Learn more about the city's history from the Vaughan Archives
March 7, 2022
From the traditional territories of the First Peoples of Turtle Island, to a farmland community, to a bustling city centre and everything in between – Vaughan’s transformation is a story worth telling. As part of a monthly series, the City of Vaughan is releasing historical content from the Vaughan Archives, Office of the City Clerk. Citizens are encouraged to scroll through memory lane, learn about the city’s past and explore the places, people and events that were pivotal to the development of the city of Vaughan we know today.
The Keele Valley Landfill was located at the intersection of Keele Street and McNaughton Road in Maple, and was the largest landfill in Canada and the third-largest in North America at one time. Owned and operated by the City of Toronto, the landfill originally consisted of a gravel pit that was purchased for approximately $40 million in the 1970s. It was the main landfill site for the City of Toronto and the municipalities of York and Durham from 1983 to 2002.
The Keele Valley Landfill contained a comprehensive gas collection system, which was installed at the beginning of 1985. This system was meant to reduce emissions and odours. In 1994, the project was expanded to include a $30-million power generation station, which created enough electricity to power 20,000 homes every year, even after the landfill closed.
While the landfill was originally built in a rural area, the growth of the Maple community in the 1990s led to the site being surrounded by residential homes within the newly formed City of Vaughan. This encroaching landfill, and the almost 30-million tonnes of waste accumulated throughout its operation, contributed to the dump being full and merited its closing.
In 1988, the Vaughan Committee of Associations to Restore Environmental Safety (CARES) was established as an umbrella association of ratepayers, environmental groups, community activists and concerned residents to spearhead initiatives to close the Keele Valley Landfill. The group’s mission was to protect the environment, the Don River and the health of Vaughan residents. Vaughan CARES organized and participated in numerous public hearings, delegations and demonstrations at Queen’s Park, the City of Toronto, the landfill site and other locations – all to oppose the expansion of the Keele Valley Landfill.
From 1996 to 2000, Vaughan CARES continued to advocate for the closure of the Keele Valley Landfill, establish new environmental policies and advocate for new sustainable waste management strategies. In 2002, with support from the City, Vaughan CARES organized a historic closure event of the Keele Valley Landfill engaging thousands of residents. Since 2003, Vaughan CARES has continued to advocate for the rehabilitation of the land and the creation of North Maple Regional Park (NMRP).
In 2018, Council expanded the NMRP plan by including the former Keele Valley Landfill, Vaughan Township Landfill and wooded valley lands in a 364-hectare (900-acre) vision. The park gives back to residents after years of landfill operations. NMRP is located on the Oak Ridges Moraine and the source of the Don River. The site’s environmental significance plays a key role in the park’s vision. Advancing the plans for NMRP is a 2018-2022 Term of Council Service Excellence Strategic Plan priority and supports the Active Together Master Plan, which guides improvements to the City’s recreation facilities and programs.
Also in 2018, 80 hectares (197 acres) of NMRP opened to the public with the following facilities:
two FIFA-certified artificial turf soccer fields with built-in spectator seating
a variety of walking and hiking trails
a park pavilion, which includes a terrace, washrooms, changerooms and water fountains (opened in 2019)
picnic areas with shade shelters and seating
a toboggan hill
an asphalt parking area with room for 200 vehicles
In December 2021 (PDF), Council approved the naming of the park roadway in NMRP as Vaughan CARES Way in honour of the group’s achievements and the closure of the landfill on Dec. 31, 2002. Council also approved a commemorative plaque to be placed in NMRP, in addition to installing story panels that capture Vaughan CARES’ milestones and timelines throughout their campaign.
Now in 2022, the next phase of park development is in motion. This stage of construction (PDF) will prepare 52 hectares (130 acres) of the park for the future development of new recreational facilities and amenities. The scope of work includes:
site grading and stormwater management
installation of underground services (water, storm, sanitary, electrical, gas and telecom)
reconstruction and extension of the current park roadway, in addition to creating a second park access from Keele Street
environmental restoration, enhancement and connection of the existing pond, wetland and habitat areas
As part of this work, environmental restoration is a priority. This will include removing current trees, grasses and shrubs which will be replanted in a way that improves the ecosystems onsite. All work is being completed in co-ordination with the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. During construction some trails and park areas will be closed to the public with on-site signage and fencing. Learn more at vaughan.ca/NMRP.