An urban planning proposal for the Port Credit waterfront is under consideration by the City of Mississauga, for a significant revitalization of the lakeside area of the community. Canada Lands Company (CLC), a Crown corporation, owns 1 Port Street East, which is south of the street, sandwiched between the mouth of Credit River to the west, and Lake Ontario to the east. It currently includes an 800-vessel marina and other related spaces such as boat storage, gas dock, repair and painting facility, surface parking, restaurant, and other small businesses. The waterfront property is mainly used in the summer for extensive marine leisure, but becomes a seldom used space for boating-related activities when colder months set in for a large part of the year.
CLC recently acquired the 27.7 hectare (68.4 acre) site from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and has, relatively quickly, set out to envision a vibrant and sustainable mixed use environment for the property. In the ninety-page document submitted, available at www.oneportstreet.com, CLC’s vision is one of a redevelopment that will provide the opportunity to enhance the village character of Port Credit and to create a greater year-round interest in the waterfront usage, through relaxation, employment and residential accommodation. The goal is to complement the existing marina, rather than displacing water-related leisure, which has formed such an important part of the community for the last forty years.
In order to approach the contextual renewal of the port lands, DTAH, the leading urban planner retained to produce the Master Plan, addresses the surrounding urban landscape and site influences.
Throughout the last few decades, the port has served to accommodate a variety of functions, including trading, industrial shipping, container storage, and finally, conversion into a recreational boating marina in the early 1970s. The surrounding elements of a property certainly constitute an important aspect of influential factors contributing to the redesign, and indeed to this effect, Lakeshore Road and the immediate North-South connecting streets are examined for pedestrian and vehicular movement towards the lake. From an internal context point of view, existing buildings (a three-storey office structure, and the marina wharf) are briefly looked at for their heights and width. The study is quick to point out that the wharf shed measures approximately the width of a typical development block (hint, hint!), although no further elaboration is provided. The marina itself is conveyed as an important focal point, in providing significant social interaction for the residents.
Further into its contextual analysis, services and transportation are extensively explored in the Master Plan. The document illustrates how the marina and existing businesses are exceptionally well located relative to the lakefront. According to DTAH, the issue wouldn’t be so much how to transport people to the lake, but rather what will be built that, indeed, attracts the locals to a renewed urban setting.
From an environmental perspective, the report identifies a level of industrial contamination that, while not considered critical, could be successfully addressed through an environmental management action plan, prior to re-development. Present pollution agents include metals and other inorganic materials, which appear to exist only in surface layers. However, these agents are in excess of current Ministry of Environment standards, and would have to be carefully addressed.
So, what other similar spaces are comparable to the proposal study? A short bullet-point description is provided of same-scale communities, such as the site-adjacent Fram/Slokker Development, as well as marinas in Vancouver, San Francisco and Malmo, Sweden. Feasibility programs of such marina developments present comprehensive planning and design challenges, as any mixed-use development will, but open public spaces as proposed here are generally welcomed by the surrounding communities, with a much sought-after social and leisure lake shore atmosphere.
After reading through the Master Plan, one gathers that local public opinion was perhaps one of the most important aspects of assembling such a document. The plan explores a fair bit of detail in illustrating topics, questions and outcome of public concerns. Three different ways of engaging public opinion were created, in order to address issues like public space, attractions, employment, residential, transit and traffic, the waterfront trail, year-round use, built form, etc. The first of these three methods of communication was the Community Reference Group (which the report, unfortunately, does not elaborate much on). The reference group served as predecessor to the second information vehicle, the highly engaging public consultation meetings. With three of these meetings taking place, dating as far back as May of 2012, and with the creation of the website (third vehicle), the Master Plan states that over 3,000 people were engaged, to keep a constant effort in maintaining the locals informed.
With all of the above taken into consideration, the Master Plan strategies center on extending the community - by providing easy pedestrian, cyclist and vehicular traffic to the water’s edge; and on population and employment - by creating 4 and 6-storey residential spaces for a healthy “live work and play” philosophy.
At the tail end of the study, two potential ideas are identified to realize CLC’s vision. One, a central marina variant, with an urban plaza located at the foot of Elizabeth Street; and an eastern marina variant, consisting of lake-filling at the foot of Elizabeth Street and Helene Street, to create a different waterfront zone and marina movement to the eastern breakwater.
Striving for a deeper social experience, by maintaining the existence of the marina for example, is a great way to approach a development for this waterside area. Like every interested member of the community, making good use of all available space for social interaction is an attractive idea. The sense of leisure will always positively resonate with any development connected to a shore line. And living by the water has always been appealing to the population. Who wouldn’t want to live by a marina, all year round? By implementing practical and attractive residential units, one would surely consider this as an interesting area to live in. True, there’s the harsh Southern Ontario winter to consider, but it is still a strong connection to nature. Throw in well planned vehicular and pedestrian access and well thought out public spaces and you have a recipe for a successful redevelopment of lakefront urban land. After all, this Master Plan is the result of listening to the opinions of thousands of local residents.
UrbanToronto will check back in with the One Port Street Master Plan as decisions are translated into developments.