Canada's Condominium Magazine

Downsview Park moves forward as new housing deal announced

The re-development of the former Downsview Canadian Forces Base into a grand urban park has certainly moved at a snail’s pace. The plan to create the park was announced just before the turn of the century—1999. Torontonians have been hearing about one plan or another for the place for all those years, and until recently there wasn’t much to show for it.

Slowly it seems to be coming together, though not the way many local residents had wanted. There is a subway station at Downsview now, and that’s good. Getting to the place was not that easy before for downtowners, situated way up there at Sheppard and Keele. There are sports facilities there as well, making use of old military hangars. A number of high-profile sports organizations operate out of Downsview, including Toronto FC, which has  a huge training facility there. It hopes to become the centre of soccer development in Canada. There’s a film studio there, and various community events take place as well.

Last month Centennial College announced that it would build an aerospace campus at Downsview, the former home of de Havilland aircraft. It will serve as a training and research hub for the aerospace industry in Ontario.

Part of the master plan for the park is the development of no less than five “integrated neighbourhoods,” with “related” neighbourhoods. And today there is an announcement that home builders Mattamy and Urbancorp have partnered to build one of these neighbourhoods, consisting of about 1.000 homes.

Local residents had fought for fewer new homes, but the Ontario Municipal Board prevailed and approved about 10,000 of them. The local city councilor for the area, Maria Augimeri, told Global News that residents were still opposed to any more housing on the site, though the official plan does call for it. Instead of the large urban park they were promised, Augimeri said, “we are getting a mini city of apartments and town houses.” The area is already stretched to breaking point in terms of traffic congestion, and with all of these new residents coming, it will need bigger roads and infrastructure.

The Mattamy and Urbancorp portion, which will be the first new residential construction in the park, will consist of townhomes, single-family homes and mid-rise apartments. The announcement from Mattamy says that the homes will be build to LEED standards. The “master-planned community” will occupy 63 acres on the site.

Discussions about the use of the remaining lands in the park are still going on. Canada Lands Company, a crown corporation that manages property belonging to the federal government, is conducting an information session next week. No doubt the Mattamy deal will be a subject of discussion at that session.

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