Amidst several development applications that, if approved, will bring substantial changes to the neighbourhood around Yonge Street and Steeles Avenue, Vaughan City Council has approved the formation of a working group to develop a cohesive vision for the neighbourhood.
Earlier this year, the Salz Corporation submitted an official plan amendment, rezoning and plan of subdivision applications to the City of Vaughan for 100 Steeles Ave. W. This application would facilitate the construction of towers of 54 and 49 storeys and two towers of 18 storeys.
Mizrahi Developments and Constantine Enterprises have submitted an official plan and zoning amendment to the city to build six buildings ranging from 16 to 45 storeys at 180 Steeles Ave. W. That proposed development would include 2,080 residential units.
A public hearing held by Vaughan’s committee of the whole on July 13 saw local residents voice their concerns about the two developments over issues such as traffic, density, shading and the developments’ impact on local services. Residents voiced their concerns online or over the phone as the council chamber was closed to the public due to concerns over COVID-19. Council voted to receive both applications at the meeting.
At a council meeting two days later, councillor Alan Shefman introduced a motion to establish the Vaughan Yonge Centre Working Group to work with various parties to co-ordinate and facilitate the implementation of an integrated, cohesive development approach to the area. The group will be responsible for making recommendations to the city council consistent with Vaughan’s broader city-building objectives and the Yonge Steeles Corridor Secondary Plan.
The Gupta group also submitted a zoning bylaw and official plan amendment, in July of 2019, to build three towers of 50, 56 and 65 storeys at 7028 Yonge St. and 2 Steeles Ave. W., and Shefman said he expects there will be three more applications for the area in the next year.
“So we are talking about an area that will be very rapidly developing, so I want to ensure through work with the community and developers to create a concerted vision, to create a neighbourhood and not just a bunch of high-rise buildings,” said Shefman, who at the public hearing expressed a desire for more offices in the applications.
The group will consist of current landowners in the immediate area, two members of Vaughan City Council, the mayor and five members of the community as nominated by SpringFarm Ratepayers Association (SFRA). The cities of Markham and Toronto as well as York Region will be invited to nominate a member of the working group.
Pam Taraday-Levy, of SFRA, said she has several problems with the development applications as they currently stand.
“We don’t believe the infrastructure can support that size of development, especially since all the developers along Steeles and Yonge are looking for massive increases in density. We don’t know that the infrastructure will support that. There are also traffic concerns. Residents are concerned about the lack of privacy in their backyards if they have these huge towers overlooking single family homes,” said Taraday-Levy.
“We believe the mission [of the working group] will be to have an integrated, cohesive neighbourhood along Yonge and Steeles, with reasonable heights.”
Shefman said that SFRA has nominated its five representatives, and the city is currently reaching out to local property owners asking for their nominees. According to the motion, which was passed unanimously by council, the working group is to begin its deliberations no later than Sept. 15, 2020.