Recently, some friends and I were scratching our heads, wondering what to do with the Powerade Centre. After all, it’s an Albatross, hopeless lost “In the Middle of Nowhere.” I have heard this complaint so many times, made this complaint so many times, that for a minute, we thought maybe there was nothing to be done but tear it down and admit defeat. I mean seriously, look at this place. Middle. Of. Nowhere.
But then, for shits and giggles, I decided to renew my perspective, and zoom out a little. Know what I realized?
The Powerade Centre is no more “in the middle of nowhere” than the Courthouse, Longo’s, Mayura, or any other of the businesses located in the Gateway District. In fact, as a bird flies, it’s less than 1.5 km away from a planned LRT Stop. In fact, if you measure to the door of the arena: the Powerade Centre is almost exactly the same distance to Main Street as it is to Steeles Avenue. Both are less than 1.5 km. Hardly a galaxy far away. So, why do we think of the Powerade Centre of as being in the Middle of Nowhere?
There are a few things that need to happen to properly integrate the Centre into city life. The first has to be negotiations with the Province and the 407 to build a “North Service Road” connecting Main Street to Kennedy Road. Unfortunately, when they built the neighbourhood around the Courthouse, they failed to leave an access point wherein the City could conveniently connect Ray Lawson to Kennedy Road. As is, we would have to expropriate a large number of houses in order to create an opening for a new road. And then, the new traffic pattern would be highly disruptive to the existing neighbourhoods. For example, you can see how the two straightest roads would be definitely destroy the neighbourhoods they traverse:
Which of course is why we are realistically looking at a North Service Road option that would look more like this:
There is more than enough land to create such a service road, even allowing enough room for future widening of the 407. Legend tells that the original engineers always assumed a service road or even a set of rails would be built alongside the highway, and plenty of room was allocated for such future upgrades.
The second (and third, combined really) aspect of integration into the City is a proper radial plan for the site. I say “radial plan” because we need to build in a radius around the Powerade Centre. The Powerade Site is gigantic. There is a lot of empty land, and that land can and should be commercialized. From top of bank on the creek to the edge of the parking lots on the north side, interwoven around the baseball diamonds and outdoor hockey rink, land is hardly in short supply on the site. Mixed use residential and commercial buildings, even modest sized ones maxed out at 5 stories, could create a really exciting block not unlike the area around Ottawa’s TD Place, home of the Redblacks. Considering the following representations:
Suddenly, the middle of nowhere is a built sports entertainment district. Now, i hear you, no one in Brampton would ever go to a Sports Bar. No one wants to eat dinner at a restaurant in the same parking location as the arena where their kids are settling in for a few hours of hockey. It’s madness! And you are right (no you aren’t), which is why Part 3 of the plan is to get in and finally deal with the Brampton Golf Club.
If the Golf industry in general is any indication, the Brampton Golf Club is not long for this world. We need to start planning for the eventual reversion of that back to public ownership. A tertiary plan with preserved green space, parks, recreation, and a mix of beautiful Brownstone with medium height residential complexes would create a beautiful and well serviced neighbourhood, with access to bike trails (restoring the link to the bike trails through Peel Village Golf Course will get cyclists all the way to Peel Memorial after all), schools, and will sit on the new North Service Road so will feed directly in the Gateway Business District and LRT based Transit Hub (with some of the housing actually falling within the 800 meter transit enhancement radius that planners love so much).
For example, here is the Brampton Golf Course as compared to a higher density neighourhood in nearby Mississauga you may recognize:
Exciting, isn’t it? With some proper planning, suddenly, the “Middle of Nowhere” could be the hottest place in town to live, work and very importantly, build.