York Urbanist


October 25th, 2011

Where? Confluence of Highways 7, 407 and 400, Vaughan

What? An asphalt chasm, that emulates the roads by which one accesses the sites, surrounds the Colossus spaceship and the non-distinct AMC architectural form.

Why? Responding to demand for theatre in the suburbs of Vaughan, Colossus and AMC emerged just before the plummeting fortunes of the movie theatre industry.  In 1999, single theatres did not satisfy the demand for options in the selection of theatre genres and 30-plexes could attract people to B-movies. This bastion of urban sprawl epitomizes Vaughan desperation to attract business at any cost. And for that the City of Vaughan gave an urban design award of distinction? Why?

How is this an Urban Place to Detest? As Vaughan becomes more sophisticated, the City will avoid the non-sustainable and unvisioned planning of the past.  These two sites are the gateway to the City and to York Region.  Pride is not evoked from the blast of light that, at night, thumbs a nose at the “Dark Skies” initiative of most of the rest of the province. The buildings set far away from the volumes of traffic on adjoining highways can be seen garishly promoting sometimes uglier films inside. The roads surrounding the sites are impassable by those on foot and nary a cycle in sight.  There is no need for bicycle parking within walking distance of the buildings.  Yet another overpass of 400 has been recently constructed north of and parallel to Highway 7.  More asphalt and concrete and less pedestrianization.

What is the future? Vaughan’s mandate is to create a civic commercial centre…with good cause.  Even the most ardent car driver avoids the district because of the complexity of travel to and from.  The economics of staying the current course are not sustainable, nor is the living.  A visit to the theatre finds areas cordoned from the potential customers.  Rethinking the district is imperative.  Mixing uses and creating liveability must be watchwords.


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