City still concerned about controversial convent and senior’s residence in Mississauga

 

Mississauga city council has asked for significantly more information to be provided in relation to a now scaled-down proposal to build a large, multi-storey Catholic nun convent and apartment complex at the southwest corner of Mississauga Rd. and Dundas St. W.

The land, currently owned by the Carmelite Sisters of Canada, has been chosen as the potential site of a controversial development that has raised the ire of both residents and councillors who believe there are too many issues with access, size, and character. 

The site is currently occupied by a convent and retirement home, but the retirement home ceased operations in 2015. 

At a recent planning and development committee meeting, project architect Michael Spaziani told residents and council that the developer has agreed to scale down the development in light of feedback from concerned parties.

Initially, the proposal asked for a convent and six-storey complex consisting of 166 seniors' apartments, 156 assisted living units and 26 convent units. 

Now, Spaziani says developers are willing to reduce the height of the complex from six storeys to five stories, with a reduced fifth floor. He also told council that the revised plan—which had not yet been submitted to council as of the Feb. 24 meeting—reduced the building area by about 50,000 square feet. 

He also said the unit count has been reduced to about 260 suites, but added that the exact number of units has yet to be determined. He also said the new plans have moved the surface parking further away from the residential boundary. 

The convent remains a two-storey component in the new plan. 

"This is the plan as it's been amended. The heights have been changed. We're willing to do what needs to be done to make this a compatible development in this community," Spaziani told council. 

The lengthy discussion, which featured 19 deputations from residents who spoke out both in favour of and against the development in its current iteration, raised more questions than it answered in some cases, especially regarding who will own and operate the different aspects of the development and how the developers plan to provide access to the proposed property off of Dundas Rd. (as of now, the building would only be accessible by a residential road). 

In a recent report, the city said a traffic safety review of reopening Dundas Street access would be necessary. 

While Spaziani said that the developer conducted research that suggested a Dundas St. access point was a possibility, Ward 8 Councillor Matt Mahoney said more information was needed and that comparisons to the equally controversial development proposed for the nearby Piatto Restaurant site weren't appropriate.

"One challenge is the lack of communication with our staff on this. I wanted to clarify that because the Piatto's site has direct access off of Dundas, this only has access off a residential street," Mahoney said. 

Some attendees voiced displeasure with the application, arguing that it was too large and would create traffic issues. Other residents spoke out in favour of the project, with the first speaker arguing that seniors desperately need new housing options.

Councillors agreed that more housing for seniors is needed and emphasized that the city wants to support the sisters in their desire to build a convent and complex for the elderly, but all who commented said that they need to see a new plan—likely with even more changes—in writing. 

"We all care about the sisters, but it's loud and clear that we need to find a resolution. They need to find something that works. This is a land-use planning issue and there are access issues and neighbourhood and character issues that need to be addressed," Mahoney said. 

"The ball is in the developer's court to work with the community and myself. There are outstanding reports that have not been filed, there are a lot of outstanding issues. Right now, this project doesn't work for all of these reasons. I suggest they go back to the drawing board and come up with something that is feasible."  

Cover photo courtesy of a City of Mississauga PDC report

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