.Corp Comm Connects


New Urban Community Underway: Downtown Vaughan

June 7, 2018
Rob Jowett

With the approval of Transit City’s third tower, the first residential buildings in Vaughan’s new downtown are underway. 

Transit City is SmartCentres’ 55-storey, three tower, 553-unit residential complex and will be the tallest buildings in York Region. Partner CentreCourt Developments has begun construction on the first two towers. Approval of the third tower came May 23 when Vaughan council approved the required zoning by-law amendment. 

Located in the heart of the 179-ha Vaughan Metropolitan Centre—the City of Vaughan’s planned new downtown core—Transit City is being built around the new TTC subway stop and YRT bus terminal that anchor the centre. 

“For the City of Vaughan… a municipality which really has no urban centre, this really is the new downtown for Vaughan. It’s a unique prototype in that respect,” says Diamond Schmitt Architects principal Michael Szabo. The firm is the project architect for Transit City and the surrounding SmartCentres Place. 

Located at the southwest corner of Millway Avenue and Portage Parkway, the new residential neighbourhood is centred on a 3.6-ha park designed by Claude Cormier + Associés. 

“Transit City really is the next obvious step where we have people working in the VMC, we have people playing in the VMC, we have mobility and transit… so the next natural step is to get people living there, with the cornerstones of infrastructure in place,” says Szabo. 

SmartCentres development senior vice-president Paula Bustard told NRU that building connectivity to and through the area was the most important design aspect of SmartCentres Place, which comprises a 40-ha master planned community within the centre. 

“We’ve been working for over the last decade… on a holistic master plan for the entirety of the lands,” says Bustard. “Every facet of the development we’re trying to think long-term,” she says. “We’re trying to think, ‘What is the impact of this space on the next phase and the phase after it and how do they relate to each to each other?’” 

Increasing connectivity to and through Vaughan is a driving force behind the creation of the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, Ward 4 councillor Sandra Yeung Rocco told NRU. She say it was conceived when the subway line extension was officially announced. 

“Subways can only be sustainable if you have people, whether they’re living there, working there, or being entertained,” she says. “If you build a subway with nobody around… it’s just a waste of money.”  

She says improving transit access and getting people out of their cars is a major goal for the centre.  

“It’s a change in the mentality of how things are because we have… always been very car dependent.” 

Szabo says his firm’s design supports that goal.  

“The most idealistic aspiration [for the VMC] is that it’s an urban environment where you can live, you can work, you can play, and really not have such a reliance on the automobile,” he says. 

Racco says the process of creating a new downtown will take 25-30 years and will completely transform Vaughan.  

“We needed to put the proper… foundation in place so that even with staff gone, with a politician gone, there will still be a process in the guidelines of how we want to see this area grow.”  

The Transit City towers are anticipated to be completed between 2020 and 2021.