What we're working on
4 EMERGING IDEAS:
We have been working with local communities and other stakeholders to generate a shared vision and framework for 520 acres at Downsview. This process has led to some early thinking that will inform the future of the project, with Downsview Park remaining at the heart of the community.
Parks & Nature
CONNECTING THROUGH CITY NATURE
What if we leverage both Downsview Park and the runway to create a City Nature network that could help all the things that live here thrive— the plants, animals, birds, insects, and people?
Introducing City Nature
We propose that Downsview’s new communities include open spaces in parks, natural areas, along streets and even on buildings, combining nature with urban areas in a concept we call City Nature. This integrated approach supports biodiversity, manages stormwater using natural systems, and offers a range of outdoor experiences for those who live, work and play in and around Downsview. It will also provide space for people to walk and cycle, as we’re prioritizing people and not only cars.
"If there was one thing about my neighbourhood that I love, it is green space and parks."
In Round One of the consultation process people told us that they love Downsview Park, and also that they need more access to green space where wildlife can thrive, food can be grown, and people can be both active and relaxed. Based on this feedback, we’re exploring the idea of City Nature as we rethink these 520 acres of land.
Our vision for the future includes a rich network of parks & green spaces driven by these eight aspirations:
15 min neighbourhoods, where people live, work, shop, learn, and play within a 15-min walk or bike ride
Social Infrastructure, providing places for people to connect, share, and enjoy each other and nature
Stormwater balance that increases the amount of water absorbed by the ground (rather than piped off-site), improves water quality, and reduces erosion
Health benefits associated with fresh air, time in nature, views to green space, recreation, and other outdoor activities
Biodiversity, by creating habitat that supports a wide range of native plants, insects, birds, and other wildlife
Micromobility routes that make it easy to move around Downsview without a car
Microclimate regulation, to best manage the effects of sun, rain, wind, and snow, and improve year round comfort both indoors and outdoors.
Liveability, supported by the built and natural environments, economic prosperity, social stability, equity, education, culture, connection to our history and cultural heritage, and recreation possibilities
A place to welcome all uses and users
Here are a few examples of the wide range of uses and users that could be part of Downsview’s future parks and green spaces. What would you like to see?
Getting Around &
Across the Site
MOVING TOWARDS BETTER CONNECTIONS
What if Downsview had a more connected future—one that makes it easy for people walking, cycling, taking local transit, and driving to get around and across the site?
During Round One of the id8 consultation process, we heard Downview defined, in part, by its lack of connections. People told us that it takes a long time to get places, routes are not direct, and they’re not safe enough. We heard that Downsview’s neighbourhoods are car-centric and that the rail corridor and runway are major barriers. People want direct, safe connections that work better for walking and cycling. In response to this feedback and public policy priorities—and because the runway will not be a barrier in the future—we’re exploring ideas to improve connectivity locally and to broader city transportation networks, and looking at the possibility of major new north-south and east-west connections across the site.
"Find ways to allow more connections over or under the railway."
These ideas are guiding our approach to mobility:
1. Enable 15-minute Communities
that provide a mix of land uses and amenities that make it possible for people to carry out most everyday trips locally within the Downsview area by foot, bicycle, or transit. We know a certain amount of density is needed to make this work, especially close to transit.
2. Create a 'Complete' Mobility Network
with a network of streets, paths, and connections that are attractive, safe and efficient for moving around using many different modes.
3. Improve Access to Existing Transit
by creating direct connections between the existing TTC subway and GO train stations and existing and future neighbourhoods and local destinations. Improving access is not only about the actual streets and paths, but also the experiences that we have along them created by the dynamic land use mix envisioned as part of a 15-minute community.
4. Connect to the Whole Region
through opportunities to reconnect Downsview to the broader Toronto street grid in support of efficient city and region-wide travel by transit, car, and other modes.
We’re also thinking about how to coordinate a multi-modal network that supports all forms of travel around and across the site. This includes: a connected transit network, with new transit service and first- and last-mile solutions; a complete street network, with fine-grained streets and blocks; and a comprehensive active mobility network for pedestrians and other modes.
Connecting to the Existing Active Mobility System
We see an important opportunity to connect this area to existing and planned trails, bike lanes, and pedestrian pathways in the surrounding area as part of the complete, multi-modal mobility network. How do you think we should connect to this existing system? Tell us in this survey.
A Closer Look at Walking & Cycling
New streets—designed for people—will be the backbone of the complete mobility network and critical parts of our shared public spaces. The pictures here inspire us when we think about how the new streets could look and feel on these 520 acres of Downsview. What do you think?
Jobs & Employment
What if Downsview’s future addresses economic challenges created by COVID-19, responds to the needs of industry, helps keep Toronto competitive, and at the same time also supports local main streets with diverse, locally-owned businesses?
In Round One of the consultation process, we heard that employment needs to be a big part of Downsview’s future. Among other things, participants stressed the need to provide well-paying jobs, support diverse businesses and working spaces, build on the evolving aerospace industry, and create meaningful work, including opportunities for youth. We were also told that vibrant, mixed use streets as well as cultural attractions and institutional uses could attract activity in the future. We hear you, Downsview!
"I'd like to see smaller retail spaces, with many reserved for independent businesses."
When it comes to employment, we’re thinking about:
Attracting top talent: How to create a place that attracts top talent by creating attractive and livable communities where employees (and employers) want to live and work
Remote working: How the nature of employment space continues to evolve, particularly in light of the major changes resulting from COVID-19, with more people working remotely
Harnessing innovation: How to harness the innovative past and present of industries and institutions on the site
Recognizing heritage: How best to take advantage of some of the existing buildings on the site, creating a home for new business while recognizing the site's industrial heritage
Complete communities: How employment complements 15-min neighbourhoods and complete communities
Residential-compatibility: How to attract jobs, employers, and sectors that are compatible with residential neighbourhoods—both existing and future
Strong local workforce: How to support the creation of meaningful and valuable jobs that support the development of a strong local workforce
We’re targeting a wide range of jobs, employers and sectors in two main ways:
Building on the legacy and the contemporary examples of innovative industries
Making room for industries and businesses that need more space
Integrating offices uses into communities, especially near transit
Delivering vibrant urban places, services, and amenities to attract employees and employers
Integrating services into neighbourhoods
People & Neighbourhoods
CONNECTING PEOPLE TOGETHER
What if Downsview was planned as a collection of 15-minute neighbourhoods: vibrant, complete, walkable communities with a mix of housing, land uses, community spaces, and employment?
In Round One of the consultation process, participants spoke passionately about their connection to—and aspirations for—Downsview. Among many things, people asked for a full range of housing options, more community facilities and services, recognition of the area’s history and challenges related to equity and inclusion, architectural diversity, and a holistic approach to the site. We want to use the emerging Framework Plan to address these issues and connect the people of Downsview together.
"One of the things I've always felt Toronto lacks is great public spaces where people can meet & connect."
The 15-Minute Neighbourhood
Our vision for the future includes 15-minute neighbourhoods: compact, multi-generational, diverse areas that provide most daily needs within a 15-minute walk or bike ride. Bringing all life’s essentials closer to each neighbourhood encourages social networks and face-to-face interactions, which can help support stronger communities. The graphic below shows some “daily life circle” destinations of older adults, people in their working life, and children and youth. Where would you want to go in your 15-minute neighbourhood?
What could a 15-minute neighbourhood concept look like in Downsview and how might it contribute to adjacent neighbourhoods? The map below shows some of the many communities, green spaces, and road networks that surround the site. The hearts show our ideas on where we could anchor new “centres” of the 15-minute neighbourhood. What do you think of this approach? Tell us below.
The id8 Downsview team is continuing to reimagine the future of 520 acres of land owned by Northcrest Developments and Canada Lands Company. We’re working together with the local community and stakeholders to generate a vision and framework for future development of the site. It will take many decades for the Downsview redevelopment process to unfold and creating a Framework Plan is one important step.
Round One of our consultation occurred in Spring 2020. During that round, we heard from over 550 people and over 60 organizations who told us what they like about the area, some of the challenges they face, and the many, many opportunities they’d like to see considered for the future. You can read more about what we heard on our Round One Feedback page.
Identifying Shared Priorities
In addition to community and stakeholder priorities, the future Framework Plan for Downsview will be informed by the priorities of Northcrest and Canada Lands as landowners, and public policy priorities of the City and Province. This includes fourteen Draft Principles that Toronto’s City Council adopted in late June 2020 to guide the future of these lands.
When we compared the priorities of the community and stakeholders with those of the City and Province, and our own, we were encouraged by how much they overlap. Our design team has been reviewing these priorities and analyzing the site in detail, and is starting to look at ideas related to:
• Parks & Nature
• Getting Around & Across the Site
• Jobs & Employment
• People & Neighbourhoods
Round One feedback identified other priorities not included in the above themes. There are also City priorities that aren’t yet reflected in the ideas shared here. Rest assured, our team is thinking about affordable housing, equity and inclusion, growing the existing economy of locally-owned diverse businesses, built-in sustainability, community services and facilities, and other policies. We are committed to pushing boundaries, being innovative, and considering the area holistically for the long haul.
We’ll be sharing and seeking feedback on policy ideas as part of Round Three of the consultation process. At that time we’ll also be sharing maps that propose things like major roads, parks and green spaces, and districts, just like what you see in the 2011 Downsview Secondary Plan, but updated to reflect the new context for the specific area.
Round Two: Your Thoughts on These Ideas
This second round of consultation is focused on getting your thoughts on these early ideas. We will be presenting them at a Virtual Public Townhall and four subject-specific Virtual Public Workshops scheduled for September and October. You can learn more about these events and register on our Participate page.