How districts change

Barberry Lane streetscape in the Meadowvale Village HCD (Photo: City of Mississauga)

Photo: Barberry Lane streetscape in the Meadowvale Village HCD (Photo: City of Mississauga)


Mark Warrack

Buildings and architecture, Community, Tools for conservation

Published Date: May 10, 2013

Meadowvale Village – a once-small, rural village – is located on the Credit River at the north end of the City of Mississauga. In the late 1960s, the village residents recognized the heritage value of their small community in light of a quickly growing city. They formed an association, which continues to this day, with a focus on how to seek protection of the village’s cultural heritage. Twelve years later, in 1980, Meadowvale Village became Ontario’s first Ontario Municipal Board-approved heritage conservation district (HCD).

When Meadowvale became an HCD, it was a small rural village with farmers’ fields to the south and east and conservation lands along the Credit River to the north and west. The village is characterized by large lots with small, simple vernacular homes within the original land divisions of 1856. The HCD maintains the character of narrow roads, overhanging trees, mostly residential use (with only one commercial property) and a generally transparent transition from the public to private realm.

Heritage conservation districts were new to Ontario at the time, so the Meadowvale Village HCD Plan was created without the benefit of models or examples on which to build. Therefore, this HCD Plan became the model for others that soon followed.

You might ask why an HCD would change. Are not HCDs created to monitor and direct change? There are a number of factors that have had an influence on Meadowvale Village as an HCD. These pressures, too, would not be specific to Meadowvale Village.

Today, there is suburban housing adjacent to the village on two sides. Prior to the surrounding development, the HCD was very stable with a core of long-term residents. Properties did not come on the market. An aging population, however, changed all that. As the older, original families left, new families moved in – many from these new, adjacent subdivisions. In many cases, the new residents were looking to renovate and enlarge these small homes, adapting them to 21st-century lifestyles.

As an HCD, Meadowvale Village has seen changes in lot severances, increased traffic and vehicle needs, service upgrades, encroaching subdivisions and evolving adjacent landscapes. There has been a shift from conserving built or architectural details to ensure that the overall cultural heritage value of the village is preserved. This interest is aligned with a more recent acknowledgment of the importance of cultural heritage landscapes.

The 1980 HCD Plan is currently under review, to be updated with improved design guidelines by the end of 2013. The minor changes to the village have been for the few new lots and houses, but the bigger change over the last 30 years has been the evolving expectations of the community. The current desire to incorporate modern subdivision amenities into the Meadowvale Village HCD is a focus of change that will be a heritage conservation challenge for the next generation.