“Vaughan is a city on the move,” says Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua. “With a downtown core rising from the ground, a new hospital under construction and the subway opening, these and many other exciting projects are changing the landscape of our growing community.”
Vaughan includes the communities of Concord, Kleinburg, Maple, Thornhill and Woodbridge. Officially incorporated as a city in 1991, it was the first city in York Region but hasn’t had a proper downtown. Until now.
Today, the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC) at Hwy. 7 and Jane Street is taking shape. In addition to transit mobility, it will feature greenspaces and parks, office and condo towers, pedestrian links, retail and entertainment.
By 2031, more than 11,500 jobs will be created and 25,000 people will be living in 12,000 residential units. “Vaughan truly is in the midst of a golden era,” Bevilacqua says.
As impressive as those numbers are, VMC is about much more than that. “Ultimately, you want to create the human experience in a city so people want to live there,” he says. “I promote this concept called ‘sensorybased planning’ and it’s not just about the number of storeys in a building but it’s how people feel living in a city â€” what can they see and touch, and what is their existential reason for living in that city.”
He points to the municipality’s decision to put social infrastructure in place as it builds the heart of the city and not after the fact.
The YMCA will have a fullservice daycare, the community centre will have a community kitchen and the library will have dedicated children spaces in addition to a new 24-hour concept (part of the library will be open all day/night).
All are currently under construction and set to open in 2019. The city is also developing 7.5 hectares of new parkland.
Vaughan made history by welcoming the TTC Line 1 Extension late last year. “This is the first time in TTC history that a subway has crossed Toronto’s borders,” says Bevilacqua. “Vaughan is now linked directly with the core of Toronto with a 42-minute ride from the VMC Station to Union Station.”
The city is home to two additional TTC stops: Pioneer Village Station and 407 Station.
Already, more than 700 residential units are occupied and more than 7,000 units are proposed or under construction. Expo City is the first residential address in VMC.
Towers 1 and 2 are the tallest buildings in Vaughan at 37 storeys and occupied. Towers 3 and 4 were approved by council last spring.
Transit City 1 and 2 by SmartCentres and CentreCourt has been approved. Transit City 3, The Met by Berkley Plaza Corp, Cosmos by Liberty and Icona by Gupta are all in the planning stages.
The KPMG Tower, the first office in the new downtown, employs about 800 people. More than 300 businesses are already located in the VMC, including Bar Buca, Miller Thomson, GFL Environmental, Harley Davidson and FM Global.
“The VMC will be a downtown core with a Vaughan signature,” Bevilacqua says. “I always say that if you are standing in our downtown core and you think you are standing in many other cities, then we have failed. I think our downtown will be unique; people will know they are in Vaughan.”