On top of Downsview Park’s tallest mound of earth, 16 square arches are arranged in a compass-like formation. Since fall of last year, this “Wind Rose” has hosted installations that celebrate the wind, local history, stories of making home, and the Indigenous connections to this place.
But what will these arches host next?
We’re calling students and young professionals across the GTA to propose new temporary installations on this structure. Emerging designers are welcome from all creative fields, including graphic, urban, and industrial design, architecture, engineering, landscape architecture, fine arts, and more. Applications are encouraged from creative minds of all ages and all ranges of experience.
Teams will be guided by a mentor and given some support to identify materials and refine budgets by the XOXO team. Proposals will be blind judged by a panel of local and city-wide experts.
Three proposals will be selected and installed, each for 10 weeks of public display, with the support of the XOXO Downsview installation team, and funded by local landowners, Canada Lands Company and Northcrest Developments.
The budget for each successful installation is $6,000 (including all taxes). This will cover any and all expenses and fees for the installation works, including material, production, transportation, etc. Each winning team will also receive an honorarium of $2,000.
Deadline for team registration
Additional competition details emailed to teams
On-site orientation and Q&A (2-3:30pm)
Q&A notes posted online
Final digital submissions for jury consideration
due before 11:59pm, including:
Statement of design intent (100 words maximum)
Details of materials and construction and technical specifications (200 words maximum)
Budget, including breakdown of material and replacement costs if needed, to an upper limit of $6000, including all fees related to installation
Up to five renderings, drawings, photos of maquettes, or short videos (of no more than 30 seconds each) showing the proposal
N.B.: More detailed requirements and tech specs will be forwarded to registered teams by email on October 4th.
And if the suggested modes of application do not meet your access needs, feel free to email email@example.com and we will be happy to work with you to create alternate ways to share your idea with us.
Announcement of three winning teams
Installation of first winning design
Installation of second winning design
Installation of the third winning design
1. What is the significance of the Official Plan Amendment application?In 2018, Bombardier announced it would close its manufacturing and runway operations at the Downsview Airport Lands in 2023, presenting a unique opportunity to redevelop the area. Since then, Northcrest Developments and Canada Lands Company have worked closely with the community and stakeholders from across the city to plan for the future of the Downsview Lands through id8Downsview. In April 2021, the Downsview Airport Lands were re-designated as General Employment Areas and Regeneration Areas from Core Employment Areas. A Regeneration Area designation triggers a review of Official Plan policies. Our Official Plan Amendment application is the first step in this review process. It provides an overview of our proposed vision for the Downsview Lands and is informed by three rounds of engagement with the community and stakeholders representing more than 3,000 individuals and 150 groups. We submitted our Official Plan Amendment application to the City of Toronto on September 27, 2021. The City will conduct a technical review of the application and seek feedback on our plan from approval agencies and the public. Concurrently, the City will also conduct a review of the 2011 Downsview Secondary Plan, triggered by the re-designation and will determine what amendments are required to that plan. Eventually, these policy documents will be brought before City Council for approval. The Official Plan Amendment application is publicly available on both the City and id8Downsview websites.
2. What is your vision for this development at Downsview?We want to create truly complete neighbourhoods. From what we have heard and what we know, a complete community is one that includes robust employment opportunities that draws new businesses and well-paying jobs to the area today and tomorrow. It’s one that adds shops, schools, and other community amenities. One that introduces new homes and affordable housing. It will foster sustainability and brings city and nature together. Downsview Park will be the heart of this new community. It will stay and will be enhanced and improved by new connections and increased accessibility. It is not being developed. Importantly, we have taken the time to listen, by involving those who live nearby in a robust engagement process and consulting broadly across the entire city. We will work step-by-step through the process with city planners and other government agencies.
3. What will change? How will it be different in the future?Changes are coming to Downsview already. The airport is set to close by the end of 2023, in keeping with Bombardier’s decision to depart the Downsview site. Attracting new jobs and new investment to the area is a high priority. This commitment has started to take shape through the recent announcement of plans to build a new state-of-the-art film and television production facility, attracting an investment of approximately $200 million, and bringing thousands of high-quality jobs to this site. The closure of the airport also provides an opportunity to reconnect these lands with the community. A new network of roads, pedestrian and bike connections will now be possible. It is a vision that will unfold over decades. One that brings ten new, integrated neighbourhoods with well-paying jobs, new business opportunities, a mix of housing options, including affordable housing, and community facilities and services. This vision won’t be realized overnight, nor should it be. We’ll continue to involve those who live nearby, consult broadly across the City, while working with the City and other agencies.
4. Who is in charge of this development of the Downsview site?The lands are owned by two companies: Northcrest Developments and Canada Lands Company. Northcrest Developments is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP Investments), and Canada Lands Company is a federal Crown Corporation with expertise in real estate development and attractions management, that is responsible for management of Downsview Park. They each own portions of the lands, and are working together to plan for it.
5. How will development of the Downsview site make life better for the local community – and for the city?There is an enormous opportunity to create something that supports the local community and the City as a whole. The opportunity exists to create new employment opportunities; to establish workforce and economic development opportunities for people in the area, to bring community and social infrastructure, such as community centres, schools, childcare facilities, libraries and arts and culture, all in close proximity to where people live and work. A variety of new homes for all stages of life including affordable housing are an important part of the plan. We are committed to working with the City to ensure the needs of the existing and future community are met on these fronts. The plans have sustainability principles at their core and we will weave these principles across all areas of the development process to ensure long-term resilience and sustainability. City and nature will be brought together through 100 acres of new, connected parks and open spaces, with Downsview Park at the heart. We are aware that creating better connections through the site is important to many people in the existing surrounding neighbourhoods.
6. How long will the development of the Downsview site take?We have just started the planning process for the redevelopment of the Downsview Lands, but the full development and build-out is one that will take decades to complete. Right away, we are working hard to explore new opportunities to draw new employers to the site in order to bring good, well-paying jobs to Downsview. The early focus will be on three mixed-use neighbourhoods, anchored by Downsview Park and the former runway. These first neighbourhoods will leverage existing uses and assets to inspire a sense of place bring forward a variety of uses and amenities. The site will be developed in stages one District at a time and will host temporary uses; programs that seed neighbourhood character and animate the site. But it’s important to recognize that neighbourhoods like the ones surrounding the site today took decades to evolve and are still evolving. That will be the case here too.
7. Is this a done deal? Is there any real chance for local residents, and others, to affect the development plans?"Planning and development of the lands is a long-term undertaking with multiple phases of approval and therefore there are many avenues and opportunities for engagement and input along the way. We have completed a 16-month engagement process with the public and have recently submitted an Official Plan Amendment application to the City of Toronto for their consideration. The application has been put together with critical input from the public who have provided valuable local insights, information and recommendations. You can see all of the work that has been completed to date, including summaries of the engagement activities to date. Beyond this, we will continue to provide opportunities for people and organizations to further help shape our plans and specific proposals. There will also be opportunities to provide feedback as part of the City’s own review process. To find out more about how to engage in the project, visit our Participate page.
8. What happens to Downsview Park?Downsview Park is not going anywhere. We see it as the heart of the Downsview Lands. There will be new and exciting opportunities to strengthen the connections between existing communities and the Park. While minor works may be required over the course of development, such as road construction, the size of the Park will not change. Canada Lands continues to invest in the Park. Recent investments include; relocating the urban farm to the permanent agriculture campus at the south end of the park; Dogsview Park, an off-leash park for canine companions, recently opened; and the Festival Terrace received significant upgrades.
9. What happens to the businesses and groups currently on the site?Bombardier has announced its departure from Downsview by the end of 2023, which means that operations at the facilities and the runway will close. However, we will draw new employers to the site, beginning with the recently-announced film studio. Additionally, Canada Lands recently worked with Centennial College to bring their Aerospace Technology program the Downsview Lands, and are continuing to support efforts to grow the Downsview Aerospace Innovation & Research Hub as well as other employment uses. In the future, a substantial portion of the site will support employment purposes, with a minimum 12 million square feet of non-residential space being built over time creating thousands of jobs. We are committed to attracting a range of local, well-paying jobs.
10. Will we end up with another big grouping of condo towers?The new communities at Downsview will be unlike anything that currently exists in Toronto. We are taking inspiration from developments all over the world to make sure we plan these lands wisely for the future. Our vision is for a complete and resilient community – with jobs, homes, amenities. What that community looks like will evolve and be shaped over time as we move through the various stages of planning and as we hear from the communities and the City. Growth will be directed around transit connected areas, and we expect density around the transit stations in line with the City and Province’s plans, and more midrise density across the remainder of the site. The site will be planned to allow people to live in a way that reduces the need to travel by car, with a focus on transit, walking, cycling and complete communities.
11. Will there be affordable housing in this new community?Yes, this area will include affordable housing. Our vision is that affordable housing will be part of every residential area we plan. Planning for a broad range of affordability is part of our vision to build complete communities.
12. Won’t development mean that the whole area will be paralyzed with construction and building for decades?The site is so large, the whole area will not be under construction at any one time. Development will occur in manageable and tangible phases. We are listening closely to those who live nearby to understand the current context and to inform our future plans, including our construction plans. We will work with the City, public agencies and our construction management teams to ensure that the community can continue to function, to provide travel routes, and to mitigate construction impacts as much as possible. This project will unfold in phases over decades, not just years. There will be opportunities for interim projects, interventions and connections that can be introduced across the life span of the development of the lands. These will allow for the area to be opened up sooner and ensure the lands won’t continue to be an island, cut off from the surrounding community as they have been.
13. How are you thinking about other projects currently being planned in the surrounding neighbourhoods, like Canada Lands’s planning for the William Baker District?"The Secondary Plan considers how the new neighbourhoods will relate to the existing surrounding neighbourhoods. Our plan accounts for- and aligns with the proposed plans for the William Baker neighbourhood and CreateTO’s Allen East District. The Stanley Greene neighbourhood is very nearly complete and almost entirely occupied. Our plan includes connections to it.
14. What guarantees are there that all these promises made now won’t be broken down the road?We’re committed to doing the hard work to realize the vision and ensure it meets not only the priorities of the City and Council, but of local residents and others in the area. Already we’ve completed three rounds of consultation and outreach. We’ll continue to involve those who live nearby, consult broadly across the entire City and work step-by-step through the process with city planners and other public agencies. The reality is that a project of this scope must receive multiple approvals along the way, over the long-term. You can be sure that City Council and others will make certain to hold us to our obligations – as they should.
15. How long before we start to see changes or construction?We are in the early stages. It will be several years before construction of the new neighbourhoods will begin. Bombardier must decommission the site before any significant development can begin. While neighbourhood construction is still a ways out, the recently announced film and production studio will begin construction in the coming years, pending approval. We are also excited about the near-term and interim use opportunities of the site. We recently launched XOXO Downsview, a Northcrest and Canada Lands sponsored art exhibition part of ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2021-2022. XOXO Downsview is a celebration of public art, culture, and local heritage through dynamic installations, murals and multimedia works. It aims to highlight local artists, promote inclusivity and togetherness, and recognize the history and potential of Downsview as a destination and generator of cultural works. It is an example of what the community can expect to see in terms of arts and culture at the site. We are also bringing arts and culture installations to the site in the interim, so stay tuned!
16. Will COVID put all these plans and timing at risk?The pandemic is affecting some of our work. We have had to shift our consultations online to avoid in-person contact. That said, our work to prepare a long-term vision for the site is not impacted at this time. The pandemic has reinforced the importance of access to open space. Our proposed plan includes 100 acres of new parks and open space, representing 50% of the site.
17. How did the pandemic affect your planning process?Like everyone, we were forced to rethink our processes - team work, engagement, and collaboration took on a new form. Our public engagement has included mail drops, phone lines and in-person pop-up tents when possible, and a robust website and social media outreach, with new approaches to online group meetings, and more smaller and focused meetings to make sure we reach everyone. In fact, we have found the digital engagement enables a broader demographic of people to participate, such as families with young kids who often find public meetings difficult to attend. The tools and approaches we have leveraged during the pandemic have become part of our regular took kit, even when we can get back to ‘normal’ in-person meetings, because they are effective and help reach more people.
18. Will Downsview’s owners commit to signing a community benefits agreement?We want to continue working with local groups, including the Toronto Community Benefits Network, to understand community priorities and ensure they are reflected in our plans. To us, community benefits include improving economic opportunities, workforce development, support for social enterprise, community sustainability and more. You will see these themes throughout our plans. We will commit to various projects as part of a broader community benefits framework and plan that will take form as our work advances. We are hard at work on these plans now. This framework will provide clear and transparent outline of specific benefits we’re undertaking, when and how. The feedback we have received to date will play an important role in informing the framework.
19. A community center has been long promised for the area. Is that something we can expect for the Downsview Lands?We are committed to assisting the City to accelerate construction of a new community centre for Downsview. Community centres are significant infrastructure projects that require collaboration with multi-levels of government. We’re working with the City Councillor, MPPs and MPs – as well as local groups and stakeholders – to see how we can help to ensure that a community centre is not only built but that it’s built sooner rather than later. We also know that additional community facilities will be needed as the site is built out and we will work with the city and other agencies to identify and support these amenities over time.
20. What are the next steps now that you have submitted an application to the City?The City of Toronto will now consider our application to amend the City’s Official Plan through its regulatory process. The community will have opportunities to participate in that process as our application moves along. To view the application, click here.
21. How tall will the buildings be?We are planning for a comfortable scale with majority mid-rise residential buildings and taller buildings around existing transit stations.
22. How many people will be coming into the area? Will the character of my neighbourhood be completely overwhelmed?Toronto was the fastest growing city in North American before the pandemic and all expectations are it will continue when life returns to normal. With 520 acres of mostly vacant land close to three transit stops, a GO station, major highways and one of the largest park’s in Toronto, Downsview Park, , this area is poised for significant growth. Growth will ultimately benefit people and businesses locally, and the City as a whole. What we are proposing, following conversations with thousands of local residents and business owners, elected officials and city planners, is responsible and manageable, with growth expected to occur in multiple phases, incrementally over several decades. To accommodate the growth, new streets and four new rail crossings; a range of community amenities; 40 hectares (100 acres) of new parks and open spaces (linked to existing Downsview Park); infrastructure supporting new homes of various types, ownership structures, and levels of affordability; and over 1.1 million square metres (12 million square feet) of office and employment space. The proposed Framework Plan identifies 10 distinct districts where more detailed planning (District Plans, Zoning By-laws, Plans of Subdivision, etc.) will occur at later stages over a long time.
23. What about traffic from all this new development and everything else going on in the area?We know that getting around and through this part of the city can be challenging. That’s due in large part to the fact that this area doesn’t have as many street connections as other parts of the city. This area grew around an active airfield. Our plans for the site include reconnecting the City’s street network, including two new opportunities to cross the rail line and connect from Allen Road to Keele Street. We also know that in order to plan sustainably for the future we have to create communities where using a car is not the only option. That’s why we need to have a critical mass of residents and jobs to support a wide range of neighbourhood amenities, so that getting a coffee, going to school or work, even trips to the grocery store may not need a car. Our plans show great streets for walking and biking and new transit routes; jobs and shops and other commercial opportunities will be located throughout so daily needs can be met close by and concentrating people and jobs near transit stations so that when there is a need to travel farther away, transit is the most attractive option.
Frequently Asked Questions
This competition is an XOXO Downsview project funded by Canada Lands and Northcrest Developments — landowners who are engaging in the redevelopment of about 520 acres of land adjacent to Downsview Park, including the Downsview airfield.
XOXO Downsview is a celebration of public art, culture, and local heritage launched in 2021 in coordination with Toronto's Year of Public Art. It involves dynamic installations, murals, multimedia works, and an audio walking tour on the Downsview Lands and in Downsview Park. The projects aim to bring people together while highlighting local artists and the history and potential of Downsview as a destination and generator of cultural works. In Downsview, there’s a lot to love! Learn more at id8downsview.ca/xoxo
THE DOWNSVIEW REDEVELOPMENT
Next to Downsview Park, lands are being reimagined as complete communities in collaboration with locals, Indigenous rights holders, and the City of Toronto. Arts and culture will be a big part of the future of this place, both in the final neighbourhoods and while planning is underway. Landowners Northcrest and Canada Lands are committed to amplifying the rich local arts scene and exploring how equity and diversity will guide opportunities here over decades to come. You can learn more about the redevelopment at id8downsview.ca
THE DOWNSVIEW WIND ROSE
On top of Downsview Park’s largest mound is the Downsview Wind Rose, created by Future Simple Studio. The structure’s circle of 16 square arches resembles a huge wind rose. A wind rose is a time-honoured tool invented by meteorologists that maps the direction, speed, and frequency of the wind in a specific location. The wind rose for Downsview is specific to the Downsview airport (YZD) and shows the local area’s prevailing northwest winds. Learn more at id8downsview.ca/xoxo-windrose
These arches host a range of installations. The first featured bright blue flags and a couple designed by Chris and Greg Mitchell, Mi'kmaq artists who lead the design studio Born in the North. The work, called “The Turtle and the Traveller,” was based on the history of these lands as an important route for trade and travel. Positioned at the installation’s northwest, one was white, representing north on the medicine wheel, and one black, representing the west.
In August 2022, “Fabric of Community” was installed on the mound. Led by Paola Gomez in partnership with North York Arts, this installation uses fibres and fabrics to share stories of journeys, arrivals, and legacy. It embraces and amplifies the stories and experiences of community members who have migratory experience and settled in North York. The project has two components: crocheted mandalas created by Latina women living in North York and hundreds of colourful ribbons drawn and written on by locals tied to the fence beside the wind rose.
Panels highlighting Downsview stories also feature on the Wind Rose and show the diverse history of this place. Explore Downsview Stories at id8downsview.ca/stories
Participants will be encouraged to visit the site, and get to know XOXO Downsview, id8 Downsview, and this area of North West Toronto. Proposals will be judged in part following the Guiding Principles outlined in the XOXO Workplan found here. Check it out!
Questions about this competition can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put “Wind Rose Competition” in the subject line.