With A Recent City Council Vote, The Master Plan for Mississauga’s Historical Britannia Farm Shifts Closer to Realization

Glancing westward, drivers heading north on Mississauga’s Hurontario Street just past Bristol Road, will notice a vast swath of fenced off agricultural land, topped by an 19th century school building.  That’s Mississauga’s historical Britannia Farm— land given by King William IV of England in 1833 to the education system of what was then the pioneering village of Britannia on this spot.

This 200 acres of land has been lying mostly vacant for decades, as modern Mississauga grew all around it.  The Peel District School Board, the owner of the land, has long deliberated what to do with it.  Over the years, they’ve tried a few programs, and rejected many purchase pitches from golf and property developers.  The land grant is protected by the condition that its use must be for educational purposes.

In 2016, Councillor Carolyn Parrish, Coun. George Carlson, and PDSB chair Janet McDougald worked out a Master Plan for the site that protects its educational mandate, but also gives Mississaugans a unique farm/park in the centre of the City, and allows for some development along Hurontario.

The Master Plan allots 168 acres of the land for agricultural and environmental programming, an educational urban farm, trails, wetlands, forest areas, a sugar bush where maple syrup will be made, and observation centres overlooking acres of conservation land.  The remaining 32 acres in the south-east corner were allocated for a mixed-use development that will finance the rest of the plan.

Earlier this month, the City of Mississauga approved a change to the city’s Official Plan for the future development of the Britannia Farm land. The Council changed the zoning of a 32 acre parcel of land located on Britannia Farm from institutional to mixed use, so it can be used for development.

These 32 acres are close to future Hurontario LRT stop and the soon-to-be-reinvigorated Hurontario Street corridor, so developers will likely pay a hefty price for the land, and that money will in turn pay for the transformation of the vacant and underused land into an agricultural and educational park.

“It’s a very proud day for me,” said Coun. Carolyn Parrish. “It’s been a long held dream for a few of us and…we’re going to grow that outdoor education centre and make it truly, truly amazing.”

To realize the plan, the historical buildings located on Britannia Farm — the red brick Britannia Schoolhouse (c. 1870), Britannia Farmhouse (c. 1860 and 1870), two-storey Gardney-Dunton House (c. 1830) and Conniver Barn (c. 1880), will be moved to a section of the farm that will be used for educational purposes.  That section will also include an improved Farm lane, a historic corridor that links the various zones together and connects the Farm to Hurontario Street.

The vision for Britannia Farm is grand and deftly marries the land’s historical goals and features with Mississauga’s modern aspirations.  Yet, there likely will be many hurdles to jump before the Britannia Farm Master Plan becomes a reality.  Still, with the recent council vote, the vision is gaining momentum, and the plan is starting to fall in place.