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FAQ

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  • 1. Who are the two landowners leading this 520-acre development?
    The lands are owned by two companies: Northcrest Developments and Canada Lands Company. They each own portions of the lands and have collaborated on one shared vision: the Framework Plan. This collaboration is referred to as id8 Downsview.
  • 2. What triggered the id8downsview planning process?
    In 2018, Bombardier announced it would close its manufacturing and runway operations at the Downsview Airport Lands in 2023/2024, presenting a unique opportunity to redevelop the area. PSP Investments bought the airport lands and established Northcrest Developments. Since then, Northcrest Developments and adjacent landowner Canada Lands Company have worked closely with the community and stakeholders to plan for the future of the Downsview Lands, in a process called id8Downsview.
  • 3. How will development make life better for the local residents and city at large?
    The development presents a significant opportunity to create complete communities, positively impacting both the local area and the entire city. This comprehensive vision involves generating meaningful job opportunities, strategically locating essential social infrastructure like community centres, schools, childcare facilities, libraries, and cultural spaces near residential and employment areas. Northcrest and Canada Lands' own district plans incorporate diverse housing options, including affordable housing, catering to individuals at different life stages. Rooted in sustainability principles. The plans ensure long-term resilience by integrating 100 acres of new interconnected parks and open spaces, with Downsview Park at its centre, seamlessly blending the urban environment with nature. Our commitment to collaboration with the City of Toronto underscores our dedication to effectively address both current and future community needs. This approach aims to create complete communities that not only foster economic growth but also prioritize sustainability and the harmonious integration of city and nature. Downsview Park, as the heart of these new communities, remains untouched but will be enhanced and improved through new connections and increased accessibility. Importantly, we've actively engaged local neighbours through a robust consultation process, ensuring that their voices shape the development and align with the broader aspirations of the entire city.
  • 4. How long will it take to develop these 520-acres?
    The comprehensive development and build-out of the 520-acre site is a long-term endeavour that will span several decades. Immediate efforts are underway to attract new employers aiming to bring in high-quality, well-paying jobs to Downsview, as well as other interim activities, In the initial phases, the focus will be on developing three mixed-use neighbourhoods centred around Downsview Park, transit access, and the former runway. These neighborhoods will maximize existing uses and assets, creating a distinct sense of place with a variety of uses and amenities and new housing. The site's development will proceed in stages, with each district evolving independently, led by Northcrest on its districts, and by Canada Lands on its own districts. Temporary uses will contribute to building neighbourhood character and activating the site. It's essential to understand that the evolution of neighbourhoods, like those surrounding the site today, will take decades and is an ongoing process. Similarly, the development of this site will unfold over time, contributing to the long-term growth and transformation of the area.
  • 5. Will there be a Community Benefits Agreement?
    In collaboration with the City, we are actively shaping our plans, with a strong emphasis on community benefits. These include enhancing economic opportunities, promoting workforce development, supporting social enterprises, and fostering community sustainability, among other considerations. These key themes will be prominently integrated into our comprehensive plans. To formalize our commitment to community benefits, we will engage in various projects within a broader community benefits framework. This framework is designed to offer a clear and transparent outline of the specific benefits we are undertaking, detailing when and how they will be implemented. Importantly, ongoing feedback from the community continues to play a vital role in shaping and refining this framework, ensuring that it accurately reflects the aspirations and needs of the community we aim to serve.
  • 6. Where are you at in the planning process?
    Our Framework Plan, for our collective 520-acres of land, forms part of the City’s overall Secondary Plan for ~800 acres in Northwest Toronto. The final Secondary Plan will be before Council, in May 2024.
  • 7. What is the planning process?
    The planning process for the Downsview Airport Lands underwent a significant shift in April 2021, transitioning from Core Employment Areas to General Employment Areas and Regeneration Areas. This change triggered a comprehensive review of Official Plan policies, starting a deliberate planning journey. Our involvement in this process began with the submission of the first Official Plan Amendment application to the City of Toronto on September 27, 2021. This application served as the initial step in the review process, and presented our vision for the Downsview Lands. To formulate this vision, we engaged extensively with the community and stakeholders, involving over 3,000 individuals and 150 groups through multiple rounds of consultations. Following the submission, the City undertook a meticulous technical review of our application, seeking input from approval agencies and the public. Simultaneously, the City embarked on the Update Downsview process to review the 2011 Downsview Secondary Plan. The draft Secondary Plan received Council approval in 2023, prompting us to refine our application based on preliminary feedback. The City will submit the final Secondary Plan to Council in 2024, marking a pivotal step towards shaping the future development of the Downsview area in alignment with community needs and broader urban planning goals.
  • 8. What is a Secondary Plan?
    A Secondary Plan is a high-level plan, developed by the City of Toronto to provide the overall vision for an area. It outlines what the lands will be used for: transportation options including transit, streets and cycling routes parks; infrastructure including stormwater, sewerage, and energy; community benefits including public amenities like schools and libraries; and guidelines for what the area will look like.
  • 9. When is a Secondary Plan developed or updated?
    Secondary Plans are developed or updated when there is a change in context, or policy. Update Downsview was triggered in 2021, following the official amendment plan jointly submitted by neighbouring landowners and developers, Northcrest and Canada Lands.
  • 10 What happens once a Secondary Plan is approved?
    Once a high-level Secondary Plan is approved, the developer creates District Plans.
  • 11. What is a District Plan?
    District plans are created by the developer and these plans zoom in on specific portions of Secondary Plan Areas, giving more detailed insights into areas including local streets and services, heights and sizes of buildings, and the size and location of parks.
  • 12. Can Secondary Plans and District Plans be developed simultaneously?
    Sometimes, the City will allow a District Plan and a Secondary Plan to be developed at the same time. This is currently happening for one of the first districts being planned by Northcrest: the Hangar District. When the Downsview Airport is decommissioned in 2024, all the jobs supported by this airport and Bombardier operations will be lost. As such, the City agreed to allow for the District Plan, which covers the employment lands, to be developed in parallel with the Secondary Plan. This speeds up the replacement of jobs lost when Bombardier leaves, with new employment uses. Canada Lands Company has also begun its first District Planning process for its Downsview West district allowing for the benefits outlined in the Framework Plan to realized sooner on this key district.
  • 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.

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