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Mississauga and the Lack of a Centralized Downtown

cropped-dsc_63781(Source: Lifelong Learning Mississauga)

Well, it’s been years since I’ve written anything on this website and a lot changed. I’ve graduated from Sheridan. After I graduated school a long time ago, I’ve been working as a web developer and a graphic designer. My main transportation was using the Mississauga Transit. For that that period of time while I was commuting, I had come to an inevitable conclusion: Mississauga is very spread out.

The thing is that Mississauga since the early 1970s, had pursued a policy of up scale suburban growth and development. Within 40 years, Mississauga went to be really successful of that. The problem is that Mississauga is in its next life cycle of all that infrastructure. Back in 2005, Mississauga decided to transform itself from a suburb to a proper city, looking at Toronto for its model. And so, Mississauga decided to build big buildings in the middle of the sprawl, especially around the regional shopping mall. It sort of worked, except it didn’t.

They’re not really building a city. What they’re doing is that they’re building a lot of big condos on top of a suburb. The roads are becoming overwhelmed by traffic because you can’t pack that many people onto an existing cul-de-sac and strip mall network, then to expect it to work. Now they’re running into physical problems with gridlock, and having to rethink their spread-out suburban development plan. The same thing can be said about Mississauga’s neighbor, Brampton. It’s in a sprawling mess too, however it still has a traditional downtown core.

sauga(Source: UrbanToronto)

btown(Source: UrbanToronto)

Both are at Highway 10 on the same day. Mississauga’s Hurontario near the city center (containing Square One Mall, office buildings, and high rise condos), very spread out and empty. Seems that its main purpose is to act as a 8-lane highway. At Brampton’s Hurontario (Main Street), it has a legitimate historic downtown that is amazingly centralized with everything at walking distance. It’s a shame that many people in Brampton live in the non-core sprawling parts that seem to dominate in the city.

It also shows that Mississauga doesn’t have an easily identifiable downtown because of its history. When people of Mississauga say “let’s go to downtown!”, they meant Toronto. When someone from Brampton says “let’s go to downtown!”, they’re referring to their small quaint downtown at Main St. In a way, Mississauga is still a part of Toronto. If it wants to be independent, its core has to distinguish itself.

Another issue is that when I look at the individual houses in Mississauga, they’re large, comfortable and attractive. But when I look at what are the houses are sitting on the outside world, it’s pretty grim. There’s just not a lot there to love. You have to drive everywhere all the time, whether you want to or not. Walking is not really a physical option (especially when you factor in weather conditions). Things are physically too far apart from each other. Being a pedestrian in Mississauga is a little challenging. The place is built exclusively for cars. It’s not to say that there’s no side walks or public transit, but the idea that you’re going to go from a subdivision across a busy 8-lane highway to a strip mall, it doesn’t really work. Even if you live in the luxury high rises in central Mississauga, it’s still really not made for people. It was built with intention that people will drive everywhere for everything, and that’s what the infrastructure provides for.

This could all change in the future, but it’s going to involve converting a lot of those parking lots and giant 8-lane roads into something that’s more human scale. It also has to have its public transportation have more links and routes within the city. It’s not always just about what’s physically possible and safe, it’s also about what’s pleasant. Getting people to walk short distances is difficult if it’s an unpleasant experience. For me, that experience was to wait and cross the hectic main roads.

I guess in the end of the day, it made me realize that I’d be personally more content living in a more smaller but dense rural town. Just so I can get away from the craziness.

 

Discussion

One thought on “Mississauga and the Lack of a Centralized Downtown

  1. Very interesting. Thank you for sharing.

    Posted by Michelle | August 26, 2016, 10:23

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