Main Street Unionville Community Vision Plan

In January 2013, Council responded to a request by the Unionville Business Improvement Area Board (UBIA) and authorized the Main Street Unionville Precinct Master Plan study. The consulting team of Torti Gallas and Partners Inc., Michael Morrissey and an alliance of independent sub-consultants were engaged to develop a strategic vision focused on historic Main Street Unionville.

Study Objective

The overall objective of the study was to create a plan to help guide future decisions by all involved in the historic Unionville community, and find the appropriate balance to protect this unique heritage environment while ensuring its economic vitality and prosperity.

The study explored a variety of current issues and objectives including:

  • the need or desire for additional development;
  • the need for more parking, and how to achieve it;
  • the need for additional public infrastructure to serve both local requirements and visitors;
  • the desire for less restrictions on certain land uses in the area;
  • the opportunities to further utilize the floodplain area;
  • the opportunities to assist the local business community along both Hwy 7 and Main Street;
  • potential future partnerships with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, the School Board, adjacent residential groups, festival organizers, sports organizations and the Unionville Curling Club;
  • how to balance the desires and requirements of visitors and the business community, with the needs and expectations of local residents;
  • how to continue to protect and enhance an extremely unique and fragile historic village and all its attributes within a thriving and ever-growing City of Markham.

Stages of the Study

Stage 1 – Existing Conditions Analysis and Consultation

The Study team reviewed existing documentation and conditions as well as conducted numerous meetings with key stakeholders, including community representatives and Markham staff members, to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the community in preparation for a five day Charrette. A market analysis and examination of population and demographic characteristics was also undertaken.

Stage 2 – Five Day Charrette

A charrette is a combination of an on-location design studio and an old fashioned town meeting that allows interaction by all involved. The study charrette was undertaken over five days in the first week of June 2013 in the Crosby Memorial Arena on Main Street Unionville. This process allowed the public and staff to watch concepts being developed, and to participate and engage with the design master plan team throughout the event. The team identified ten key focus areas starting at Hwy 7 and moving north to Toogood Pond. Each focus area was designed and developed to demonstrate conceptual improvement opportunities for both private and public lands and through potential public/private partnerships with groups such as the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), the school board, the Arena and the Curling Club, and to explore retail and streetscape enhancement in the core area.

Stage 3 – Preliminary Concept Master Plan

Based on the feedback from the Charrette presentations, the consulting team worked to refine and test specific concepts and to focus more detailed work on some of the key areas such as Hwy 7, the commercial core and the Arena sports area. The purpose of producing these dynamic urban designs was to reflect the physical embodiment of a renewed vision for a comprehensive, mixed-use, pedestrian intense Main Street area.

Stage 4 – Final Concept Master Plan

Based on the feedback from presentations on key focus areas, the consulting team prepared the final concept master plan document.

Vision Plan Overview and Focus Areas

The overview section of the Vision Plan explores the groundwork upon which the plan was created over 18 months. It explores the top issues that need to be tackled as well as the Plan’s Vision Statement and goals, with a desire to sustain the Main Street socially, economically and environmentally. The Vision Statement proclaims that “Main Street Unionville shall become a vibrant, thriving and successful heritage village that is a regional destination, but serves local needs.”

As part of the larger, overall vision, there are individual focus areas that were identified and targeted for in-depth study. As the Plan notes, each area has its own challenges, issues and stakeholders, including “champions” who can help to realize the specific vision concepts. It is also important to note that some focus areas could be implemented independently while other focus areas are dependent on projects/improvements necessary in at least one other area, such as the village commercial core concepts where parking for west side development is proposed to be provided elsewhere. The various individual focus area proposals are conceptual in nature, but are considered implementable based upon the experience of the consulting team and after extensive consultation with civic officials, property owners and members of the public. To implement any of the individual proposals would still require further planning approvals and public consultation. The focus areas are:

  • Hwy 7 Gateway and Corridor
  • Stiver Mill Area
  • Main Street Village Core –West Side South
  • Main Street Village Core – West Side North
  • Main Street Village Core – East Side
  • Village Square – Main Street and Carlton Road
  • Crosby Community Centre
  • Toogood Pond Park and Amphitheatre

Reports

Markham Council – on January 13, 2015, the Vision Plan was endorsed in principle (subject to certain modifications) ) as a guideline for a future Secondary Plan for the area and that the City and other affected parties/ stakeholders be guided by the general direction of the Vision Plan when initiating or reviewing proposed changes in both the public and private realms of the Unionville Heritage Conservation District.

Current Status

Staff continue to work with the private sector and the Historic Unionville Community Vision Committee to implement the Vision Plan. As to progress to date, see the attached presentation from March 2019.

The Vision Plan

Further Information

Please direct any questions and requests for further information to the Heritage Section of the Planning and Urban Design Department.

Email: heritage@markham.ca