The City of Toronto is a vast network of neighbourhoods - 140 to be exact. These neighbourhoods are replete with growth and opportunity. Between 2011 and 2016, almost 30 per cent of immigrants – 356,930 people – made Toronto their new home and Ontario was one of the principal beneficiaries of net interprovincial migration among the provinces and territories in Canada. Hence, it should come as no surprise that Toronto is currently home to the highest concentration of construction cranes in North America.
A growing population means expanding and improving services and infrastructure. Collaboration between public and private sectors ensure the redevelopment of underutilized space, creation of parkland, strengthening municipal and health services, and connecting more people with employment hubs and higher education by expanding transit. The Wilson Village and surrounding neighbourhoods are some of the incredible opportunities designated for regeneration. Not including the studies held prior to upgrading infrastructure for residents and institutions, the construction to manifest this initiative has been occurring for the better part of a decade.
Rich in history, Downsview Lands are situated on a former military base which has directly influenced building height restrictions for much of the area, as David Soknacki, former chair of the board of Downsview Park, describes a “place . . . stunted because of the airport zoning on it.” Laura Taylor, professor at York University's faculty of environmental studies, suggests the airport’s runway, which interrupts the city’s concession grid, could potentially be transformed into an arterial spine, creating a main street with a series of angled intersections that produce both a sense of place and distinctive architecture. The closing of the military base in 1996 and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board’s more recent purchase of the land occupied by Bombardier will be significant factors influencing development. Mike Collins-Williams, policy director for the Ontario Home Builders Association emphasizes that, “This project has the potential to remake that area of Toronto.” From this, the Canada Lands Company recognizes emerging neighbourhoods “that represent one of the region’s most exciting community-building initiatives”: William Baker, Stanley Greene, Allen, Wilson, Sheppard-Chesswood, and Yorkdale that
Stanley Greene residents began occupying 25.7 hectares in 2017. It is bound to the west by Keele Street, to the east by Metrolinx rail line, to the south by Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery, and to the north by Downsview Park. The neighbourhood is a mix of residential housing types. To the south of Wilson Avenue and to the west, mid-rise residential condominiums and townhouse developments have taken root. The 2800 Condos, Ion Condos, The Max, to name a few. Continuing northbound, arriving just south of Downsview Park, Stafford and Mattamy Homes have begun work for ground-related homes comprised of condo townhouses, detached, and townhomes
William Baker will initiate planning and development in 2019 of 25.1 hectares north and west of Sheppard Avenue and east of Keele Street. The William Baker Community Centre is proposed for the neighbourhood and A focal point of this area is an existing densely treed woodlot reflective of the natural splendor of Downsview Park.
The Sheppard-Chesswood neighbourhood is in the norther quadrant of the Downsview Lands and covers 47 hectares. Recent arrivals include the Downsview TTC and GO Transit station along with introducing further educational and institutional uses including Centennial College. Primarily land use designation is employment, but will also be receiving residential developments by Mattamy Homes.
The Allen and Wilson neighbourhoods are comprised of over 45 hectares. Canada Lands is oversees the portion of the Allen district west of Allen Road, while CreateTO will spearhead redevelopment of the neighbourhood east of Allen Road south to Highway 401. The southern portion of the neighbourhood will be home to a new residential development, while the north end of the district will be primarily mixed-use, commercial, and employment development. A pocket of density surrounding Wilson Subway station continues to expand following the completion of Gramercy Park by Malibu Investments' and Station Condos on the Subway by Brandy Lane. Currently under construction is Malibu's second phase of Gramercy Park, called Southside Residences which will then be followed by their third addition to the neighbourhood, Express Condos; Rocket Condos, a 13-storey condo building, and a 154-unit residential building erected to the south of Station Condos. The final addition to the southern pocket will be Tretti Condos which will precede the construction of a further purpose-built residential apartments.
Primarily a shopping destination, Yorkdale to the south has been an ever evolving parcel of land that sees more parking spaces be moved underground due to retail and restaurant additions and, what soon may become host to over 1,500 residential units and a mix of commercial, retail, office, and hotel space.
All of this is designed to complement the 291-acre parkland component. Downsview Park growing space within the centre of the Greater Toronto Area that features space for more active uses that involve a diverse range of public programs. The Park also offers a range of free, nature-based programs to the wider community, allowing families to better connect with the natural world around them. Programming partners, such as Bird Studies Canada, Fresh City Farms, and the Toronto Beekeepers Co-operative have enabled Downsview Park to provide unique opportunities for participants throughout the year.
Toronto is keen to focus on the development of their inner suburbs by importing the success experienced by the downtown core. The TTC subway extension connecting Downsview to the northern most portion of Toronto near York University and beyond into Vaughan is connecting more people than ever to business centres and institutions of higher learning. Developers are not the only one excited about what is deemed to be “one of the city’s last remaining blank canvases.” Local residents like John Leo chose to build his home and family in the Wilson Village neighbourhood because of the transportation infrastructure available. “You can hop on the highway in a moment and be anywhere in the GTA within an hour,” he exclaimed. Allen Road and Highway 401 are two of the major arterial roadways found within the Wilson Village in conjunction to the TTC Wilson subway station and even GO Transit present at both Yorkdale and Downsview Park. The Wilson Village and surrounding neighbourhoods are quickly developing into a mobility hub home to diverse communities, cultures, and major businesses like RBC, HSBC, TD Bank, and Humber River Regional Hospital. The current and future development of this area falls securely in line with the provinces mandate to revitalize lands surrounding subway stations and it is the main reason why we work Wilson.