In a recent report by the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Sub-Committee, new growth targets were identified for the VMC as a result of robust demand that has outpaced the City’s expectations for population density, commercial development, and building heights.
It all started back in 2006 when the provincial government made a commitment to extend the Spadina subway line directly to Vaughan, which also officially recognized the area around the VMC as an Urban Growth Centre.
Initially, the VMC Growth Plan established a population target of 25,000 residents and 11,500 jobs for the new downtown by 2031.
However, because of a high number of development activities recently, this projection is now outdated and completely off target.
What city planning officials are now seeing is a trend in current residential development potential, both approved and proposed, representing more than 63,352 residents in 31,996 units moving into the VMC.
This new projection would see the VMC achieve a whopping 267% of residential units and 253% of population targets planned for 2031.
Despite Pandemic, the VMC is Growing Faster Than Ever
Although the pandemic has hit many municipalities both financially and economically, Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua stated that the City issued 656 building permits valued at over $128 million during the first quarter of 2020.
“As our efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of residents continue, so too does the important task of city-building. We have in no way hit the pause button on key infrastructure projects. These must continue, and they are a vital part of our post-COVID reality,” said Bevilacqua.
To address these growth changes, the City of Vaughan is working on updating guiding documents that will address recent development trends. The report highlights a number of issues and establishes goals related to growth targets, indicating that:
- Proposed population densities are increasing exponentially each year
- Diversity of building types are required in order to create a complete community
- Proposed new office spaces have increased dramatically over the past year
- VMC’s Downtown Neighbourhood Precincts must be protected
- Proposed retail spaces are lagging significantly behind other uses
- Developments should be balanced with social infrastructure that achieves a complete community; and
- A critical review of parkland provisions must take place that is based on development trends
In an effort to address these issues, City officials will be working to update the VMC targets to bring it in line with provincial and regional policy initiatives. Changes to the Secondary Plan are expected to be included under Vaughan’s Official Plan Update, which would ensure that planning changes and improvements are recognized.
Developing Balanced and Complete Communities
While growth is always exciting, the risk of growing too quickly can prevent the downtown from developing into a complete community that has a balanced social infrastructure that meets population demands.
As the average density of condo projects continues to rise with new development applications, the City will be tasked with the challenge of providing a balanced delivery of community services and social infrastructure needs to ensure the VMC is developed as a complete community.
The good news is that there are efforts underway to create a healthy balance between existing population density trends and available community services and social infrastructure.
The City is strongly committed to the goal of creating a downtown that has a high-density of mixed uses, but is also transit supportive and pedestrian-friendly.
The update to the VMC Secondary Plan will hopefully be able to address new provincial and regional policies so that they are in line with a development framework that makes sense.
Overall, the VMC appears to be paving the way to achieve its full potential under the Growth Plan.
The VMC is a growth story unlike any other in North America - it’s an urban suburb with all the characteristics of a typical city.
Investors should definitely keep this downtown location at the top of their list of investment opportunities.
Strong population and job growth in Vaughan continue to be the perfect recipes for long term price appreciation within the new condo sales market, coupled with strong future condo rental demand for decades to come.