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Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Growth Plan

Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Growth Plan
Source: City of Vaughan

VMC’s New Downtown

Under the Provincial Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC) Growth Plan is considered one of the most anticipated master-planned communities.

The VMC Growth Plan has the largest growth targets out of the entire 25 Urban Growth Centres across Ontario and has a minimum growth density target of 200 people and jobs per hectare by 2031.

The VMC boundaries extend from Highway 400 to the west, Portage Parkway to the north, Creditstone Road to the east, and Highway 407 to the south.

The Growth Plan sets guidelines on where and how growth should occur within a specific region. For the VMC, these growth targets are designed to ensure the downtown core is built to be both prosperous and sustainable.

Downtown Vaughan has vast growth opportunities and continues to establish itself as the premier destination to live, work, and most importantly, invest.

Growth Targets

According to the Province’s Growth Plan targets established for the Greater Golden Horseshoe region, the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre is expected to see an astounding growth projection of 850% in terms of both people and jobs by 2031.

This target makes the VMC the city with the largest growth projection out of the entire 25 Urban Growth Centres across Ontario. These growth targets are designed to achieve a critical mass of a downtown by achieving a minimum density target of 200 people and jobs per hectare.

The current VMC Secondary Plan has established a population target for the area of 25,000 residents and 11,500 jobs by 2031. However, the City is still working on a VMC Secondary Plan Update that will consider revising the population target to match both the assumptions and potential for more residential growth that currently represents more than 63,352 residents in 31,996 units moving into the VMC. This would see the region achieve 267% of residential units and 253% of population targets that were initially identified under the growth plan for 2031.

 

Population and employment density for top urban growth centres

These new forecasts are based on a number of factors such as:

  • 2,137 units that are occupied
  • 4,383 units under construction
  • 6,758 units approved by Council
  • 5,125 units submitted as part of complete development applications
  • 13,593 units identified in pre-application projects (proposed)
  • 538,770 square feet of new commercial office space that has been approved, representing 2,176 jobs
  • 3 new development applications that propose an additional 1,114,544 square feet of office space. which would see a 110% increase of the 2031 office target
  • 543,994 square feet of retail that has been proposed for mixed-use developments, which would represent 72% of the 2031 retail target

The changes happening with the VMC are seeing the average density of projects increasing with new applications, which is why the VMC Secondary Plan is still being reviewed and updated to ensure it represents a balance of community services and social infrastructure that will enable the VMC to become a complete community.

Currently, the VMC Mobility Hub has over 15,000 daily subway riders and 5,600 weekday bus travellers. In addition, the pipeline of approved and proposed applications for development has enough units for approximately 40,000 residents. The Growth Plan forecasts indicate York Region is anticipated to accommodate the largest number of population and employment growth in all of Ontario between 2016 and 2041.

An annual employment growth of 12,000 is required to meet the 2031 Growth Plan employment forecast, meanwhile the region has been growing by approximately 18,000 jobs per year over the past 5 years. In fact, by this time next year, employment growth in Vaughan is expected to increase by approximately 11% compared to 2017 data, while the target for 2031 is expected to see a remarkable 27% increase in overall employment growth for the region.

Vision for VMC
Source: City of Vaughan

Vision for VMC

Creating a True 'Downtown'

The Vaughan Metropolitan Centre is an emerging downtown set to become the innovative, cultural, and most importantly, financial hub of Vaughan.

Creating a true ‘downtown’ has been the vision for the City of Vaughan dating back to the 1980's and 1990's when rapid growth changed the city from a small, quiet suburban community into what we see today - a thriving urban centre.

The Vaughan Metropolitan Centre has now become the City's new downtown with a vision that includes developing a modern, vibrant urban centre for residents and businesses with a host of amenities for an urban lifestyle that includes:

  • Multi-use office towers to accommodate a variety of employment uses
  • Complete neighbourhoods with newly-built condo residences
  • Post-secondary educational institutions
  • Government offices and cultural facilities
  • Multimodal transit hub, including the TTC, Viva, YRT and ZUM
  • Civic and open green spaces, including parks with walking and cycling paths, and
  • Pedestrian shopping areas and restaurants

The features and amenities above are just a few examples of the type of vision the VMC has for the Vaughan region where there is a clear emphasis on growing and developing residential neighbourhoods that are socially diverse and contain a mix of housing types suitable for everyone, including seniors and families with children.

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Residential and Employment

To fulfill the VMC’s role as a central business district, it is projected that there will be high density residential and employment uses, accompanied by development of retail and entertainment establishments within a 5-minute walk of the VMC subway station.

The region will contain a range of employment types, including government offices, corporate and commercial offices, including retail services and businesses of all sizes, which will provide the necessary business services to accommodate the large influx of new residents. Also, government offices for Federal, Provincial, Regional, and Municipal services will be encouraged to locate to the VMC.

Top employers such as KPMG, PwC, Miller Thomson, and Harley Davidson Canada are just a few examples of corporations establishing themselves in the downtown area of the VMC to be in close proximity to clients and a growing workforce.

Residential and Employment
Source: City of Vaughan

These big company names bring credibility to the VMC and most importantly reduces the time employees spend commuting to work, which allows them to expand their corporate brand across the region. Furthermore, to ensure housing is accompanied by employment uses, the growth plan puts emphasis on including office spaces within residential condo developments within the initial phases of intensification.

We can also see that the VMC growth plan has put an emphasis and vision for creating employment opportunities that have diverse and mixed-use facilities, which are all connected by a robust network of parks, commercial developments and open spaces that make this a truly master-planned community. Growth targets for the VMC of 12,000 residential units and 6,500 new jobs by 2031 will help achieve that vision that links residential, employment and commercial development into one holistic solution. In addition, to ensure quality standards, a detailed Secondary Plan was created for the VMC to ensure excellence in public infrastructure design, which includes tall and mid-rise building guidelines and a design review panel to provide guidance on overall development applications.

Health and Fitness

While development of residential and employment office spaces is important, the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre also recognizes the importance for any master-planned community to incorporate the growing need for health and fitness spaces. The development of the PwC-YMCA tower by SmartCentres is a mixed-use building that will have a large fitness area, pool, gym, conditioning room, youth zone, and fitness studios with a range of classes.

The building will also be home to a new Vaughan Public Library branch, performing arts studios, and a community kitchen. In addition, the creation of Canada’s first smart hospital, Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital, which is just north of the VMC, will feature fully integrated “smart” technology systems and medical devices. The hospital is currently under construction and is expected to open towards the end of 2020.

The VMC growth plan has dedicated development for green and outdoor urban spaces
Source: City of Vaughan

Green Space

The VMC growth plan has dedicated development for green and outdoor urban spaces in projects such as Transit Square and Central Park, which are hubs for outdoor events and festivals that provide a community gathering place year round.

Coupled with this will be the development of an 18-acre Edgeley Pond and Park, located in the centre of the downtown and represents the largest city owned land in the VMC.

This will provide natural landscapes and trails that add a lot of elegance to the area’s green space, along with the plan for bicycle trails and pedestrian walkways that put residents within a short bike ride or walk to the VMC’s mass transit system.

Transportation

Vaughan remains the only municipality outside of Toronto to be connected by subway service at the VMC station. With over 20,000 commuters passing through the VMC Mobility Hub on a daily basis, subway riders are connected to Toronto’s Union Station in just 45 minutes and a short drive to Toronto’s Pearson Airport takes only 15 minutes, providing residents and investors easy access to clients and the GTA’s large talent pool.

In addition, the development of the SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal, a new regional transit interchange connected to the adjoining subway station and VIVA express bus routes via an underground tunnel, provides the VMC with a major transportation hub to accommodate the growing demand and influx of residents expected to meet growth plan targets.

VMC station
Source: City of Vaughan

Universities and Colleges

The existence of a university, college or other institution for higher learning is essential for any urban centre to truly become a master-planned community and provides the necessary elements to sustain a true downtown core.

While the VMC provides access to York University within less than 10 minutes, the reality is that having the ability to access an institution for higher learning within walking distance provides the needed support for residents within that community. The good news is that only steps away from the VMC subway station is Niagara University - the first university in Vaughan and York region. Niagara University, located in the VMC’s Expo City complex, will give the VMC downtown a competitive edge and provide economic benefits to residents and investors alike.

What VMC Means for Investors

Investors from across the world are choosing to invest in the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre because it is one of the fastest growing urban centres in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, which will see population and job growth of 850% by 2031, according to growth targets established for the region. Major corporations are opening offices in the VMC because they understand where the growth and demand will be in the decades to come.

Traditionally, most major corporations only established themselves within downtown Toronto, which understandably was the major economic hub and business centre of not only Ontario, but Canada as well. But, the Province’s current focus on development within the Greater Golden Horseshoe has put the spotlight on urban centres like the VMC. Growth targets established for the VMC provide quite a convincing argument for corporations as to why they should consider opening new locations within this urban centre.

In addition, the large demand for residential condo developments in the VMC provides investors with an opportunity to invest in an urban centre that has strong demand and growth expected for decades to come.

What VMC Means for Investors
Source: City of Vaughan

The VMC is on track to meet or exceed its target of 12,000 residential units, 1.5 million square feet of office space, and 750,000 square feet of new retail space by 2031. It won’t be long before this urban centre is considered one of the most progressive employment centres in the GTA.

Investors will be pleased to know that the VMC has already reached approximately 122% of their 2031 residential development targets, showcasing just how in demand this neighbourhood is and will continue to become. There are currently 23 new condo developments in Vaughan. The existence of current luxurious condominium developments from Transit-City, the Met, and Expo-City are just a few examples of the types of residential developments investors can expect to see for this master-planned community. The VMC will also be home to a notable residential condo development called CG Tower, which is a 554-unit, 60-storey architectural landmark that will become the tallest building in Vaughan with an expected completion date of September 2021.

It is also important to highlight that residential condominium prices in Vaughan are increasing at a rapid rate. For example, the 10 year average condo price appreciation rate is 11.3%, while the condo apartment vacancy rate is 0.9%. Also, average condo rental rates in Vaughan are approximately $2,200 with an average rental appreciation rate of 5.4% over the past 10 years.

2031 residential development targets
Source: City of Vaughan

Furthermore, investors should be interested in this growth centre because Vaughan is already known as the city with the largest theme park in Canada (Canada’s Wonderland), which is a major attraction that will only solidify investor sentiment around why the VMC is top of mind for anyone seriously interested in growing their investment condo portfolio. In addition, malls like Vaughan Mills, a designated tourist site open most statutory holidays, along with Vaughan’s cultural sites such as the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, renowned Kleinburg Village, and the Kortright Centre for Conservation, make this urban centre hard to ignore.

The VMC will continue to grow and evolve well beyond its 2031 growth targets and should definitely be top of mind for any investor interested in becoming a part of a growing community that is both innovative and inspirational. This area will become an economic hub of prosperity and quality of life for generations to come.

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