"Gosh, it's cold out, isn't it?" exclaimed York Region Chair Wayne Emmerson as he struggled to turn the pages of his speaking notes with frozen fingers and a steady gust of winter wind blowing his way.

And cold it was—and muddy, too—as Emmerson and other federal, provincial and municipal dignitaries officially dug the first shovelfuls of earth to mark the launch of construction for a new York Region Transit bus terminal in Vaughan.

York Region Chair Wayne Emmerson speaks at the launch event, image by Robert Mackenzie

While the site may be empty, cold, and muddy now, it won't be for long. Later this year, the area will be hot and hopping with activity. Opening next December, the new bus terminal near Highway 7 and Jane Street will help YRT passengers to connect with the TTC's upcoming extension to Line 1 (Yonge–University) at Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Station. The terminal and subway station, in turn, will be the heart of a massive commercial and residential redevelopment of Vaughan's new downtown, some of it already in place, some of it under construction, and much still in the planning stage.

An earth mover looms over the head of officials, its operators waiting for the ceremony to end, image by Robert Mackenzie

Joining Emmerson at the podium were Francesco Sorbara, Member of Parliament for Vaughan–Woodbridge on behalf of the Honourable Amajeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, the Honourable Stephen Del Duca, Ontario's Minister of Transportation (and also the Member of Provincial Parliament for Vaughan), and Maurizio Bevilacqua, the Mayor of the City of Vaughan.

Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua at the event, image by Robert Mackenzie

The new inter-regional terminal will boast nine bus platforms and a passenger and pedestrian connection to the new subway station. Diamond Schmitt Architects have designed the horseshoe-shape terminal to be accessible at street level in all directions. YRT passengers can walk from the terminal through the subway station to an underground connection to a new Viva bus rapid transit station in the centre of Highway 7, already well under construction.

Viva Bus Rapid Transit station under construction in the middle of Highway 7, image by Jack Landau

The total cost to build the terminal is about $32.1 million. Of this total, the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension project funded $18.1 million, while the Regional Municipality of York contributed an additional $13.5 million for the terminal alone. SmartREIT, the developers of Walmart and SmartCentres "big-box" retail shopping areas, provided another $15 million for an extra pedestrian connection into the subway station from Millway Avenue.

Introducing the SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal, rendering by Diamond Schmitt Architects

SmartREIT is participating, in part, because it encouraged the project planners to relocate the terminal from a site east of the subway station structure to its current location north of the station. SmartREIT has also acquired the right to name the terminal, which it has dubbed the SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal.

A partnership with the government of Canada, the Province, the City of Toronto, and York Region partly supports the subway project. Canada has supplied $697 million, Ontario $870 million, Toronto $907 million, and York $606 million.

An aerial view of the Smart Centre Place Bus Terminal, rendering courtesy vivaNext

You can also learn more about this and other projects at the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre through our dataBase files, which we've linked below. Want to share your thoughts? Leave a comment in the space provided on this page, or join the conversation in our associated Forum thread.

Related Companies:  Arup Canada, CFMS Consulting Inc., Claude Cormier + Associés, Diamond Schmitt Architects, entro, Grimshaw Architects, IBI Group, Isotherm Engineering Ltd., LiveRoof Ontario Inc, Metrolinx, Paul Raff Studio, PCL, RJC Engineers, SmartCentres, SmartREIT, Toronto Transit Commission, Trillium Architectural Products