← An aerial rendering of the new development that will emerge on the former site of the Lakeview Generating Station.

A new community emerges on the former Lakeview Generating Station lands.

By Fabio Mazzocco and Brian Sutherland

For 43 years, the future Lakeview Village lands in Mississauga were home to the Lakeview Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant that provided electricity—and pollution—to the region and blocked access to the Lake Ontario waterfront. The generating station was shut down in 2005 as the Government of Ontario moved towards more environmentally-friendly sources of energy. In a striking symbol of the transformation to follow, the Four Sisters—the plant’s iconic smokestacks that could be seen from Burlington to downtown Toronto—were demolished in 2006.

When the plant was shut down, late Mississauga councillor Jim Tovey spearheaded a bold vision for the site, Inspiration Lakeview. The plan called to remediate the former brownfield site, open the waterfront to the people of Mississauga, and to create a vibrant, complete community on the shores of Lake Ontario.

Lakeview Community Partners Limited (LCPL) purchased the 177-acre site from Ontario Power Generation (OPG) in 2018 to build upon the groundwork laid by Councillor Tovey. Once completed, Lakeview Village will be a sustainable mixed-use development with potential for as many as 10,000 residential units, 825,000 square feet available for employment, 130,000 square feet of retail, an innovation corridor, a public square, a brand-new conservation area, and more than three kilometers of uninterrupted lakefront trails. As a part of the purchase, 67 acres of waterfront land will be remediated and transferred back to the city for citizens and visitors to enjoy.

Remediation is one of the main challenges when transforming a former industrial brownfield site into a livable community. OPG began the process of cleaning up the site, and when Lakeview Community Partners acquired the property a lot of progress had already been made. Initial soil samples showed minimal amounts of contaminants.

The uniqueness of the site cannot be overstated—a large blank canvas on Lake Ontario, within easy commuting distance to downtown Toronto. Given the history of the site, there is a huge responsibility to create a sustainable, green community that will stand the test of time and create a model for future waterfront developments. That responsibility largely falls to Lakeview Community Partners, but it must be done in collaboration with all levels of government. It takes a true public-private partnership for these environmental initiatives to take hold.

Excavators work to remove the remaining concrete from the site.

LCPL is currently exploring several green initiatives to reduce the environmental footprint of the development. Given the proximity to a Peel Region wastewater treatment plant, district energy may make sense. The system would take effluent water from the plant and harness the energy to heat and cool the development.

Also, in a development of this scale, vacuum waste collection maybe a viable solution. In essence, a series of pneumatic tubes collects waste and transports refuse to a central location where it can be sorted and disposed of. This would majorly decrease the number of garbage trucks required to service the community, significantly reducing emissions and truck traffic. It would also change the way people think about their waste, promoting recycling, and reducing the amount of garbage generated within the development.

The key to a sustainable, modern development is transit. Lakeview Village currently sits between two GO Train commuter stations. LCPL is working with the city on options to transport residents from the development to those stations, whether that’s city buses, bus rapid transit, light rail, or innovative shuttles. Another benefit with opening up the waterfront is an additional three kilometers of a newly constructed uninterrupted segment of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail that will be a conduit of active transportation connecting from Burlington to Toronto, allowing people to travel efficiently without a car. How people move in and out of the development is an area where Lakeview Community Partners is relying on leadership and collaboration with various levels of government.

What the site looked like once all of the infrastructure of the former coal-power generating station was removed.

While government buy-in is necessary, density is also a requirement for a development of this size. Waterfront parks and retail need a critical mass to be viable; transit solutions don’t work if there isn’t adequate ridership. District energy doesn’t make sense if there aren’t enough homes to heat and cool. These green endeavors require a critical mass of users, as well as enough people to make them economically viable. However, the need for critical mass needs to be balanced with the availability of services and a pedestrian scaled public realm. As an entirely new community is being created on Mississauga’s waterfront, people require transit, utilities, garbage collection, and all of the other services provided by local government. These needs highlight the importance of finding the correct balance of density and public support. As Councillor Jim Tovey used to say, the development needs to earn the sky.

As LCPL moves through the planning process, the question of density is one of the many considerations. How much density is required to reach a critical mass of people that will ensure the success of the retail, environmental, transportation, and cultural facets of Lakeview? Where are the optimal locations to place density on the site? What is the most responsible housing mix to create that density? Lakeview Village will mainly be a mid-rise community, with some higher elements and urban townhomes. There will be homes for the missing middle—affordable units for working people, seniors, and families. Density will be clustered around green features, creating natural paths down to the lake while maintaining and enhancing views of the water. The development will bring a whole new population to the area, and it’s important that it is done in a responsible way.

Creating a vibrant complete community destination and a model for future waterfront developments, requires a balance of private and public investment to ensure the former brownfield site is ready for new residents. It also requires that transit is available and that the community is built in a sustainable way that will stand the test of time. Remediating the former site of a coal fired power plant will give acres of prime waterfront back to the citizens of Mississauga, and that’s something that is worth investing in.

Download article PDF