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Planned Sprawl in the GTA

doady

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I'm just offended that mississauga valley's were built in the 80's, they look like damn 60s buildings. it's not like the buildings back then were particularly interesting to begin with...

but something that I really like from brampton is the mount pleasant area by the GO station, areas like that should be the rule, not the exception. I wished that highrises on the city edges were like the 60s (except the towers in the park), because everyone likes a skyline
Yeah I always thought Mississauga Valleys was early 70s but they are actually late 70s and early 80s. Not just because the buildings themselves but also the massive open space around them. The buildings are Webb Dr. and Kariya Dr were only a few years later and they were built much closer together and closer to the sidewalk.

I like the way Creditview in Brampton is lined with townhouses but the GO station itself probably should have been surrounded with mid-rises or high-rises, something like what Markham is doing around Unionville GO.

The lack of new high-rises and mid-rises in Brampton is very strange. Even Oakville has their Uptown Core. And there was that whole anti-LRT debacle too. The anti-density and anti-transit attitudes in Brampton is not on the same level as in the US but it's closer to the US than anywhere else in the GTA.
 

BhadPetrov

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Yeah I always thought Mississauga Valleys was early 70s but they are actually late 70s and early 80s. Not just because the buildings themselves but also the massive open space around them. The buildings are Webb Dr. and Kariya Dr were only a few years later and they were built much closer together and closer to the sidewalk.

I like the way Creditview in Brampton is lined with townhouses but the GO station itself probably should have been surrounded with mid-rises or high-rises, something like what Markham is doing around Unionville GO.

The lack of new high-rises and mid-rises in Brampton is very strange. Even Oakville has their Uptown Core. And there was that whole anti-LRT debacle too. The anti-density and anti-transit attitudes in Brampton is not on the same level as in the US but it's closer to the US than anywhere else in the GTA.
yeah, Brampton is weird to say the least when it comes to planning, they say they want to develop transit and become urban with outlandish plans like Brampton 2041, but also continue to build the same suburbia they are trying not to be and like you said, they killed off the LRT because it took away 2 of 4 car lanes. Not only that atrocity of politics but their bike infra is definitely, questionable and makes those bike lanes on confederation pkwy look like they were well thought out
 
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anthiolaw

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Yeah I always thought Mississauga Valleys was early 70s but they are actually late 70s and early 80s. Not just because the buildings themselves but also the massive open space around them. The buildings are Webb Dr. and Kariya Dr were only a few years later and they were built much closer together and closer to the sidewalk.

I like the way Creditview in Brampton is lined with townhouses but the GO station itself probably should have been surrounded with mid-rises or high-rises, something like what Markham is doing around Unionville GO.

The lack of new high-rises and mid-rises in Brampton is very strange. Even Oakville has their Uptown Core. And there was that whole anti-LRT debacle too. The anti-density and anti-transit attitudes in Brampton is not on the same level as in the US but it's closer to the US than anywhere else in the GTA.
Yes I agree with that completely. For a city with more than 600 000 people, Brampton is truly lacking with mid-rise or high-rise buildings. I will be completely honest to say that I think that even Oakville (which has a third of Brampton's population) has more high rise buildings than Brampton. What Brampton has done is waste a lot of precious development space in new and upcoming communities. With the Uptown Core in Oakville aside, there are many mid-rise buildings being built along Dundas Street in general. There are currently mid-rise developments stretching from Neyegawa Boulevard all the way to Eighth Line. The layout of new Oakville communities is very smart and larger cities such as Brampton can really benefit from similar layouts. In North Oakville, you have mid-rise buildings lining up along Dundas Street. Then, you have townhouses behind these mid-rise buildings. Finally, the single detached homes and semi-detached homes are further back. Furthermore, there are numerous Work/Live units in North Oakville. This really helps the local economy, not only on a municipal level but in the community's whole. What is happening in Oakville is a creation of aesthetic neighbourhoods that function well and will continue to function well in the future. In Brampton, that is simply not happening. You have townhouses all over the place. Additionally, there are so many detached homes that take up so much space. Around Mount Pleasant GO, I agree with what others have said saying that townhouses are helping increase transit ridership. However, it is not as effective as mid-rise and high-rise developments. Brampton has a major advantage over North Oakville, it has GO Train service. Although North Oakville is easily connected to Oakville GO by transit, Mount Pleasant still has a notable advantage. What Brampton is doing is that they are not taking advantage of the amazing resource that they have. Townhouses and Semi-Detached Homes may solve some problems but they are certainly not going to work in years to come. Also, I think that mid-rise buildings work best around Mount Pleasant GO and will not be too hard to sell. People like the added convenience of being near a train station, however, not everybody likes the sound of trains passing by. Mid-Rise Buildings will be able to act as a buffer for the noise coming from the trains. Additionally, retail space can be added to the lower floors which would be beneficial for not only train commuters but also to the Mount Pleasant community. Everything aside, Brampton needs to step up their game.
 

doady

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Brampton has more high-rises than Oakville, but most of those are old. Newer high-rises Brampton probably has much less.

To be fair, Mount Pleasant is nicer than most GO stations, but the density could have been more ambitious, especially given the proximity also to a major intersection. There is still some room so maybe they will still build a few high-rises or more mid-rises there, but it still seems a waste of a rare opportunity.

In addition to Dundas Street in Oakville, see also what Milton is doing along Main Street. A bit more ambitious than Mount Pleasant, let alone the other parts of Brampton. Even a half-hearted attempt to build a new transit corridor like Eglinton in Mississauga is something that Brampton lacks.

They think too much about completely transforming existing neighbhourhoods to become more urban like in their "2040" plan but they've thought little about trying to build new neighbourhoods correctly from the very beginning which probably would have been easier.
 

anthiolaw

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Brampton has more high-rises than Oakville, but most of those are old. Newer high-rises Brampton probably has much less.

To be fair, Mount Pleasant is nicer than most GO stations, but the density could have been more ambitious, especially given the proximity also to a major intersection. There is still some room so maybe they will still build a few high-rises or more mid-rises there, but it still seems a waste of a rare opportunity.

In addition to Dundas Street in Oakville, see also what Milton is doing along Main Street. A bit more ambitious than Mount Pleasant, let alone the other parts of Brampton. Even a half-hearted attempt to build a new transit corridor like Eglinton in Mississauga is something that Brampton lacks.

They think too much about completely transforming existing neighbhourhoods to become more urban like in their "2040" plan but they've thought little about trying to build new neighbourhoods correctly from the very beginning which probably would have been easier.
Exactly! I agree 100%. Sure, it only makes sense that Brampton has more high-rises than Oakville for various reasons. But you have pointed something out, most high-rises in Brampton are relatively old. It's like they have forgotten(?) about high-rise buildings. In terms of high-rises in Oakville, there may not be many present right now, but there have already been many developments planned along Dundas and they are doing great (especially with plans for BRT along Dundas, etc...). In Brampton, you just don't see that. Sure there is still some space to build around Mount Pleasant but they really missed out a bunch. It's nice that you pointed out Milton because I have lived there. They are doing a great job, especially near the GO station. There is a high-rise development happening around the Milton GO Station right now which will certainly take advantage of the future of GO Transit in Milton. If a smaller municipality like Milton and Oakville can effectively connect transit to people, Brampton can do it. Although Milton Transit is not the best, they are getting better. The transit ridership can certainly improve in Milton (and it already is improving). Brampton is just not thinking hard enough and I think you can agree with that. They have a lot but they are lacking organization. I am 100% behind your word and think that Brampton needs to think before building neighbourhoods or they are only going to cause more trouble for themselves in the future. They need to spend time thinking so they don't have to be fixing later on.
 

Memph

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Yes I agree with that completely. For a city with more than 600 000 people, Brampton is truly lacking with mid-rise or high-rise buildings. I will be completely honest to say that I think that even Oakville (which has a third of Brampton's population) has more high rise buildings than Brampton. What Brampton has done is waste a lot of precious development space in new and upcoming communities. With the Uptown Core in Oakville aside, there are many mid-rise buildings being built along Dundas Street in general. There are currently mid-rise developments stretching from Neyegawa Boulevard all the way to Eighth Line. The layout of new Oakville communities is very smart and larger cities such as Brampton can really benefit from similar layouts. In North Oakville, you have mid-rise buildings lining up along Dundas Street. Then, you have townhouses behind these mid-rise buildings. Finally, the single detached homes and semi-detached homes are further back. Furthermore, there are numerous Work/Live units in North Oakville. This really helps the local economy, not only on a municipal level but in the community's whole. What is happening in Oakville is a creation of aesthetic neighbourhoods that function well and will continue to function well in the future. In Brampton, that is simply not happening. You have townhouses all over the place. Additionally, there are so many detached homes that take up so much space. Around Mount Pleasant GO, I agree with what others have said saying that townhouses are helping increase transit ridership. However, it is not as effective as mid-rise and high-rise developments. Brampton has a major advantage over North Oakville, it has GO Train service. Although North Oakville is easily connected to Oakville GO by transit, Mount Pleasant still has a notable advantage. What Brampton is doing is that they are not taking advantage of the amazing resource that they have. Townhouses and Semi-Detached Homes may solve some problems but they are certainly not going to work in years to come. Also, I think that mid-rise buildings work best around Mount Pleasant GO and will not be too hard to sell. People like the added convenience of being near a train station, however, not everybody likes the sound of trains passing by. Mid-Rise Buildings will be able to act as a buffer for the noise coming from the trains. Additionally, retail space can be added to the lower floors which would be beneficial for not only train commuters but also to the Mount Pleasant community. Everything aside, Brampton needs to step up their game.
Mt. Pleasant actually has several 3 storey mixed use buildings at the center of the community, as well as some 4 storey apartment buildings.

I think the advantage of Mt. Pleasant's model is that the phasing with somewhat lower densities allowed it to be built more quickly, and create a cohesive urban fabric relatively quickly. Meanwhile, with Uptown Oakville, you still have a bunch of big box stores with football field sized parking lots in the middle of the community ruining the urban fabric. It was that way two decades ago when the first homes started being built around Parkhaven Boulevard, and it will probably take 2-3 more decades before they're done being redeveloped into something more urban.

Meanwhile, with Mt. Pleasant, you went from farm fields to a nice vibrant little square surrounded by shops, a community centre and train station in just a couple years.

The downside with Mt. Pleasant is that I'm not sure how much of a plan there is to incrementally build up the place from here on out. There should have been a plan to build new higher density phases, for example, south of the GO station, and even to start replacing some of the townhouses and SFHs with midrises and highrises a few decades down the line. Having room for a grocery store, so that people walking home from the train station can pick a few things up for dinner would have been a great solution, and the way the areas around train stations eventually get built up in other parts of the world like in Japan.

Ultimately, your typical Brampton subdivision has somewhat limited potential for being urban. The best you can do is reduce auto-mode share from 85% to 75% or something, if you do everything right with the community's design... I think the problem with planning in the GTA is that there's not enough consideration given to location, even though people should know by now that location is a critical point. The better the location, the greater the potential to across jobs, dense housing and serve with transit.

For example, I think the potential for the area around Bloor GO Station is being squandered. Planning authorities should be looking at it as a great location for a potential secondary employment hub as Downtown starts to run out of space within walking distance of Union Station for new office buildings. You have the Bloor subway, Milton, Kitchener and Barrie lines all passing through there, and the potential for a new West-DRL subway and Bolton/Alliston line at some point in the future, and you could eventually through-run trains from the eastern GTA too. It's quite accessible to the executive class of North Toronto and extremely accessible to the executive class of Central Etobicoke/High Park, and very accessible to the professional class of densely populated West Toronto, as well as several large commercial and industrial properties that would be quite easy to redevelop into large office buildings.

If you compare to a place like Markham Centre, although both are served by rail transit, the're a huge difference in accessibility between being served by 4 lines (and possibly eventually 6+) and centrally located within the GTA vs 1 line, and on the edge of the GTA. I'm not saying don't build density in Markham Centre, if you do build some in York Region, that's one of the better spots, and it's better than building more sprawl, but I think as the economy is shifting away from industrial employment, which requires sprawled out employment lands in the suburbs, towards retail/institutional/office employment that can be much more compact, we should try to have as much of the new jobs, and residences of the people holding those jobs, be in the more transit friendly locations.
 

anthiolaw

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Mt. Pleasant actually has several 3 storey mixed use buildings at the center of the community, as well as some 4 storey apartment buildings.

I think the advantage of Mt. Pleasant's model is that the phasing with somewhat lower densities allowed it to be built more quickly, and create a cohesive urban fabric relatively quickly. Meanwhile, with Uptown Oakville, you still have a bunch of big box stores with football field sized parking lots in the middle of the community ruining the urban fabric. It was that way two decades ago when the first homes started being built around Parkhaven Boulevard, and it will probably take 2-3 more decades before they're done being redeveloped into something more urban.

Meanwhile, with Mt. Pleasant, you went from farm fields to a nice vibrant little square surrounded by shops, a community centre and train station in just a couple years.

The downside with Mt. Pleasant is that I'm not sure how much of a plan there is to incrementally build up the place from here on out. There should have been a plan to build new higher density phases, for example, south of the GO station, and even to start replacing some of the townhouses and SFHs with midrises and highrises a few decades down the line. Having room for a grocery store, so that people walking home from the train station can pick a few things up for dinner would have been a great solution, and the way the areas around train stations eventually get built up in other parts of the world like in Japan.

Ultimately, your typical Brampton subdivision has somewhat limited potential for being urban. The best you can do is reduce auto-mode share from 85% to 75% or something, if you do everything right with the community's design... I think the problem with planning in the GTA is that there's not enough consideration given to location, even though people should know by now that location is a critical point. The better the location, the greater the potential to across jobs, dense housing and serve with transit.

For example, I think the potential for the area around Bloor GO Station is being squandered. Planning authorities should be looking at it as a great location for a potential secondary employment hub as Downtown starts to run out of space within walking distance of Union Station for new office buildings. You have the Bloor subway, Milton, Kitchener and Barrie lines all passing through there, and the potential for a new West-DRL subway and Bolton/Alliston line at some point in the future, and you could eventually through-run trains from the eastern GTA too. It's quite accessible to the executive class of North Toronto and extremely accessible to the executive class of Central Etobicoke/High Park, and very accessible to the professional class of densely populated West Toronto, as well as several large commercial and industrial properties that would be quite easy to redevelop into large office buildings.

If you compare to a place like Markham Centre, although both are served by rail transit, the're a huge difference in accessibility between being served by 4 lines (and possibly eventually 6+) and centrally located within the GTA vs 1 line, and on the edge of the GTA. I'm not saying don't build density in Markham Centre, if you do build some in York Region, that's one of the better spots, and it's better than building more sprawl, but I think as the economy is shifting away from industrial employment, which requires sprawled out employment lands in the suburbs, towards retail/institutional/office employment that can be much more compact, we should try to have as much of the new jobs, and residences of the people holding those jobs, be in the more transit friendly locations.
Yes but Brampton is not really prepared for an urban future. In a few decades, what will Brampton do? Tear down buildings? In a few decades, Oakville will have land available for development. There is no need to further develop Oakville's Uptown Core right now because it is simply unnecessary. By having the space available for the future, buildings will suit the future demographics. Because we can only predict so much, having land available in the future will minimize the risk of making mistakes. Additionally, it allows for more modern buildings to be built in the future because it is inevitable that building designs will be different in decades to come. What is happening in North Oakville (near Uptown Core) is great because it supports the needs of the population today. That said, the empty patches of land near Uptown Core will be able to support the needs of the next generation of Oakville residents. Urban sprawls need to be contained. I get it, builders in Brampton were trying to fill as much land in a short period of time. In a few decades, however, do you really think they are going to tear down townhouses to build high-rise buildings? Sure, the Uptown Core may not look like much right now compared to Mount Pleasant but wasn't that the goal of the Uptown Core? Oakville housing prices are so high, why didn't they just put a bunch of detached homes in the empty land you see at Uptown Core in Oakville? Oakville is thinking smart, Brampton, once again (and I emphasize this time) needs to step up their game.

The Bloor GO Station is definitely a great location. However, it is not really being squandered right now. It still shows a lot of promise for the future. Especially with Union Station West happening eventually, there will be a lot of possibilities stretching along the train tracks from Pearson to Downtown Toronto.
 

Memph

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Yes but Brampton is not really prepared for an urban future. In a few decades, what will Brampton do? Tear down buildings? In a few decades, Oakville will have land available for development. There is no need to further develop Oakville's Uptown Core right now because it is simply unnecessary. By having the space available for the future, buildings will suit the future demographics. Because we can only predict so much, having land available in the future will minimize the risk of making mistakes. Additionally, it allows for more modern buildings to be built in the future because it is inevitable that building designs will be different in decades to come. What is happening in North Oakville (near Uptown Core) is great because it supports the needs of the population today. That said, the empty patches of land near Uptown Core will be able to support the needs of the next generation of Oakville residents. Urban sprawls need to be contained. I get it, builders in Brampton were trying to fill as much land in a short period of time. In a few decades, however, do you really think they are going to tear down townhouses to build high-rise buildings? Sure, the Uptown Core may not look like much right now compared to Mount Pleasant but wasn't that the goal of the Uptown Core? Oakville housing prices are so high, why didn't they just put a bunch of detached homes in the empty land you see at Uptown Core in Oakville? Oakville is thinking smart, Brampton, once again (and I emphasize this time) needs to step up their game.

The Bloor GO Station is definitely a great location. However, it is not really being squandered right now. It still shows a lot of promise for the future. Especially with Union Station West happening eventually, there will be a lot of possibilities stretching along the train tracks from Pearson to Downtown Toronto.
My ideal approach would be to rethink the way we zone and plan developments completely. So yes, that would mean tearing down townhouses and SFHs to build midrises/highrises for later stages. There's nothing crazy about that, like the area around WLU in Waterloo has been seeing some approx 30 year old triplexes get demolished for highrises. The most extreme examples might be in Shenzhen, China where 10-20 year old midrises are getting replaced with highrises but we don't have to go that extreme.

I think the way to do that is to set up the community as being in a state of constant evolution. For example, you could encourage the community to build out certain areas quickly, such as by having the property taxes be mostly land value based which disincentives leaving land vacant/underdeveloped for decades. But the max density limits could be something like 4x the FSI of the two adjacent properties, that way a low density SFH can get replaced by stacked townhouses or lowrise apartments, which allows the adjacent SFHs to upgrade to midrises, which allows the stacked townhouses to get replaced with highrises. That could also cause local residents to view redevelopment more favorably, since if their neighbouring properties get redeveloped, it increases the development potential/zoning of their own property and therefore its valuation.

I know that's not what Brampton has planned, but my point is the ideal approach would have elements of both approaches. The relatively rapid initial build out (of at least some key areas) that Mt Pleasant had, so that there aren't as many large gaps in development that remain there for decades, but with the potential for relatively high densities later in the future like how it is with Oakville's Uptown Core.

(What's the plan for the lands south of the Mt Pleasant GO station include the parking lots? Those should definitely go to high densities)

As for Bloor GO, my main concerns are that it hasn't been identified as a zone with major potential like Yonge & Eglinton, Etobicoke Centre and the other urban growth centres, and that a lot of the best plots of land are being developed into condos when those should have more offices and the condos should be a bit further from the train/subway stations. Do you think stops on the Milton and Barrie Lines will be added anytime soon on Bloor Street?

Barring the complete overhaul in the way we do zoning that I proposed (which I realize is somewhat of a pipe dream), I think you could still achieve ok outcomes with smart phasing. Like instead of building an extremely auto-oriented big box complex, you could've done something that's more pedestrian friendly while being auto-accessible, like the Don Mills mall redevelopment, centered around the bus terminal, and then gradually redevelop the parking lots and single storey commercial buildings with highrises, again like Don Mills is doing.
 
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W. K. Lis

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Bookmark this for reference:

Ontario government urges winding down of conservation programs to conserve cash

See link.

The cash-strapped (allegedly) Progressive Conservative government is hoping to conserve money by winding down some conservation programs.

Conservation Ontario said local municipalities and conservation authorities were been told in a letter last Friday from Premier Doug Ford’s administration to shut down any initiatives that are not related to their “core mandate.”

“This is confusing and extremely disappointing,” said Kim Gavine, general manager of the association representing the province’s 36 conservation authorities that oversee watershed management and other ecological matters.

“We’ve been caught completely by surprise. We’ve been working for months in good faith with the government to make a number of planning and development approvals streamlining changes to support their agenda to eliminate the deficit and implement the housing strategy,” Glavine said.

The changes were first reported Monday by the National Observer, an online news publication.

Environment Minister Jeff Yurek confirmed late Monday night that the letter had been sent to Conservation Ontario.

“Over the years, conservation authorities have expanded past their core mandate into activities such as zip-lining, maple syrup festivals and photography and wedding permits,” he said.

Yurek noted the Tories had signaled the changes in the More Homes, More Choice Act earlier this year, the legislation designed to make it easier to build new homes.
 

doady

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My ideal approach would be to rethink the way we zone and plan developments completely. So yes, that would mean tearing down townhouses and SFHs to build midrises/highrises for later stages. There's nothing crazy about that, like the area around WLU in Waterloo has been seeing some approx 30 year old triplexes get demolished for highrises. The most extreme examples might be in Shenzhen, China where 10-20 year old midrises are getting replaced with highrises but we don't have to go that extreme.

I think the way to do that is to set up the community as being in a state of constant evolution. For example, you could encourage the community to build out certain areas quickly, such as by having the property taxes be mostly land value based which disincentives leaving land vacant/underdeveloped for decades. But the max density limits could be something like 4x the FSI of the two adjacent properties, that way a low density SFH can get replaced by stacked townhouses or lowrise apartments, which allows the adjacent SFHs to upgrade to midrises, which allows the stacked townhouses to get replaced with highrises. That could also cause local residents to view redevelopment more favorably, since if their neighbouring properties get redeveloped, it increases the development potential/zoning of their own property and therefore its valuation.

I know that's not what Brampton has planned, but my point is the ideal approach would have elements of both approaches. The relatively rapid initial build out (of at least some key areas) that Mt Pleasant had, so that there aren't as many large gaps in development that remain there for decades, but with the potential for relatively high densities later in the future like how it is with Oakville's Uptown Core.

(What's the plan for the lands south of the Mt Pleasant GO station include the parking lots? Those should definitely go to high densities)

As for Bloor GO, my main concerns are that it hasn't been identified as a zone with major potential like Yonge & Eglinton, Etobicoke Centre and the other urban growth centres, and that a lot of the best plots of land are being developed into condos when those should have more offices and the condos should be a bit further from the train/subway stations. Do you think stops on the Milton and Barrie Lines will be added anytime soon on Bloor Street?

Barring the complete overhaul in the way we do zoning that I proposed (which I realize is somewhat of a pipe dream), I think you could still achieve ok outcomes with smart phasing. Like instead of building an extremely auto-oriented big box complex, you could've done something that's more pedestrian friendly while being auto-accessible, like the Don Mills mall redevelopment, centered around the bus terminal, and then gradually redevelop the parking lots and single storey commercial buildings with highrises, again like Don Mills is doing.
Redevelopment is probably not a simple matter of rezoning. The idea of building new neighbourhoods to be temporary and quickly demolished in the near future is definitely not something that should be encouraged. Neighbourhoods should always be built for the future, not just the present.

I don't see much if any advantage in consuming land as much as possible anyways. High-density takes up so little space compared to low density (that's the whole of high density after all), preserving land for it as Oakville is doing for Uptown Core would make very little difference overall to the city.

Imagine of everything around Square One was just regular detached houses instead. Would rezoning give us all those high-rise condominiums and street-level retail? Why do things the hard way instead of the easy way? What would Mississauga have gained?

Power centres and big box is different because the buildings are always built very cheaply. They are only meant to last a couple of decades. And most of the land is parking lots anyways, and all under the same owner. Completely different situation to a residential neighbourhood like Mount Pleasant. Brampton can rezone now it all they want, but Mount Pleasant is not going to be redeveloped.
 
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