Mississauga seeking MZO to construct Ontario’s largest film and TV studio

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Mississauga city council is hoping a Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO) will be granted by the province to speed up construction of a new a film and television studio on a 15-acre site in the city.

The proposal from Studio Bottega Inc. is to construct a purpose-built studio in the Gateway Corporate Centre. If approved, the project will include two four-storey buildings, each with six stages for production services, service towers, offices, stage support and mill facilities. The total project would cover about 455,000 square feet.

It is estimated the project would create 3,296 construction jobs and 5,600 permanent jobs and have a $530 million annual impact on the city’s economy.

“We’re so thrilled about the potential of adding another film studio to Mississauga and what it could mean for the city in terms of job creation and strengthening our film and performing arts sectors,” Mayor Bonnie Crombie said in a statement following the May 5 council meeting.

The film studio would be the largest of its kind in Ontario and would be located at the southeast corner of Derry Road and Maritz Drive, on the west side of Hurontario Street.

The request will be forwarded to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

If the proposal moves forward, the 6.07 hectare (15 acres) site would be the largest film studio complex in Ontario.

An MZO would speed up the process for the necessary rezoning.

The project says an MZO can be used by municipalities, “only when it will provide public benefits including affordable housing, public health improvements and significant job creation.”

The process is not without risk, however. An MZO allows the province to decide what projects can be built on a given site. The province’s decision is final, and cannot be appealed. And while there was strong support for the move to request an MZO at the council meeting, city politicians are aware that Mississauga has not had fantastic luck on previous applications.

In a motion, Councillor Carolyn Parrish said “Studio Bottega will be a meaningful addition to the film industry in our city, establishing Mississauga as a significant film location while assisting with the recovery of performing arts which have been particularly affected by the pandemic.

In a recent presentation to council, David McKay, a planner with Studio Bottega, told council that securing an MZO will allow the project to take shape faster.

“This is expediting what will ultimately happen,” McKay said. “It’s employment use on employment lands but we would save nine months of time through the order.”

Although just last February the city recommended in a corporate report that the province only grant MZOs “when it will provide public benefits including affordable housing,” council says the approval for this proposal “would provide a clear public benefit, shortening a process to meet deadlines without changing the probable outcome – a process for which MZOs were intended.”

Ward 5 Carolyn Parrish said that she’s in support of asking the province for an MZO.

“I know we’re opposed to MZOs on principle but…it won’t be some big warehouse looking thing right on Hurontario. I think it’s a great idea,” Parrish said.

“We have a film and movie sector growing and this will be the icing on the cake. As the local councillor, I’m absolutely delighted with this.”

Without an MZO, the official plan amendment and zoning bylaw amendment required to permit the project could take nine months or longer “which would place this project at risk of not meeting commitments made by the developers at this location,” the motion states.

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