York Urbanist

DISTINGUISHING VAUGHAN – open letter to Mayor Bevilacqua

An open letter to Vaughan’s Mayor Bevilacqua


Vaughan has proceeded with construction based on “masterplanning” of the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre. The excitement mounts to watch the south edge of the City Above Toronto … become part of Toronto. The umbilical cord is the subway, while the child is VMC.

While the VMA proceeds, and the forecourt to the City Hall in Maple emerges from planning, Kleinburg has been left on its own to become absorbed by the rampant and contagious suburbanization. Kleinburg that once had green space and walkability is being pressed into a car-dependent realm of condominium boxes. If further development goes ahead as is planned for 1-2 acre plots of Kleinburg, the quaint downtown swallowed up by suburbanization will disappear.

The VMC will become part of the Toronto complex, not a unique aspect of Vaughan, as we would wish. The way to differentiate our city is to retain and enhance the gems of your community, creating centres of excellence as happened in Tokyo with their seven downtown entities or distinctive neighbourhoods of Vancouver.

A planning focus needs to be turned to the special elements of Vaughan, one of which is Kleinburg. Your development planning department is allowing… no, encouraging, bylaw-trashing masonry boxes, that are riddled with terms like ‘architectural enhancements’ and ‘quality materials’. And we will get just that – boxes with pretty ornamentation; not places for people.IMG_00003295

Residents approached your Planning Director, John Mackenzie, in June 2015 with a request to Master Plan the Kleinburg downtown. The Kleinburg and Area Ratepayers Association has received more than eight submissions for development in the past year, each of which ignore the Official Plan and Heritage Conservation District study. These official documents were implemented to address the Village character of urban development. The massing of one new development at 30 Nashville Road is so brutal in character, that it is 150% more dense than the last constructed development, has only 2/3 of the parking requirement, and effectively eliminates that which creates the Kleinburg Village character, its mature trees.

What those absentee landowners are doing is perhaps going to reduce their land value. Mature tree removal will increase the cost of heating and cooling, making operations more costly. The disregard for enhancing the village character will only detract from their saleability. Their architects, engineers and planners will be loath to use these poor examples of design in their portfolios.

The lack of connectivity and communication between stakeholders may be a bellwether for the disappearance of a unique centre of art and imagination. Council has an opportunity to ensure that their gem is not crushed by insensitivity and opportunistic land owners. Mr. Mayor you need to engage the community and connect them with the potential new members of the village. You need to direct the changers of the streets of Kleinburg to the articulated planning documentation that exists to make Kleinburg distinctive in a city that is fringing on Toronto.IMG_1081