Urban planning consultant Andrew Walker, who represents Latiq Qureshi, speaks to residents at a public meeting tonight about his client's plans to build homes on the historic Hammond House site

Urban planning consultant Andrew Walker, who represents Latiq Qureshi, speaks to residents at a public meeting tonight about his client's plans to build homes on the historic Hammond House site

MISSISSAUGA — "Outrageous." "Absurd." "Excessive."

That was the reaction echoed this evening by close to 200 Erindale residents and the local councillor after learning the owner of a heritage site wants to build homes on the property.

Latiq and Fatima Qureshi's plan to build seven houses on the Hammond House property, in the area of Erin Mills Pkwy. and Dundas St. W., was met with heavy opposition tonight as residents packed St. Peter's Anglican Church for a public meeting on the matter.

The Qureshis own the 2.1 acres of property and live in the historic house,  which was built in 1866 by Capt. Thomas Hammond, one of the earliest farmers in Erindale. The property has been designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.

The Qureshis, who raised their family in the home, have asked the City for an Official Plan amendment and a rezoning of the land to allow for the development. He maintains the existing house will not be touched.

Neither Latiq Qureshi nor his wife were at tonight's meeting, and instead sent a team of urban planning consultants on their behalf.

Latiq Qureshi refused to answer any questions from The News when contacted Tuesday, saying only that tonight's meeting would be informative for the community.

While Ward 8 Councillor Katie Mahoney said Qureshi has done a "beautiful job" maintaining the property, filled with mature trees and gardens, she made it clear she will be opposing his plan.

"Outrageous. The idea of intensifying on this land is kind of outrageous," she told The News. "The designation of this property is supposed to protect it from development."

Mahoney said Qureshi's plan presents a number of issues. It will cause more traffic in the area and will mean that Loyalist Creek, which runs through the property, may have to be engineered to accommodate the development.

"This application flies in the face of heritage planning," she said, adding City staff asked Qureshi to withdraw the application and he refused.

Matthew Wilkinson, Heritage Mississauga's historian, agreed Qureshi desreves credit for the marvelous upkeep of the property over the years.

But, he was critical of the plan.

"From a heritage perspective, this is an incredibly rich part of our community's history. This house anchors the landscape from a social perspective," he said. "I'm encouraged the house will remain, but the proposal of the lots seems excessive and too dense for the area."

Wilkinson said the proposed development could destroy the natural environment of the property, including the wooded area and water course.

Andrew Walker, one of the urban planning consultants representing Qureshi, conceded trees will have to be destroyed but "an effort will be made to preserve as many trees as possible."

Walker said his team is also proposing to maintain Loyalist Creek "as an open channel."

Jennifer Kalihane, a young mother who lives near Hammond House, said losing a piece of the city's heritage shouldn't even be considered.

"It's absurd," she said. "All Mississauga has been criticized for is building and building and causing urban sprawl. Certain things need to be preserved to give this city an identity."

Tonight's meeting turned rowdy on a number of occasions, including one point where planners misinformed the crowd about when Qureshi purchased the property and how long he and wife Fatima have been living there.

"I propose they go home and do their homework," one resident said.

Residents also laughed in derision when Walker said the new development will only bring 17 more residents to the area, based on an average of 2.1 persons per dwelling. It was a number residents believed to be ridiculously low.

lrosella@mississauga.net