Canada Square is back in the headlines with an updated plan for the 9.2-acre redevelopment site at Yonge and Eglinton that over time will transform the southwest quadrant of this prominent Midtown Toronto intersection into a new civic hub for the area. Currently dominated by mid-rise office towers and elevated parking structures, office space would continue here while new uses including extensive public open space would be introduced.
The 37,332m² site has had a long history as the original terminus of the Yonge Line 1 subway, starting in the 1950s with a land-intensive major bus terminal in the site's northwest corner, fronting on Eglinton and Duplex avenues. Once the subway was extended north of Eglinton in the 1970s, fewer bus lines were needed to be served here, and the bus terminal was relocated into an area below a large parking garage on the site (seen shaded brown in the image below).
Now that the Eglinton Line 5 Crosstown is under construction and set to open an interchange station with Yonge Line 1 here in the near future, possibilities for the improving the site are increasing again. Bus transfer handling requirements will drop once more as many transit riders will be transferring between the subway and the LRT line instead, opening up more of the site for redevelopment.
Ever since plans for the new east-west transit line began to solidify in the first decade of the 2000s, the redevelopment of the increasingly outdated structures here has been an ongoing conversation. Comprehensive plans roared to life in late 2020 when the development partnership of Oxford Properties Group and CT REIT submitted plans to the City for a five-tower plus public space replacement for every structure on the site. Requiring an Official Plan amendment as well as Zoning By-Law amendments, the reception to the initial plan was mixed, with plenty suggestions for improvement via public engagement and from trip to Toronto's Design Review Panel, the hoped-for changes largely in relation to the management of public space.
Two years later, Oxford and CT REIT have submitted a throughly revised proposal, still for a mixed-use community of five towers plus public space, but significantly reworked. While the initial plans were created chiefly by renowned architects Pelli Clarke Pelli, Hariri Pontarini Architects, and Urban Strategies Inc., Pelli Clarke Pelli have since been dropped from the team. In introducing the new plan at an online public meeting in December, 2022, David Pontarini, Principal at Hariri Pontarini emphasized that the plan — while accompanied by high quality new renderings — at this stage is more about the re-siting of the buildings around an improved public realm, and that the exterior expression of the buildings is not yet set: none of these images reflect the final architectural expressions of the buildings that are proposed to rise here, those will come later as individual phases are presented for approval.
The changes we can take from the updated plans can best be seen in a comparison of the late 2020 site plan (left, below) and late 2022 site plan (right, below).
In the previous site plan, all existing structures were removed, with an east-west oriented central POPS (Privately Owned Publicly accessible Space) situated between phases 1 and 2-3. A phase 1 tower faces Eglinton, while 4 towers in phases 2 and 3 are arranged around a cul-de-sac to the south. An L-shaped road is constructed to service the cul-de-sac and join Berwick to the south with Duplex to the west. An 1,800m² parkland dedication on the west side of the new road was included.
In the current site plan, the office building at 2200 Yonge is maintained in place, which preserves some Modernist history at the site and sequesters the carbon stored in the building's materials. The cul-de-sac and L-shaped road are removed, and in their place is a more pedestrian-friendly design that increases the parkland dedication to 4,200m² while redistributing towers and podiums in a more grid-like fashion and reworking mid-block connections both east-west and north-south, with a mixed pedestrian-car woonerf in place to handle vehicles heading to garages for towers 3 through 5.
On the eastern edge of the site, a public square that addresses Yonge Street and its high pedestrian use has been outlined as one of the community’s primary gathering places. Meanwhile, in the shared podium of the T3-T4 towers, a proposed Community Use Space of ~5,000m² would front on the new public park. Considering the scarcity of public greenspace in Midtown, the new park here will likely be highly patronized, and various public agencies will condiser the Community Use Space facing it so that a best purpose for it can be determined.
At the north end of the site, the revised proposal shows a concerted effort to improve the TTC bus terminal infrastructure, envisioning a more harmonious transit hub with a much smaller footprint tucked into the podium below the new phase 1 tower. Transfers among the transit services would be made here, with access also from a new street-level plaza at the corner of Yonge and Eglinton.
Also noteworthy is a change to the programming of the pedestrian walkways that span the site; taking the advice of the DRP to improve the project’s mix of uses within its own borders, the walkways would now be lined with retailers, injecting the site with foot traffic that welcomes the wider public as well. On the north half of the site, the walkway would enjoy a sheltering canopy, creating a rain and blizzard-protected atrium with direct access to the subway and offices.
The project maintains the phased approach of the previous proposal, beginning with the development of the 65-storey northernmost tower — with office space on its larger lower floors and residential suites on the reduced floor-plates above — followed by another two phases that would add for more primarily residential towers to the community.
Managing the affordability crisis currently plaguing the city is a consideration with the residential plans here; while a market rate rental model expected to be applied to the majority of the units, some affordable housing units will be provided, the percentage still to be determined.
Upon completion, the community would boast a total gross floor area of 279,653m² while injecting 2,892 new dwelling units and delivering a distributed mix of office and retail spaces, with 40,618m² and 6,513m² of total area allotted to each respectively, plus the Community Use Space and the various open spaces.
UrbanToronto will continue to follow progress on this development, but in the meantime, you can learn more about it from our Database file, linked below. If you'd like, you can join in on the conversation in the associated Project Forum thread or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.
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|Gradient Wind Engineers & Scientists, Hariri Pontarini Architects, HGC Engineering Inc, OJB Landscape Architecture, Urban Strategies Inc.