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Proposed Markville Development gets a rough ride at public consultations

There’s nothing like a large development plan to get people riled up. So it was this week as Markham council chambers were packed to overflowing with concerned citizens voicing their opposition to a proposed development that would see Markville Mall become the centre of a new planned community with 4340 condo units.

The plan, first submitted to the City of Markham in July of this year, reflects a broader trend of larger suburban malls seeking to make the most of their property investments in the shadow of shrinking retail revenues. It was presented to the public for the first time this week at council by the urban planning team enlisted by property owner Cadillac Fairview (CF) in the first of a number of public consultations on the proposal that seeks to completely transform the almost 70 acre site to include up to 14 condominium towers from 6 to 45 stories, eventually becoming home to almost 9000 residents.

If that seems like a tight fit to you, you are not alone.

Rendering of proposed Markville Mall property redevelopment

Dozens of disputants came to voice concerns ranging from adding traffic to already very crowded corridors around McCowan and Highway 7. The absence of new schools, parking, lack of public transit integration, impacts on neighbouring communities and how it will fit into the city’s secondary plan, were among the concerns raised.  However, if residents were hoping to find answers to their concerns, they were disappointed with the aspirational presentation.

Pressed for details of the expected impact of perhaps an extra 4000+ cars (one for each new unit) on the roads, often at a standstill thanks to the current volume and the frequent trains crossing McCowan CF promised to look at that in the future. Presumably, that would also include a look at how a smaller, tighter 2-lane “ring road” within the property could possibly handle the increased traffic flow when the current road and entryways to the mall are packed now. Similarly, a promise to work with school boards to discuss if a school would be needed in the plan was promised later. A study on parking was also promised in future, with CF only saying they wanted to move most of the current 5160 parking spaces from surface-level spaces, which are often full, to covered and underground spaces, without confirming if they would be adding enough spaces for new residents.

A conversation with a number of attendees made it clear that the first public consultation left them less assured about the feasibility of the plan than when they went in, noting that clearly, Cadillac Fairview had thought plenty about how to maximise investment in the property, but little about anything else beforehand putting the proverbial ‘cart before the horse’. Having heard the presentation and read the proposal, it’s hard to disagree with the conclusion.

Not all of the plan was seen as unworkable to the assembled, with a number pointing out that some beautification and even densification might be a plus with some green and public space being added and a better streetscape welcomed as the current property is not a beauty to look at from any angle. It’s hard to disagree with that notion either.

Although the province has mandated municipalities to build ‘more homes faster’ and municipalities have agreed more homes are needed, even largely pro-development councillors seemed wary of the plan with Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti cautioning that this was only a consultation and that council was hear to listen and no decisions on the project would be made immediately.

It would seem that given the lack of foresight in the first draft of the proposed development that nothing will be finalized for quite a while.

Stay tuned for consultations, part two.

One thought on “Proposed Markville Development gets a rough ride at public consultations

  • Well said. Couple of points to add :
    It does not appear to be Master Plan but capitalist vision of how to maximize profit for private developer for example bunch of loosely located high-rise tower without consideration for Human scale, Streetscape, and communities’ amenities. Unfortunately, Our Political leadership, both at province and Municipal level, became blinded that they are in race to accept a collection of private benefits with public nuisances. Funny thing is Municipal council playing role of victim as if they can not do anything since they have no power, and it is fault of province. Fearing tactics reminding residents about OLT or Provincial MZO sighted as examples why Municipality can not do anything. If that’s case Who has ownership for Secondary Plan? Is it province or Municipality? The Secondary Plan has many flaws and whenever residents’ questions practical issues such as lack of School, Roads, Park, amenities etc. It immediately differed to province or York Region.
    Markville CF Master Plan is poor design master plan as a result of thought less secondary Plan which do not address fundamental of Land use-Transportation Principles; high densities are offered without basic infrastructure and Public amenities. These Plans fails to address high-quality urban design principal. There is no consideration for healthy environment; roughly 8000 sq.m reserved as park for unrealistic 9000 population). I am wondering Where do children go to play? Where do senior go for walk? Where is the consideration for Human scale massing where Built form strongly engage with active Streetscape? No consideration given for future widening of road on both highway-7 and McCowan for future Transit project. Jane Jacob said “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody. Unfortunately, Our Political Leadership is grossly ignoring everybody concerns. It is high time for Markham community to unite against our Municipal and Provincial leadership to ensure that we create health living space which benefits future generations and make Markham as great cities to live and work.

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