While there are several projects now planned and under construction in anticipation of the Yonge-University-Spadina line's extension to Vaughan Centre station, another proposed transit station to the east may bring a lot more dense, mixed use and walkable development to this traditionally suburban city "above" Toronto.
The City of Vaughan is planning for a new GO station at Concord to be added along the Barrie line at Highway 7. Encouraged by the potential new hub, Liberty Development has proposed a far-sighted master plan that will complement the transportation node with density and walkability through new residential, commercial and recreational uses.
The proposed site is bounded by existing industrial uses to the north, the West Don Tributary Ravine/Bartley Smith Trail to the east, Regional Road (Highway) 7 to the south, and the C.N.R. Rail line that is used for GO's Barrie service to the west. York Region's plan for the the Concord GO Station guides growth to 2031, and promotes an integrated transportation network with direct connections to VIVA rapid transit, at grade pedestrian and cycling connections, along with its proximity to Highway 7 and 407.
Liberty's proposed development would include almost 4,000 residential units within 9 apartment buildings ranging in height from 4 to 38 storeys. The site would add 58,500 square metres of business and office space, and almost 20,000 square metres of retail space. More than 5 hectares of parkland and connections to the existing Bartley Smith trail system would also be preserved.
The development proposes a series of tapered towers with residential density concentrated on the site's east edge, overlooking the West Don River. The heights descend toward the centre of the site, where provisions for open space create a central promenade, and a focal point for the development. The entrance to the GO Station would also open onto the promenade, creating a welcoming environment for pedestrians and concentrating flows on what could be a lively urban plaza.
The project is awaiting approval from York Regional Council, as zoning must be changed from its agricultural designation to allow for high density residential and mixed uses (the Open Space designation along the Don would remain). Changes to the plan, however, are consistent with Vaughan's Official Plan, released in 2010, and Vaughan Vision 2020, both of which encourage concentration of growth along transportation nodes.
The plan for Concord's GO Station and Liberty Development Group's complementary site plan signals Vaughan's commitments to principles of transit oriented development. As York Region reviews the proposal, it will take into consideration pedestrian connectivity, universal accessibility, and a road pattern, built form and urban design that ensures environmental sustainability. Along with the subway extension and its associated projects, another proposed development that includes urban main streets that are compact, mixed-use, and pedestrian and transit-friendly certainly signals Vaughan's coming out as a city.
UrbanToronto will continue to provide updates as the proposal is reviewed by York Region and the design is updated and refined.
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