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‘Like Hyde Park’: Vaughan’s emerging downtown already ‘lively’ and soon to get its 9-acre park
Oct. 28, 2021
Dina Al-Shibeeb

The 100-acre Vaughan emerging downtown core, also known as Vaughan Metropolitan Centre-- located at Highway 7 and Jane Street -- is increasingly becoming more vibrant even though it is not yet fully complete.

“It’s livelier and fun,” said Parma Hugillen, a barista who works at Balzac’s Coffee Roasters in the vicinity of the VMC Subway and the regional bus terminal, which is close to Hwy. 7 and VIVA buses.

In 2017, Vaughan made history when it became home to the first subway stations in the Greater Toronto Area outside Toronto.

In September, Hugillen enjoyed some delectable Latin treats when food trucks were stationed at the VMC. That month also saw the VMC hosting the soft launch of its first music festival, and the Vaughan Film Festival holding its movie premieres there for the first time, too.

This emerging downtown is already home to big companies like PwC and there is going to be a huge YMCA and a library to add under its belt.

With social media connoisseurs using VMC’s ArtWalk district’s pink wall to join the international Instagram phenomenon of people posing in front of fuchsia walls, the downtown is going to see breaking ground for its nine-acre park soon.

Designed by Claude Cormier, the park is synonymous to Hyde Park in London, U.K., said Mandy Mail, vice-president of marketing at SmartCentres.

SmartCentres Real Estate Investment Trust  -- considered to be one of Canada's largest real estate investment trusts  -- had earlier plans to transform the 100-acre land it owns into a massive shopping centre.

The linear park -- expected to run through the VMC community -- is going to extend west from the base of the KPMG Tower towards Hwy 400, ending at Applewood, which is a block east of Hwy 400.

“The park stretches across the entire property all the way to Hwy. 400,” said Mail. “So, no matter where you are in the area, you're going to live near the park, you can hang out at the park.”

Mail explained that SmartCentres had added in “extra roads to open up the space and make it easy to flow.”

Both SmartCentres and the City of Vaughan worked “proactively” to bring forth a network of streets and cycling facilities to feed the new downtown. 

“Some of these roads border the park (New Park Place, Apple Mill and Applewood), some flow through the park (Commerce, Edgeley),” Mandy added.

Having the park is the setting keystone for the entire VMC, Mail further emphasized.

"With the VMC being pedestrian-focused and the park being “European-inspired,” Mail said “the park is going to be heartbeat of the entire community.”

“It will be done in three different phases, so it won't be immediate.”

Breaking ground of the project is yet to be announced but it’s imminent.

And more is happening at the VMC.

A new mixed-use development consisting of 624 residential units across four towers, which will be four, six, 18 and 38 storeys high and served by 220 underground vehicle parking spaces and 383 bicycle stalls, is expected to be for sale soon as well.

This is to add to the first residential complex developed at SmartCentres Place: Transit City condos.

The initial plan for Transit City was to be one tower with 36 storeys. However, the plan was changed in 2017, when it saw a huge traction, especially by 2,500 real estate agents lining up to get their slice.

This resulted in Transit City becoming five condos.

"Transit City towers - four and five - are under construction right now. They also fully sold out immediately,” she added.

In the vicinity of Transit City, there is a rental purpose building that’s under construction, too.

About 6,000 residents are expected to move in once the entire Transit City towers and the rental building are complete.