A couple of kilometres to the northwest of York University's main campus, a new downtown for the suburban Toronto municipality of Vaughan is gradually becoming a reality. A new breed of buildings are opening or under construction in the area dubbed the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC), and the days are ticking down to the December 17th opening of the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension.

70 years ago, the Jane and Highway 7 intersection—which is now establishing itself as the heart of the urbanizing suburb—was part of the Village of Edgeley, a countryside settlement surrounded by apple orchards and fields, far removed from the hustle and bustle of Downtown Toronto. Edgeley's quaint beginnings took a turn in the mid-20th century following the 1965 opening of the nearby 1,000-acre Canadian National Railway yards, with significant industrial developments replacing the area's plentiful agricultural lands in the decades that followed. Now, aside from street names like Apple Mill Road and Buttermill Avenue, few traces of the village remain.

Just east of Jane Street and north of Highway 7, another reminder of the town's past is the Edgeley Pond, where Black Creek mixes with stormwater runoff in a wetland environment. Natural features that the site boasts include an island with Red Oak trees in excess of two-hundred years old.

Edgeley Pond + Park, Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, Jane Street, Highway 7Site of Edgeley Pond in Vaughan, image via Google Maps

For Vaughan's downtown to come together, the area will require more than just residential and commercial development, with public spaces set to make up a significant part of it. At the pond site, Vaughan will create an attractive public space that respects the site's natural history while improving the quality of urban stormwater and the management of 767 hectares of the Black Creek sub-watershed. To accomplish this, the City of Vaughan has retained the team of DTAH and WSP to design a new park that integrates an enhanced Edgeley Pond.

Edgeley Pond + Park, Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, Jane Street, Highway 7Edgeley Pond + Park, image via vaughan.ca

Design for Edgeley Pond + Park commenced in October 2016, with an aggressive timeline that aims for a completed park space by spring 2018. The timeline dictated a consultation and outreach period ending December 2016, the confirmation of design principles and vision by February 2017, and the creation of three conceptual design options by May 2017. The concepts were modelled with six guiding goals—to design a park for the future; to celebrate storm water; to establish habitat, enhance ecology, educate and inform; to create new connections; to activate and create new opportunities; and to create an iconic VMC park.

Edgeley Pond + Park, Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, Jane Street, Highway 7Edgeley Pond + Park design concepts, image via vaughan.ca

Concept 1 (Sculpted Landforms) featured a vision statement that made use of man-made landforms to define the park's design language. Concept 2 (Terraced Landforms) called for architectural walls and grade separations to create a "more formal" landscaping approach with terraces that step down from surrounding streets. Concept 3 (Basins + Ecologies) included wall placement and topography manipulation to form a group of stormwater basins. A preferred concept has evolved from these three initial plans, drawing primarily from Concept 1 while also pulling strengths from concepts 2 and 3.

Edgeley Pond + Park, Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, Jane Street, Highway 7Edgeley Pond + Park preferred concept, image via vaughan.ca

The preferred concept features sculpted landforms, a "strata park" with active use areas like a skating loop, splash pad, play equipment, all-season washroom, and community room pavilion. Community gardens are to be housed near the park pavilion north of the active use areas, while an informal amphitheater is to be built next to the open water body in the park's southeast corner. The standout feature is to be an east-west pedestrian/cycle bridge connecting Applemill Road and Jane Street to Maplecrete Road. A shorter secondary bridge of similar design will be built at the north end of the park near Portage Parkway.

Edgeley Pond + Park, Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, Jane Street, Highway 7View from the main pedestrian/cycle bridge, image via vaughan.ca

An urban plaza at the northeast corner of Jane St and Hwy 7 will accommodate the change in grade between the intersection and the adjacent Zzen + Midvale high-rise development at 2966-2986 Hwy 7. To the north, much of the park's Jane Street frontage would be defined by sculpted landforms, offering elevated views of the park. The re-routing of existing hydro lines underground would be necessary to accomplish this landscaping.

Edgeley Pond + Park, Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, Jane Street, Highway 7View of LID stormwater management feature, image via vaughan.ca

At the park's northwest corner, a smaller pedestrian plaza will be built beside Jane Street and to the immediate south of Plaza's The Met, a condo tower and townhome community already well under construction at the park's northern border. The park will connect with this development's public realm through 3 controlled locations. A planting program for the park preserves the island's old oak trees while also giving a nod to the Village of Edgeley's history with groups of orchard plantings.

Edgeley Pond + Park, Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, Jane Street, Highway 7Northwest plaza at Edgeley Pond + Park, image via vaughan.ca

With the schematic design in place, the next steps for the project will be the delivery of a detailed design—anticipated for December—and the issuing of construction documents, expected for July 2018. Construction for the park would be carried out in two phases, with the first phase set to include the Jane Street Lighting Strategy and Promenade, an LID stormwater management feature, the north park entrance, the island with mature oak trees, the open water body, viewing platform, and amphitheatre, the strata park and active play area, the urban mews, and the urban plaza with a transitional stormwater management feature. A second phase of work will add the primary and secondary bridge crossings, park pavilion, community garden plots and food hub, the orchard planting, and new park connections including a north-east gateway node.

Edgeley Pond + Park, Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, Jane Street, Highway 7Construction phasing, image via vaughan.ca

We will return as additional information about Edgeley Park becomes available. In the meantime, you can follow along in our Forum thread for the project, linked here, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

To request more info directly from The Met click here