Intensification Strategy

Intensification within the City’s current settlement area is a key component of the City’s endorsed growth alternative, which focuses on containing growth within the current settlement area.


An Intensification Strategy is necessary to guide Markham’s vision for its intensification areas. The vision provides for predominantly mixed use, pedestrian friendly,liveable communities that will generally be served by higher order transit and will be transit supportive.

The Intensification Strategy will provide an overall direction on:

  • where both residential and employment intensification should occur;
  • the amount of development that is appropriate, and
  • anticipated phasing of development, having regard for the emphasis the Province and Region have placed on intensification as the means of encouraging the development of urban centres and corridors at densities which can support transit.

In April 2009, Council endorsed a set of working principles and a hierarchy of intensification locations as a basis and framework for finalizing a Markham Intensification Strategy addressing both residential and employment intensification within the City’s current settlement area.

The City’s intensification principles, reflecting input from Councillors and community meetings, emphasize sustainable development in transit nodes and corridors, appropriate to overall City development requirements and the area context in which it occurs. Existing residential areas and designated employment areas are to be protected from residential intensification.

The City’s intensification hierarchy established the overall context for residential and employment intensification by allotting density in a hierarchical manner:

Regional Centres (highest intensity of development) Key Development Areas Major Corridors Local Centres and Corridors

By planning for more compact development of intensification areas within the current settlement area, the City can create more sustainable, higher density, mixed use communities which will:

  • improve land use efficiency
  • reduce reliance on the automobile by providing transit supportive densities
  • result in more efficient use of infrastructure
  • provide for a variety of housing forms to help meet the needs of a growing and diversifying population and offer more
  • affordable housing choices
  • provide for a diverse and compatible mix of land uses that accommodate employment opportunities for local residents and offer more live work choices

Accommodating new, more intense development will require transitions in scale and form that are sensitive to existing residential neighbourhoods. Recognizing the importance of good urban design for intensification areas, Council endorsed a set of principles and guidelines for built form, height and massing of development with measures to address impact on the public realm, on pedestrian safety and comfort, and on adjacent existing residential neighbourhoods. The principles and guidelines have been created for mid-rise and high-rise buildings related to, among other things, location, placement and separation, orientation, and lot coverage and footprint.

Section 37 of the Planning Act can play a key role in the delivery of the City's intensification strategy by providing the opportunity for the City to obtain additional community benefits in areas of increased residential and employment activity. Depending on the intensification area that a development is located in and the nature of the application, it could result in very different requests for height and/or density increases based on the planning context and very different additional community benefits based on identified needs.


Staff will finalize the City's Intensification Strategy within the context of the proposed new Official Plan.


Additional information is available from the following staff reports and presentations:


  • Sept 21 - Revised Section 37 Official Plan Policies and Guidelines for Implementation, Report
  • March - Built Form Massing & Height Study, Built Form Principles


  • May 4 - Recommended Section 37 Official Plan Policies and Guidelines for Implementation, Report
  • May 5 - Toward a Markham Growth Management Strategy: Section 37 Official Plan Policies and Guidelines, Report
  • May 26 - Built Form Massing & Height Study, Presentation
  • Apr 7 - Outlining an Intensification Strategy, Report


  • Apr 29 - Intensification Analysis: Method & Examples, Presentation
  • Sept. 11 Intensification/Design Study, Presentation


Murray Boyce, Senior Policy Coordinator
E-mail: mboyce@markham
Phone: 905-477-7000 extension 2094