Markham Residents voice opposition to proposed development plans

By Connor Simonds, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Discover the unfolding narrative of Central Markham, as it braces for an imminent and profound metamorphosis.

However, amidst this anticipation, local residents have voiced their discontent, expressing apprehensions about the proposed architectural overhaul comprising towering structures, upscale condominiums, and commercial expanses.

The consequential concerns of heightened traffic, infrastructure strain, and potential environmental impacts have become integral to the ongoing scrutiny of the Markham Centre Secondary Plan, which presently awaits community input.

Stay tuned as the final chapters of this transformative endeavour draw nearer, with the slated release of development concepts and reports in the third quarter of 2023.

One of those concerned residents, Tom Han, the President of SURF (South Unionville Residents Forum) spoke about the forum’s concerns which are shown below.

The residents have several issues with the various projects in the Central Markham surrounding area including the BMW project — 1772 units and a potential 41-storey skyscraper at 8111 Kennedy Road — as well as many other intensification projects.

One major concern is the deviation from the 2014 Markham official plan, which originally designated these areas for mid-rise buildings of up to eight stories.

“The developers are proposing 40+ story towers, which contradicts the established plan,” says Han.

This raises questions about the value and purpose of the 2014 official plan and the taxpayer money invested in its development.

Another concern brought forward by SURF revolves around the availability of schools. While the city claims that the York Region District School Board is responsible for providing schools, there seems to be a gap in planning.

Han mentioned, “With the growing population and limited existing schools, the addition of 40,000 residents in the Markville area would require many new elementary schools. However, the current development plan does not allocate any land for schools, potentially leading to overcrowding and logistical challenges.”

The residents argue that adequate school infrastructure should be prioritized and included in the development plans.

Lastly, the issue of parkland dedication has been raised. The Planning Act stipulates “a parkland dedication cap for medium and high-density development of 1.2 ha/1000 persons,” Han says, “It is evident that the area lacks sufficient parks to accommodate the anticipated 40,000 new residents.”

While the city can opt for cash-in-lieu payments to acquire parks in the different regions, this solution does not address the need for local parks in the immediate vicinity. Local parks are essential for enhancing residents’ quality of life and should be provided nearby.

Four local community associations – including the South Unionville Residents Forum – all representing residents who are deeply concerned about the proposed Markville Secondary Plan have gathered nearly 2,000 signatures in a petition opposing the plan’s current version.

Overall, the concerns expressed by the local resident group highlight the need for a balanced and thoughtful approach to development in Markham. They acknowledge the importance of attracting new families and fostering growth but emphasize the necessity of proper planning to ensure the well-being and satisfaction of existing residents.


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