When the Toronto York Spadina Subway Extension was announced in 2006, its new terminal station at Highway 7 in Vaughan meant that the new line was derided as 'the subway to nowhere' by many Torontonians, me included. Vaughan's movers and shakers had other ideas though, and to indicate that a downtown would replace the surface parking lots and big box stores that then defined the site, they named the future station 'Vaughan Metropolitan Centre'. That too was derided as too grandiose by many of the same Torontonians… again, me included.

Vaughan Metropolitan Centre subway station entrance, image courtesy of the TTCVaughan Metropolitan Centre subway station entrance, image courtesy of the TTC

The people who named the station weren't kidding around though: they hired Diamond Schmitt Architects and Claude Cormier + Associés to master plan a downtown, and then they went about finding companies to lease space in the new buildings. When the KPMG tower was the first office building to open there in isolation in 2016, the dream of a 'Metropolitan Centre' still felt like a bit of a dream… but the quality of the project was high, inside and out, thanks to the architect, the anchor tenant and their interior designer, and the landscape architects.

KPMG Tower at Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, initial context, Diamond Schmitt ArchKPMG Tower at Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, initial context, image courtesy of Diamond Schmitt Architects

Half-way into 2017, two 55-storey condos onsite have sold out in 10 days, a third is on its way, and other condos are selling, under construction, or occupying nearby. Now, a second office building is going under construction, and it's coming with the kind of community facilities that you want—if you want to build a real, living community, that is. Maybe this Metropolitan Centre thing is going to happen.

Transit City 1 & 2 at Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, CentreCourt DevelopmentsTransit City 1 & 2 to the north of the subway station and SmartCentres bus terminal, image courtesy of CentreCourt Developments

Today was the official ground breaking for the PwC Tower, YMCA, and Vaughan Public Library, Metropolitan Centre Branch. With Mitch Goldhar, the President and CEO of SmartCentres speaking first, over a hundred people connected with bringing the project about listened as Goldhar described the moment he first heard that the TTC wanted to put a subway station on his company's land. Goldhar realized that this was a chance to do much more than just build a transit hub, and he began to talk with others about a fully fledged rebuilding of the area, making a downtown for Vaughan that would transition this suburb into a real city.

Ground breaking ceremony for the Vaughan Centre PwC Tower, YMCA, Public LibraryMayor Bevilacqua speaks to more than a hundred gathered for the ceremony, image by Craig White

Following Goldhar, speakers included Medhat Mahdy from the YMCA, Devender Sandhu of the Vaughan Public Library, Raj Kothari of PwC, Minister of Transport and local MPP Steven Del Duca, and Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua. All spoke of their determination to build something of quality in the new centre of Vaughan, and of how proud they are of their colleagues in terms of what has been created so far, and what is coming next.

Ground breaking ceremony for the Vaughan Centre PwC Tower, YMCA, Public LibraryGround breaking ceremony for the Vaughan Centre PwC Tower, image by Craig White

Following the speeches and a timely let-up of the rain, the group took up shovels and gathered behind a mound of earth in front of the building site. Ground breaking ceremonies are seldom take place on the actual date of ground breaking: some take place weeks before, some after. In this case, a view over the hoarding showed that the excavation was already underway, having begun the in last couple of weeks. A pile and lagging shoring system is already in evidence to the right of the image below as the earth removal proceeds.

Looking over the hoarding shows that excavation is already underway, Vaughan PwCLooking over the hoarding shows that excavation is already underway, image by Craig White

Below, an image of what is to come. Given a couple years' time, PwC will have moved their regional offices into the new tower, and Vaughan residents will be enjoying a new 10,000 square foot library branch and a new YMCA. Given another year or so, the first two towers of CentreCourt Developments' Transit City Condos will rise within a minute's walk to the north. With the new subway station and bus terminal, the new public square, and grade level retail, Vaughan Metropolitan Centre should be off to quite a good start.

Looking northwest to the Vaughan Centre PwC Tower, YMCA, Vaughan Public LibraryLooking northwest to the Vaughan Centre PwC Tower, YMCA, and Vaughan Public Library, image courtesy of SmartCentres

You can find more renderings of the Vaughan Centre PwC Tower, YMCA, and Vaughan Public Library in the Database file linked below, as you will for other nearby projects. You can get in on the conversation in the associated Forum thread, or you can leave a comment in the space provided on this page.