By: Scott Way
While other famous oceanfront cities like San Francisco, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, and Sydney serve as international beacons for commerce and culture, Canadian freshwater cities have never been held in quite the same regard. Vancouver may be Canada's closest nominee, albeit with its place on the saltwater Pacific coast and proximity to major international trade routes, but an inland freshwater city has rarely achieved international status.
That may be set to change with the announcement that the city of Toronto has has approved a $75 million waterfront expansion to the Port Credit Harbour Marina in Mississauga. Details of the announcement were covered by Insauga.com.
After a year long wait, officials at the City of Mississauga received their approval to proceed from Ontario's Ministry of Environment. The redevelopment plan is set to make use of Ontario's deepest natural harbour and create a massive economic hub and sought-after destination for boaters, city residents, and tourists alike. The burgeoning commercial traffic on the Great Lakes may also influence the development as shipping demands between Canada and the US continue to grow.
The final hurdle is the Ontario government itself, who must approve the overall project, at which point the city is hoping to secure funding from both the provincial and federal governments to offset development costs. The city of Mississauga has already applied for $52 million in funding from the provincial government's Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP).
According to Mississauga mayor Bonnie Crombie, "Our goal is to create a new destination for recreation, tourism and economic development."
However, Ward 1 city councilor Stephen Dasko qualified Crombie's statement with the need for short term funding to get the project underway.
“There is an absolute urgency to move forward; it’s vital. It’s imperative to keep a marina in Port Credit…it’s a positive in terms of business, as a tourist mecca. It checks all the boxes.” Dasko also added that the project will create roughly 200 construction jobs and another 200 employment opportunities at both the marina and the surrounding retail landscape.
The lease on the existing marina, which does not currently have public access, is set to expire in 2023. The redevelopment is intended to open the waterfront to the public while also maintaining the existing boating culture. One of the unknowns, however, is that commercial vessels are currently not allowed in the harbour. It remains to be seen whether plans will eventually include commercial tourist vessels or industrial traffic, or if it will remain strictly for recreational boaters.
Another change will be the removal of a major landmark, the Ridgetown (previously known as the SS William E. Corey) a retired commercial freighter that has served as a breakwater at the entrance to the harbour. It is also a well-known navigational aid for boats traveling along the waterfront. Current plans show that the Ridgetown will be cut up and removed.
The existing Port Credit Harbour Marina will see its lease expire in 2023. In its place, a mixed-use neighbourhood is proposed on the wharf with the new marina being built on the eastern portion of the site between Elizabeth and Helene streets. Shopping, dining, and housing developments are also planned for later stages of the development.