The Downsview site, which is approximately 520 acres in total and includes the 2.2 km long Downsview Airport runway and a number of adjacent parcels, represents one of the largest transit-connected sites in Toronto. It is located on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit who signed Treaty 13 (1805), and has also been the historic homelands of the Huron Wendat and Haudenosaunee people. With the airport slated to close in 2023 and the subway extension complete, there’s an opportunity to revisit the land use framework for this area. Northcrest Developments, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP Investments), and Canada Lands Company are working together to create a planning framework for the future of the site. The goal of this process is to ensure that any changes will strengthen the city and nearby neighbourhoods. The adjacent 291-acre Downsview Park will be the heart of the community, and the size of the park will remain the same.
Northcrest and Canada Lands are striving to achieve a future for these lands that demonstrates how to build sustainable, resilient, vibrant, healthy, and complete communities. Because the site is so large, the project will be multi-phased and will take decades to evolve. A key part of the process will involve working closely with local residents and communities, as well as a wide range of other people and organizations with interests in the area. This work will take place through the planning and development process, which both Northcrest and Canada Lands are committed to over the long term.
In 2020, Northcrest and Canada Lands will begin the process of planning a future for the site that generates returns for their shareholders, while creating public benefits and supporting local communities and public policy priorities such as economic development, transit-oriented development, housing affordability and sustainability, and parks and community amenities. This work will take place in a public and transparent manner.
Development of the Downsview site is currently regulated by the City of Toronto’s Downsview Area Secondary Plan. The Secondary Plan was last updated in 2011, and at that time the Airport had a significant influence on what was included in that Plan, as did the major public investment in the subway extension. With the airport use ending once Bombardier exits the site, there’s an important opportunity to revisit the land use and development framework for the area.
Northcrest and Canada Lands will devote 2020 to developing an updated land use and development framework which will layout a proposed foundation on which future development of these approximately 520 acres can build.
Some of the key questions that Northcrest and Canada Lands will be working to answer in order to create that framework include (but are not limited to):
What makes the most sense for the future of the approximately 520 acres, given that in 2024 there will no longer be an airport on the site?
How can Northcrest and Canada Lands be leaders in creating employment areas supported by complete, resilient, sustainable, and liveable communities?
How can future development be phased in a way that makes sense for the people that live in and around the site, and aligns with what’s financially feasible?
These first 12 months are only the start of what will be a process of re-imagining and redeveloping an area of the city that has dramatically evolved over time and will continue to evolve in the decades to come.
Existing uses are an important part of Downsview today, and opportunities to accommodate those uses as the area transitions over time are a priority for both Northcrest and Canada Lands. Bombardier has announced it will be moving to a new facility at Pearson Airport at the end of 2023. Canada Lands has several tenants actively using the site that create a hub of activity for thousands of users. Centennial College recently opened the Centre for Aerospace and Aviation at its new campus, and there is a consortium of large aerospace companies and postsecondary institutions from the GTA that are working to develop an Aerospace Research and Innovation Hub at Downsview.
The Park is at the heart of the Downsview lands and Canada Lands is currently preparing plans to relocate the urban farm to a new permanent 10-acre agriculture campus and will build a dedicated dog park in 2020. The education programs are busier than ever, and a new volunteer program was launched last year to help offer more school and community programs.
Northcrest Developments was established in 2018 as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP Investments). PSP Investments is a federal Crown corporation which manages funds for the pension plans of the federal Public Service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canadian Armed Forces, and the Reserve Force. Northcrest is committed to delivering financial returns for its shareholder, PSP Investments, while generating public benefits.
Canada Lands Company specializes in real estate development and attractions management. Since 1995, it has enriched Canadian communities and experiences by embracing the full potential of the properties it owns and operates. Canada Lands is a leader in attractions management with its operations of the CN Tower and Downsview Park in Toronto, the Old Port of Montréal and the Montréal Science Centre. Canada Lands Company strives to enhance economic, social and environmental value for Canadians.