722,000 people in over 248,000 households. In terms of population growth, the City is currently growing at a rate of 6,300 people per year, which is expected to reach 878,000 people by 2041.

Over the past five years, there have been approximately 110,000 people from across Canada and beyond that have chosen Mississauga as their place of residence.

Currently, about 60% of land in the City is reserved for residential or mixed-uses, which is indicative of a city growing taller in order to avoid unmanaged growth. The skyline of Downtown Mississauga looks quite similar to that of Downtown Toronto where high-rise condo developments are continually being built.

While there are many residential developments currently underway within Downtown Mississauga, one worth highlighting is by developers Oxford Properties and Alberta Investment Management Corp. (AIMCo) who are planning on developing the largest mixed-use downtown development in Canada.

Source: Oxford Properties
Courtesy of Oxford Properties

These developers are unveiling an entirely new Mississauga City Centre that will feature 37 high-rise towers. The plan is to convert parking lots around Square One Shopping Centre and into large mixed-use developments. This 52-hectare development known as Square One District is a multi-phased project that includes 18 million square feet of combined condo, office, retail and green spaces. This endeavour will be large enough to accommodate 35,000 residents within the area surrounding Burnhamthorpe Road, Confederation Parkway, Highway 403 and City Centre Drive.

This project is not only aiming to build residential and commercial spaces, but also has the goal of making the area pedestrian-friendly near the centre of the Square One District called The Strand. The Strand will have over 18,000 residential units, a transit mobility hub that connects to the Hurontario LRT, as well as parks, green spaces and office space. It is also worth mentioning a project by Camrost Felcorp called EX2. The Exchange District will be one of Downtown Mississauga’s newest neighbourhoods and a key part of the City’s original vision for the Downtown21 Master Plan.

Place Of Work Employment Forecast By Character Area

This area has a lot of historic roots dating back to the 1700s where the New Credit First Nation used to buy and sell goods with European traders. Fast forward to today and this area that surrounds Square One Shopping Centre is transforming the Exchange District into a gateway to Downtown Mississauga. The vision includes a walkable neighbourhood that is filled with shops and retail establishments where people can gather. The neighbourhood has already been modernized with amenities including the Sheridan College campus, Central Library, YMCA, Playdium, Celebration Square, transit hubs and Living Arts Centre to name a few.

With respect to employment, the Downtown Mississauga growth plan has been divided into four major character areas: Downtown Core, Downtown Fairview, Downtown Cooksville, and Downtown Hospital. Each of these character nodes have specific employment targets established by the City of Mississauga. When looking at the combined growth for all four character areas, we see that from 2011 the total employment was 33,900 and is forecast to reach 54,600 by 2041. In terms of employment density per hectare, in 2011 there were approximately 61 jobs per hectare, which is forecast to hit 98 jobs per hectare by 2041. Of course, Downtown Mississauga actually has more aggressive plans to surpass those targets within the next decade.

What’s interesting is that currently Mississauga has an overall higher number of jobs per resident than any other municipality in the GTHA. The primary areas for employment include manufacturing, warehousing, as well as the professional, scientific and technical services sector, which combined draw in over 234,000 commuters to the City each day.

The primary reason for this is because Mississauga is a city that attracts one of the most diverse talent pools across all of Canada.

Mississauga will always be a top competitor in Canada’s business economy because of its ability to sustain a cultural mosaic unlike any other city in the country.

This translates into a strength and asset for the City as being a hub that embraces multiculturalism, which contributes to further employment and residential growth in the region. In fact, Mississauga has a population where over 57% of residents are visible minorities. These statistics definitely work as strengths for the city in terms of its economic contribution to both Ontario and Canada as a whole. Mississauga is also home to notable corporations, including Microsoft, Ericsson, FedEx, GlaxoSmithKline and Hewlett-Packard to name a few.

The growth targets for Downtown Mississauga show that this urban growth centre has the potential of achieving a 1:1 population to jobs ratio. The target for the downtown is to achieve 70,000 jobs and 70,000 residents within the four character areas by 2041.

As a whole, the City of Mississauga’s employment growth is actually expected to reach 552,000 by 2041, which means that there will be over 104,000 more jobs in the region. Also, the City is projecting a 14% growth in terms of the overall youth demographic, which is a good sign for sustainability in the decades to come.

Source: City of Mississauga
Source: City of Mississauga

Transportation

Anyone who knows the City of Mississauga is aware that the City has a serious congestion problem. The congestion is created from traffic caused not only by cars, but by poor infrastructure design that has hindered walkability scores for the vast majority of residents.

This is why the City created the Mississauga Transportation Master Plan: to address concerns around traffic and create a more walkable pedestrian-friendly downtown.

The Transportation Master Plan has a vision to enable everyone and everything to “have the freedom to move safely, easily, and efficiently to anywhere at any time.”

This vision is, of course, in response to the dominance that car travel has as a main form of transportation, which is used for 85% of all weekday trips to, from and within Mississauga. There are actually 489,000 car trips during a normal weekday period, which is creating considerable congestion for the City’s roads and not to mention the impact this has on overall air-quality and emissions.

Studies have shown that traffic congestion and pollution have negative effects on business, transit networks and the general quality of life residents and visitors experience on a daily basis.

Therefore, the Transportation Master Plan is designed to address these issues by putting an action plan in place to shape how Mississaugans commute over the next couple of decades.

Downtown Mississauga will achieve a vision that has frequent transit services, including higher-order transit facilities that connect all parts of the City and surrounding municipalities.

Hurontario LRT

While Mississauga currently has well-established transit services in place including MiWay, GO Transit and the Mississauga Transitway, the reality is that more transit options are still needed to help reduce the reliance on cars.

This is why the City is moving forward with the construction of the Hurontario Light Rail Transit (LRT) project. Both Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario (IO) have been awarded the bid for the Hurontario LRT project whereby they will not only build, finance and design the LRT, but also operate and maintain it over a 30-year term.

The Hurontario LRT is intended to complement the east-west Transitway by providing a north-south Hurontario LRT service. Construction of the Hurontario LRT is expected to begin in 2020 with a target completion date in the Fall 2024.

This new 18-kilometre LRT will provide better transportation service for residents of Mississauga with the aim of reducing reliance on car travel to and from work. The great thing about the Hurontario LRT is that it will help residents connect to other transit services available in the City like MiWay, Zum, and the Mississauga Transitway at Square One.

Source: Metrolinx
Courtesy of Metrolinx

The LRT will offer 19 stops and have its very own dedicated lane, ensuring a fast and convenient form of transportation for residents without having to deal with typical traffic congestion.

The Hurontario LRT is also environmentally-friendly as it will produce near zero emissions offering residents a safe and sustainable form of travel.

The Hurontario LRT will form a crucial link for both residents and businesses along the Hurontario corridor, whereby about a quarter of the City’s employment and residents will reside within the next two decades.

Nevertheless, while the Hurontario LRT offers much needed transportation access to limit car traffic, the reality remains that Downtown Mississauga still needs a larger investment in walkability and more pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods within the downtown to avoid reliance on “machines” to get to and from work.

Dundas Connects

In addition to the anticipated Hurontario LRT is the Dundas Street Corridor project in Mississauga. Dundas Street is a key gateway within Mississauga that connects to many other areas within the city. Dundas connects with key transit routes, which is essential for where people in the city want to live, work and engage on a daily basis.

The Dundas Connects Master Plan is the core for this initiative that looks to link transportation and land use planning along the corridor to meet future needs. The Dundas Connects growth projection is 52,000 new residents and 9,600 jobs. The recommendation for the area is to also build 45 hectares of new public parks creating a total of 60 to 70 hectares of public parks across the Dundas Corridor.

Also, Mississauga’s Official Plan has recognized Dundas Street as an intensification corridor that will support a mix of new housing, employment and other commercial spaces within the corridor. What this growth means is that more transit routes and networks will be required to meet demand.

The Dundas Street Corridor is a place where the city’s diversity is truly shown. There is a mix of unique stores, businesses, schools, parks, churches and great neighbourhoods within the corridor. The area is an essential transportation network where thousands of people commute daily to get around the city and the GTA.

It is expected that in the next 35 to 40 years the number of people using Dundas Street will increase significantly. This means that a vision for the future in Mississauga needs to take into account future land use and transportation along Dundas street, which is why the City of Mississauga created the Dundas Connects Master Plan. The Dundas Street Corridor will be 4 kilometres wide and 19.5 kilometres long, extending from Mississauga’s border with Oakville all the way to Kipling Station in the City of Toronto.

Vision Cooksville and Mobility Hub

Complementing this development is Vision Cooksville, which is a City initiative engaging the community regarding a future vision for this urban region. Downtown Cooksville is one of the major character areas for the Downtown Mississauga Growth Plan, which is expected to see a boom in both population and jobs. The projection for the Cooksville area is an additional 9,500 people and 1,000 jobs by 2031. Vision Cooksville seeks to build a dynamic new public area where there are pedestrian-friendly walkable streets, new housing, local businesses, and community facilities.

What’s even more exciting about Cooksville is its future plans for a mobility hub as recommended in the Cooksville Mobility Hub Master Plan. Metrolinx has chosen three transit lines that will intersect in Cooksville, which include the current Milton GO transit rail line, the proposed Hurontario LRT, and the rapid transit line on Dundas Street. As a whole, these higher order transit investments will make downtown Cooksville into a major mobility hub over the next decades.

Source: Oxford Properties
Courtesy of Oxford Properties

Investing in Walking, Cycling and Transit

The vision for Downtown Mississauga is highly vested in creating a more walkable environment that is pedestrian-friendly with bicycle routes as alternatives to transit.

The City is investing in new pedestrian walkways and crosswalks that connect residential and business establishments within walking distance.

What’s interesting is that there are over 620,000 trips taken each day in Mississauga that are less than 5 kilometres in length, which is a distance suitable for cycling. Yet, today only 1% of trips are taken by bike. There are over 3,000 people cycling to work out of 98,000 who all live within a 5 kilometre radius from their workplaces.

In terms of walkability, only a third of “walkable” commutes that are under 1 kilometre are taken. There are about 100,000 potentially walkable trips that are instead taken by car or transit in Mississauga each day. Approximately 2,000 people walk to work in the City out of 32,000 people who all live within 1 kilometre distance of their workplaces. This illustrates that people in Mississauga are discouraged from walking especially for short distances.

In the survey of residents it was also shown that people were discouraged from walking because of an overall unpleasant walkable environment due to poor walking routes, unsafe intersections, and narrow walkways. It was also found that one of the most significant barriers for walking was that residents did not feel safe or generally felt uncomfortable with these forms of travel. These are all City infrastructure design and road planning issues the City intends on fixing as part of their vision for this urban growth centre by 2041.

Education

Downtown Mississauga is not only developing condos and commercial spaces, but also has the advantage of being within close commute to top-rated academic institutions, including the University of Toronto Mississauga campus and the Sheridan College Hazel McCallion campus located in the heart of this urban growth centre.

Both the University of Toronto Mississauga campus and the Sheridan College Hazel McCallion campus have a student population of approximately 20,000 students combined, which represents a significant opportunity for investors when it comes to condo rentals for both international and local student populations looking to live close to their post-secondary schools.

Why Investors Should Consider Downtown Mississauga?

Investors should be interested in Downtown Mississauga because it is a key economic hub within the GTA. It is home to over 70+ Fortune 500 companies, which is only second to downtown Toronto as Canada’s biggest employment centre.

Approximately 30,000 workers commute from other cities into Mississauga for employment. Forecasts also show that by 2035 the Toronto Pearson Airport, located in the borders of Mississauga, can facilitate the creation of over 700,000 jobs throughout the province, which would represent about 8.5% of Ontario’s GDP. The creation of jobs at the Toronto Pearson Airport would have economic benefits for Mississauga to further boost its local economy by attracting top talent interested in living near the airport. Mississauga also stands out for being the third largest FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate) cluster in North America.

Mississauga is one of the best cities for any investor because of its vast growth expected under the growth plan.

Source: Oxford Properties
Courtesy of Oxford Properties

Statistics such as population growth of over 22% to 878,000 by 2041 speaks for itself. The City of Mississauga is a vibrant, youthful city that has amenities that attract younger demographics. The Master Plan for Mississauga shows jobs reaching 552,000 by 2041, which means there will be the creation of over 104,000 more jobs in the region.

In terms of residential opportunities, there are currently six towers under construction in the downtown core. However, over the next decade it is anticipated that there could be approximately 46 new condo towers and 24,494 units based on estimates from city planners.

The 10-year average resale appreciation rate for the City is 10% and is only getting stronger with the development of new condo towers, greater walkability and better transit that is all coming to fruition as per the Mississauga21 and Mississauga Strategy Master Plans.

Every investor wants to know that they are buying a condo in a city that has sustainable growth and there is no denying that Downtown Mississauga offers this. Over the past decade, 4% has been the average rental appreciation rate and the vacancy rate is only 1%.

The City is not only investing in the development of condos and commercial employment spaces, but is also bringing forward-thinking transit such a the new Hurontario LRT project. The expansion of transit options presents a fantastic opportunity for investors because it is a well known fact that properties near transit increase in value 30% more than those farther away from transit routes.

More and more people are excited about investing in Downtown Mississauga because it is a region that can accommodate significant growth. Overall, Downtown Mississauga presents itself as a vibrant, diverse city that will prove to be a smart investment decision for anyone looking to grow their portfolio over the long term.

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