The vision for Markham Centre originated in the early 1990’s when the City undertook a series of design workshops and held extensive public consultation meetings to develop the Master Plan. Ultimately, that plan was incorporated into a Secondary Plan, called Official Plan Amendment 21 (OPA 21).
Development applications involve extensive public review. Applications are circulated to a variety of agencies and other authorities. In the case of applications within Markham Centre, the City of Markham established the Markham Centre Advisory in 2002 to supply additional perspective and comment on development applications and other Markham Centre initiatives. The City also seeks public input through one or more public meetings and has implemented enhanced notice procedures for formal public meetings on development proposals.
Yes, Markham Centre is based on the principles of sustainable growth often referred to as “Smart Growth”. What this means for Markham, as an urban municipality within the GTA, is that as we continue to grow, we will develop in a way that:
encourages more compact development so we consume less land;
intensifies development near and around public transit routes to support greater transit use and reduce traffic congestion; and,
encourages a mix of uses, with homes, businesses, schools, stores located together so that people can live, work and socialize in their own communities.
This approach is endorsed and encouraged by all three levels of government as a desirable alternative to costly low-density residential sprawl.
Building a new downtown requires a long-term financial commitment to investing in infrastructure. While private development will pay its fair share, government will need to participate in the delivery of high quality parks and public spaces, rapid transit, parking structures and other facilities that are critical to achieving the Markham Centre vision.
Reliance on the automobile for commuting and local trips will always be part of our community. Building Markham Centre as a compact mixed-use community will permit us to rely less on the car by providing the means and density to support rapid transit, and providing people with more choices to live and work in the same location and walk or cycle to and from the downtown area or to local services.
Our traffic problems today are not specific to Markham, but occur across the GTA which results from years of new residential growth, with almost exclusive reliance on the automobile to reach decentralized employment and service locations. Markham Centre provides the opportunity to change the way we did things in the past and deliver our sustainable mixed-use transit-support vision for the future. Markham Centre forms the catalyst for building new road connections, providing rapid-transit facilities, creating new opportunities to live, work and play in the same community, and supporting less reliance on the automobile as the primary mode of transportation.
Markham Centre is unique; it is being developed around the philosophy of New Urbanism and sustainable growth. When complete, Markham Centre will not only be a pedestrian and transit-friendly destination for cultural activities, shopping, and employment, but also a distinct community integrated with nature.
Markham Centre already houses a number of key buildings and developments, including the Markham Civic Centre, Bill Crothers High School, the Markham YMCA – Rudy Bratty Centre, Hilton Suites Hotel & Convention Centre, Motorola, Honeywell and IBM. However, many more developments are being planned. The Remington Group has commenced construction on the 243-acre, downtown core of Markham Centre, with their first residential projects already occupied. The projected build-out of Markham Centre could continue over the next 20 years.
There will be approximately 20,000 new housing units built within Markham Centre. The plan contemplates a diverse range of housing, including seniors, singles and young families, primarily in a high density context.
Every effort is being made to manage parking and traffic impacts in order to maintain a high quality of life in Markham Centre and for the neighbouring communities. Highway 7 will be transformed into a major urban boulevard, and traffic will be directed throughout Markham Centre by a carefully planned grid of streets. Plans are in place to monitor intersections along Highway 7 to ensure traffic impacts on neighbouring communities are minimized.
The City of Markham anticipates an increase in population to approximately 370,300 persons by 2021. Managing the successful implementation of Markham Centre is a very important component of our growth strategy.
The Markham Centre Secondary Plan established the framework for a mixed-use, residential, employment centre within the heart of Markham. When this plan was adopted, boundaries were established for limited urban expansion of the City’s urban boundary and policies were put in place to protect the rural, agricultural and environmental lands within Markham. About 192 acres of open space are protected within Markham Centre.
The City has recently undertaken a growth planning program aimed at accommodating the majority of projected growth through to 2031 within the City’s existing urban boundaries. Much of this growth is intended to be accommodated along transit corridors and in Regional Centres such as Markham Centre.
We value your contribution to the decision-making process. The Markham Centre Advisory, made up of community representatives from across the City, was established in 2002 to provide us with feedback and information. We continue to solicit input from the Advisory, residents and businesses through various open houses, newsletters and the Markham Centre website www.markhamcentre.com.
Rapid transit is a key element of the Markham Centre vision. The planning for Markham Centre is intended to create the concentration of residents and employees needed to help sustain higher order public transit.
VIVA, with support from the Regional, Provincial and Federal governments, is a comprehensive rapid transit network for York Region. This network is being developed in stages, with the most heavily travelled locations built first. Phase 1 of the dedicated bus rapidways is under construction in Markham Centre.
We are estimating that Markham Centre will eventually be home to about 39,000 jobs. We expect businesses to be attracted to Markham Centre by the exciting mix of offices, shops, schools, housing and proximity to transit facilities to provide new employment opportunities.
While development of Markham Centre will be transit supportive, Markham Centre does not ignore the need for parking. Parking spaces are intended to be provided for every residential unit, generally in below grade structures. Commercial buildings will have adequate parking space for building tenants. Our parking strategy contemplates reducing available parking over time upon delivery of transit infrastructure and increased modal split. Paid parking is being introduced on key streets in Markham Centre and consideration is being given to the creation of a parking authority to help stimulate revenue sources to build parking structures and ensure valuable land is not consumed by parking lots.
Environmental protection has been one of the most important values in the development of the Markham Centre vision. Representatives of various environmental groups are members of the Markham Centre Advisory Group that has been assembled to provide feedback to the project development team and to help articulate the values and interests of our community, including environmental concerns. We value our environment which is reflected in the Guiding Development Principles for Markham Centre and our Performance Measures Document.
Markham Centre will be a milestone in the development and shaping of Markham, and the City has taken great lengths to consult the public, as well as in ensuring a high degree of protection of the natural environment. There are several planning policies in place and regulatory agencies that protect the integrity of the Rouge River in Markham Centre. The City has completed a Greenlands plan to guide future use and restoration of the valley system and to ensure that future development respects, protects and enhances the existing river valley. In addition, the Official Plan provides for the protection of the valley lands, and City Council endorsed the Rouge North Management Plan, a report that sets management and development criteria regarding the Rouge River north of Steeles Avenue.
All great cities have a central destination for social and cultural activities. While the City has dynamic historical locations, these areas must be preserved for their heritage significance. City-wide surveys from local residents have previously identified the need for a ‘downtown’ area. Markham Centre is an opportunity to provide a centrally located, vibrant, and mixed-use, transit supportive City Centre.
IBM, Motorola, Honeywell, the Hilton Suites, Markham Theatre and the Civic Centre, the Markham YMCA – Rudy Bratty Centre and the Bill Crothers High School are some of the major developments and landmarks in Markham Centre today. Some other projects include:
Site identification; Markham Centre banners identify main roads in Markham Centre, to identify the geographical area.
The Tridel/Dorsay (Circa) development, (on the northwest corner of Highway 7 and Town Centre Boulevard) has completed their residential phases;
Liberty has completed the first phase of their mixed retail, office and residential project on the lands to the west of the Hilton Suites;
The Times Groups’ Majestic Court mixed-use project at South Town Centre Boulevard and Clegg Road is complete.
The Remington Group’s Downtown Markham project, (located between the Rouge River, the 407, Warden Avenue and the GO Transit line), forms the downtown core of Markham Centre. The Remington plan proposes a pedestrian mall in conjunction with a dedicated transit line, a 10 acre central park, a retail core, a mix of office and residential uses. Remington’s first phase is well underway with occupancy of their Bijou buildings and with construction of their townhomes and Verdale buildings nearing completion. Their next phase which encompasses the first elements of their retail core, including a hotel and theatre complex; is being finalized; and,
The Time’s Group is also involved with a comprehensive development (Uptown Markham) along the south side of Highway 7, east of Warden Avenue. This project contemplates a series of apartment and office buildings generally ranging in height from 6 to 20 storeys with grade-related and mixed use retail, and local parks.
The Markham Centre Advisory is made up of representatives from residential, business and educational sectors in Markham, as well as York Region and various environmental committees. They have assisted in formulating Performance Measures to help evaluate proposals in Markham Centre from an environmental sustainability and community building perspective. The City endorsed the Performance Measures which considers key performance criteria related to Greenlands, Built Form, Green Infrastructure, Public Spaces and Transportation, and they now form part of OPA 21. The Performance Measures were up-dated to identify correlations to available Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (L.E.E.D.) credits. The Markham Centre Advisory Group meets once a month. For more information: www.markhamcentre.com.
Highway 7 is planned to evolve into an urban boulevard, including sidewalks and street trees. This urbanization will create a balance between a safe pedestrian environment, accommodating rapid transit, and improving east-west vehicular movement across the City. The Highway 7 Precinct Plan Study will further articulate the vision for Highway 7, including establishing built form guidelines for development which will ensure an appropriate transition to the neighbouring community.
Secondary Plan is a planning document that sets out the planning policies for an area and provides guidance for its physical development while taking into account social, economic and environmental matters.
Official Plan Amendment 21 sets out the City’s vision and policies to guide the development of Markham Centre. The City is reviewing the policies within the Markham Centre Secondary Plan to reflect the City’s current growth strategy to ensure that the timing of development and associated built-form implement the City’s vision for Markham Centre and coincide with available transit and other infrastructure.
The Ontario Municipal Board approved Official Plan Amendment 21 on July 7, 1997. This means that the policies contained in that plan are in full force and effect. All development proposals will be reviewed to ensure they are consistent with the Official Plan policies.
Markham Centre will not be built overnight. Depending on the market, Markham Centre could take 20 or more years to complete. It will be phased to ensure that the construction of roads and services, parks, schools, transit, and community infrastructure keeps pace with office, retail and residential development.
The City of Markham continues to update the City website and also has a dedicated Markham Centre website www.markhamcentre.com. The City publishes newsletters, holds public information meetings, and provides material in the Markham Economist and Sun. If you would like a personal mailing of updates for Markham Centre, contact the City of Markham Clerks Department, and your name will be placed on a future mailing list. The City also has an active communication plan to keep the residents in Markham informed about Markham Centre, including expanded notice procedures for development applications.
The Greater Toronto Area is one of the fastest growing areas in the country. Over a decade ago Markham Council recognized the potential pressures growth would have on the Town. Council also recognized that suburban sprawl has enormous impact on land consumption, the environment, infrastructure requirements and traffic congestion. Markham will continue to have growth pressures; however the Town has adopted positive policies to manage and control growth by limiting outward expansion and intensifying development within the Town’s existing boundaries.
Council recognizes that development is a positive sign of economic vitality and can increase quality of life for local and regional residents by providing additional live, work and play opportunities. The City is taking a proactive approach in controlling development by following the principles of Smart Growth:
Strong Economy; and
Clean, Healthy Environment.
The City has also embarked on a comprehensive Growth Strategy to guide and direct much of the City’s future growth to identified centres and transit-supportive locations throughout the City. This strategy establishes the basis for the City’s continued growth through to 2031.