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Massive Markham meeting deals with mammoth York Downs development
April 11, 2017
Tin Kelly

The only thing bigger than the proposed housing development at York Downs is the amount of public interest in the project.

A standing-room-only crowd filling council chambers and all the seats in the hallway at Markham Town Centre listened intently as more than 30 delegations presented arguments for and against the 2,400-unit project last Wednesday.

And who was the last speaker of the four-hour meeting?

Patrick O'Hanlon, president of Kylemore Communities the project's developer. He had listened patiently to what everyone had to say, pro and con.

There was an almost even split between those who supported the project on the basis that it would offer mixed-use housing choice to young professionals and future Markham residents; and those who offered varying degrees of opposition based on increased traffic concerns, environmental worries, loss of wildlife and tree canopy, and other issues.

The official public meeting was markedly different than the March 20 meeting when the project was first presented and virtually every public speaker railed against the development.

This time, O'Hanlon made the case that Kylemore and his associates were keen to listen to those who have issues with the development.

He seemed particularly taken with one resident who complained a 6-to-8 storey condominium planned for 16th Avenue would overlook homes across the four-lane street and into neighbouring yards.

"We can look at that, if it can look north, instead of east-west, we could do that," said O'Hanlon.

"There was an equal balance.... I wouldn't say anybody was really against this, but we (people) can support this if certain things are done," said O'Hanlon, whose Kylemore group and others bought the 417-acre property two years ago for $412 million from York Downs golf club members.

Those who want to see 16th Avenue and Kennedy Road widened to accept the thousands more vehicles that will come with the anticipated 5,000 to 7,500 new residents, have a supporter in O'Hanlon.

He said the answer lies in the many millions of dollars in development charges that will be paid through the development, which he believes should be directed to the area where the megaproject is taking place.

"We've gone up to the region and we believe the regional development charges should go to region where we are developing. In other words, our development charges should stay in Markham, should go to Kennedy, should go to 16th and that resolves everything," he said.

There will be many more chances to talk about the development as a subcommittee has been set up to discuss it. The first meeting of the subcommittee takes place at Markham Civic Centre on April 18 at 6 p.m. It will be chaired by Ward 6 Councillor Amanda Colluci and is open to the public. It’s expected there will be a minimum of four meetings of the subcommittee.

You can also visit an online site dedicated exclusively to the York Downs project that the City of Markham has set up at