Massive development project at Downsview Park ready for next step

The Downsview Lands transformation is steadily making progress—the project’s Community Development Plan will be considered by the City of Toronto’s Economic and Community Development Committee on April 30, and the draft Secondary Plan, urban design guidelines, and zoning by-law will be considered by the Planning and Housing Committee on May 9. These items will then be considered by City Council in late May.

Plans for the development of Downsview Parklands were released in 2021, showing how developer Northcrest and the Canada Lands Company (CLC), which is responsible for managing property on behalf of the federal government, hope to build the project over the next 30 years, through a process called id8 Downsview.

The 528 acres of land comprise Downsview Park (near the intersection of Keele St. and Sheppard Ave. W.), as well as the Toronto Wildlife Centre, the Downsview Park Film and Television Studios, and the Downsview Park Arts Alliance. The site was previously home to a Canadian Forces base (considered surplus Government of Canada lands), the Downsview Airport, and an airport manufacturer.

The idea is to develop the area to facilitate new housing, jobs, parks, open spaces, and community services. Downsview Park won’t be reduced in size, but earlier this year, developers Mattamy Homes and Urbancorp revealed their plans for a 63-acre master-planned community at Downsview Park (meaning that the community could now see more than 1,000 units in the area).

The Downsview West District, which is adjacent to Downsview Park, will also see hefty changes; the developer’s plans suggest that the development of the 30-hectare (74-acre) mixed-use site will lead to more than 8,000 new residential units (20% designated for affordable housing), 1.4 million ft² of non-residential space, and more than 6400 jobs.

David Anselmi, Senior Director, Real Estate, for CLC, told Urban Toronto that they are also preparing to submit a new district plan by this summer.

The Arbo district (previously known as William Baker) will be a mixed-use neighbourhood featuring green infrastructure, a multi-block, 1,400-unit mixed-use community at Sheppard and Keele (20% of units will be affordable housing), a mix of residential spaces (including markets and affordable, seniors “continuum of care” housing options), as well as non-residential uses, like offices, retail spaces, and restaurants. Overall, the neighbourhood is expected to have about 4,000 units upon completion.

The CLC will also continue to collaborate with Centennial College to expand the Downsview Aerospace Campus (65 Carl Hall Rd.). The vision includes a ‘makerspace’ collaborative work space for students to learn and share ideas, an extension to the Aerospace campus (to celebrate the site’s history of innovation in aviation), and a connective cycling network that links the site and areas beyond.

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