Turning the Markham Centre Vision into Reality
The build out of the downtown will take place over many years. Keeping development on track in meeting the community's vision and expectations requires ongoing review and public input.
As part of establishing the Markham Centre Advisory Group, the Town recognized that Performance Measures would be required to:
- Translating town-wide community values into actual measurement systems
- Using measures that are credible to the community
- Facilitating citizen participation
- Constructing a system that can:
- Be fine-tuned and updated to reflect new technologies and best practices
- Measure progress towards established goals and objectives
- Be open, accountable and developed from the community interests and issues
- Communicating community expectations to all stakeholders
From Guiding Principles to Practical Measures
The Markham Centre Advisory Group hosted a series of Public Workshops and a Conference to obtain public input regarding key objectives for Greenlands, Transportation, Built Form, Green Infrastructure and Public Spaces, and to prioritize these objectives. Performance measures were identified for each objective, and application checklists were prepared. Performance indicators were then established for each measure to enable an easily understood "gold, silver, bronze" rating system to evaluate how each development proposal meets or exceeds standards and expectations.
A series of key "Performance Indicators" were then developed out of the checklists to provide a basis for ensuring all development applications within Markham Centre are evaluated in terms of achievement of goals and measurable targets.
The Checklist and Performance Indicators support a dynamic evaluation procedure, where progress made towards the Guiding Principles and the achievement of the new vision for Markham Centre can be monitored and evaluated over the long term.
In March 2003, Council adopted OPA 101 incorporating the Guiding Development Principles that articulate the goals and objectives for the development of Markham Centre, into the Markham Centre Secondary Plan (OPA 21). At the same time, the Performance Measures were adopted as an appendix to OPA 21. It is anticipated that the Performance Measures will evolve over time, as development occurs, new information becomes available, policies and technologies change, best practice technologies change, best practice techniques and standards are developed, and infrastructure is built.
Since its adoption, the Advisory Group has been using the Performance Measures Document to review and evaluate development applications. This input has been instrumental in ensuring that the Town remains on course and on target in delivering Markham Centre in accordance with the Town and community's goals and expectations, using the highest quality standards and best practice models. The Performance Measures were recognized with an award for Sustainable Community Planning from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) in 2003.
Performance Measures and Performance Indicators have Evolved
In order to ensure the Performance Measures continue to be not only current, but leading edge, staff retained a consultant in 2006 to work with the Advisory to update the Performance Measure and identify a strategy for relating the document to the Canada Green Building Council's LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating systems.
The update served to simplify, and clarify the Performance Measures, eliminate redundancies, rationalize overlaps between sub-sections and ensure that each Performance Measure had a corresponding performance indicator. Of utmost importance throughout this process was maintaining the original spirit and intent of the Performance Measures Document as a community-based value document for the creation of an intense, mixed-use, environmentally sustainable downtown.
LEED® Relationships have been Identified
The Performance Measures are now benchmarked against requirements of Canada Green Building Council's LEED® New Construction - Version 1.0 Potential opportunities are identified for developments within Markham Centre to be in a position to qualify for various LEED® credits based on adherence to the performance measures. The revised performance measure indicate a correlation to LEED® Canada NC 1.0 individual pre-requisites or credits. In some cases, the correlation is with a complete LEED® NC 1.0 category. Where appropriate, anticipated correlation to the United States Green Building Council's (USGBC) emerging LEED™ for Neighbourhood Development (1st Public Comment Draft) is indicated. We have assumed that the requirements of CaGBC LEED® ND 1.0 will be generally similar to those of USGBC LEED™ ND 1.0 However, the Canadian version of the LEED® Neighbourhood Development document is likely to be significantly different in some aspects, so the correlations must be carefully reviewed when the Canadian Document is released.
In general, Precinct level Performance Measures are cross referenced to anticipated relations with CaGBC LEED® ND 1.0 and the Site Specific Performance Measures are correlated with CaGBC LEED® ND 1.0.
The Development Application Process
Staff use the Application Checklist to provide an initial assessment of each new development application. Once all questions in the Checklist have been addressed, staff evaluate the application in terms of the performance indicators. The Citizen Advisory Group reviews the application. The Developer presents its plans to the Advisory Group to obtain comments, recommendations and feedback. The Application is modified to incorporate the Advisory Group's recommendations. The Developer's revised application is reviewed again with the Advisory Group. A public meeting is held with public notice given. Additional community information meetings may also be held. A staff report is brought forward to the Development Services Committee, and ultimately to Council, for approval. This report outlines the application's progress towards community values, goals and performance targets.
Keeping the Vision on Track
An annual "Report Card" will be compiled to summarize the actual results of the building process. This report will identify any performance measures that require clarification or revision. It will be submitted to Markham Council in the first quarter of the year, and available for review by stakeholders and the public.
The Markham Centre performance guidelines will be used for many years to come, and form a "living document" that will be expanded and changed to reflect new technologies, practices and community priorities.