History and Vision

A vibrant mix of activities will be available on the streets and squares where people live, work, shop and play.


A Place for All:

A community-wide focus for cultural, entertainment and institutional activities will be provided for all the residents and businesses of Markham.

A Vibrant Centre:

A vibrant mix of activities will be available on the streets and squares where people live, work, shop and play.

A Sense of Place:

Public spaces and public Streets framed by human-scale buildings with high-quality design that generates an attractive and comfortable environment.

A Community Integrated with Nature:

The Rouge River valley is a green spine connecting the broader Markham community to its Centre and knitting the Markham Centre community together.

A "Walkable" Downtown:

A place where pedestrians move safely, easily and comfortably on streets and in public spaces, gaining equality with the automobile.

An Accessible Centre:

A high-performance, accessible transit system will be supported by a highly connected roads to allow for easy movement to and around Markham Centre.

An Accessible Centre-Family walking along downtown streetIn the early ’90s, Markham set out on a path that would protect our natural environment and give residents the quality of life they expect. The idea was to limit outward expansion and concentrate our growth on a vibrant centre that would emphasize mixed use development and rapid transit. In other words, we would build a community where people come first.

Markham Centre, the 988 acre area between Highways 7 and 407, around Warden Avenue, is regarded as a model for sustainable development. It will have a distinctly urban character – higher density development with strong streetscapes – complemented by ample green spaces. It will provide a diverse range of housing opportunities to encourage seniors, singles, empty-nesters and families to live and work in our community.

Markham Centre will be integrated into the natural beauty of the Rouge River Valley, with a walkable downtown and a high-performance transit system. When finished, it will be a place where residents, businesses, culture, entertainment and institutions thrive side by side.

Putting people and families first, bringing jobs closer to home, and protecting our environment – this is the vision for Markham Centre, and that vision is now well on its way to becoming reality.


Public Input Defines Markham Centre Vision

Markham residents have been engaged in a dialogue with the City over the years to define their vision for the future. Through numerous workshops, open houses, conferences and surveys people have shaped the plan and will continue to guide its implementation.

Step by Step the vision for Markham Centre was built on the recommendations and input gathered from an extensive public consultation process that began in 1992 through to the present.

  • This vision was built into the Markham Centre Secondary Plan and Markham Centre Development Principles that provide a framework for the development of Markham Centre, within which measurable benchmarks have been established.
  • In 1993, the City adopted changes to the designated urban boundaries of Markham. These changes were based on a series of policy documents including the City's Municipal Housing Statement and Urban Expansion Study, and the Province's Land Use Planning for Housing policy statement.
  • In 1994, Council adopted the Markham Centre Secondary Plan.

The Vision Becomes the City's Policy as OPA 21

  • Approved by the Ontario Municipal Board in 1997, Official Plan Amendment #21 laid out a strong planning foundation. Some of the key essentials OPA 21 addresses are:
    • Protection of the natural environment;
    • Building a supportive public transit infrastructure;
    • Promotion of a mixed-use, high quality and compact urban form;
    • Setting targets for population and employment land AND; providing for a range of parks, public squares and community amenities.
  • While OPA 21 sets out the broad framework for the development of Markham Centre, summarized by 11 Guiding Development Principles, the details of the layout of the local streets, development parcels, parks, schools, mix of uses, architectural treatment of buildings and public spaces have yet to be finalized.
  • In Fall 2001, Markham conducted an Environics Survey of Social Values and Satisfaction. Results of this survey are being used to guide the decision-making process.
  • A 20-member Advisory Group comprised of representatives from Markham business, residents and special interest groups was assembled in April 2002 to develop an initial set of performance measures intended to help shape the details of Markham Centre.
  • The Advisory Group sponsored a series of public workshops focused on five key themes: Greenlands, Transportation, Build Form, Infrastructure and Public/Open Spaces designed to measure the City's success in developing a mixed-use and environmentally sustainable community.
  • Markham council adopted 10 Guiding Principles in early 2002 to provide clarity and direction to the vision for Markham Centre. An eleventh principle was adopted by Council on April 1, 2003 to highlight the value placed on quality of life for residents and communities not only within and adjacent to Markham Centre, but also throughout the City. Endorsed by Markham citizens, the principles were embodied in the Markham Centre Secondary Plan (OPA21).
  • To ensure the Performance Measures continued to remain current, but leading edge, a consultant was retained in 2006 to work with the Advisory Group and identify a strategy for relating the document to the Canada Green Building Council's L.E.E.D. New Construction - Version 1.0 (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating systems. In addition the document was simplified; clarified and updated ensuring each performance measure had a corresponding performance indicator. The new measure would be used in the review of development applications in Markham Centre.
  • In November 2007, City Council endorsed the updated document. The Performance Measures are now benchmarked against requirements of Canada Green Building Council's L.E.E.D. New Construction - Version 1.0. Potential opportunities are identified for development within Markham Centre to be in a position to qualify for various L.E.E.D. credits based on adherence to the performance measures