raptor

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The madness at VMC continues. Smartcentres submitted a new Official Plan Amendment and Rezoning applications on the North West corner of Hwy 7 and Hwy 400.

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innsertnamehere

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Wayyyy too much density here. The walking distance to the subway is too far and unpleasant having to cross the 400 on either Highway 7 with that terrible median crossing or the tiny sidewalk on Portage Parkway.

I could see this working maybe as a midrise site with a few highrises along Highway 7.. not 5,000,000+sf of density and 10,000+ people living here though.
 

raptor

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Wayyyy too much density here. The walking distance to the subway is too far and unpleasant having to cross the 400 on either Highway 7 with that terrible median crossing or the tiny sidewalk on Portage Parkway.

I could see this working maybe as a midrise site with a few highrises along Highway 7.. not 5,000,000+sf of density and 10,000+ people living here though.
Centro Square did set up a precedent right next door. No reason Goldhar should be denied similar density here.
 

WislaHD

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On the contrary, I believe having density here is fine, though it should probably be chopped by a few floors and redistributed across the site.

Highway 7 in this stretch is a fully functioning BRT, and therefore should be treated as a big-boy rapid transit line rather than some random bus route.

There is a station at Weston and Hwy-7, and it is two stops away from VMC. Phase 1 of this proposal (which is the sites furthest away from the station) is just 655m away from the BRT. Every other phase is even closer.

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655 metres is generally seen as walkable for transit, and the master-plan here makes it seem like it will be an enjoyable walk for the majority of residents rather than one through suburban misery.
 

innsertnamehere

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Have you been up in this area? The stretch of highway 7 here is essentially a freeway, it is an extremely inhospitable environment for pedestrians. The new BRT may have actually finally added a sidewalk to this stretch, but pedestrian friendly it is not.

The reality is too that most transit trips in this area are going to be on the subway, and nobody is going to pay $3.50 to take VIVA 2 stops to save the walk over the 400. They are going to walk over the highway on that terrible median pathway breathing in horrible air quality from the 14 lane highway underneath them.

The good news is that maybe the "mall" (read: failed investor immigration commercial enterprise scam) in Centro Square will finally have a significant enough population base in walking distance to get used.

Is this the worst spot in the GTA for housing? not really. Doesn't make it a great place.
 

WislaHD

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I believe there are contradictions with your claims @innsertnamehere. If the area is so inhospitable to pedestrians, then that would make it more likely for residents to take VIVA instead of walking over the 400. The majority of the blocks in this master plan are within 500m of the BRT station, whereas they are looking at a 1.85km to 2km or more walk to VMC over said extremely inhospitable environment. The standard rule in transportation planning is that people are willing to walk between 500m and 800m to transit.

Yes, Hwy-7 is essentially a freeway, but the residents in this development don't need to traverse it for long except next to the Centro Square development on their way to the VIVA station. The residents will instead be walking through that new street traversing the master plan, which looks to be intended as a pedestrian friendly and landscaped environment, and not miserable suburban conditions like Hwy-7 or Weston Road nearby.

Sounds like to me the only real issue is fare integration between VIVA and the Line 1 subway, which is an institutional problem, not a development planning problem. This development has to be considered from a planning lens, which considers BRT stations like VIVA as rapid transit in the same manner as LRT or subway stations and doesn't consider concerns such as fare integration.
 

Edward Skira

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They are going to walk over the highway on that terrible median pathway breathing in horrible air quality from the 14 lane highway underneath them.

As if living next to it will be any better?
 

innsertnamehere

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As if living next to it will be any better?
It won't be..

I believe there are contradictions with your claims @innsertnamehere. If the area is so inhospitable to pedestrians, then that would make it more likely for residents to take VIVA instead of walking over the 400. The majority of the blocks in this master plan are within 500m of the BRT station, whereas they are looking at a 1.85km to 2km or more walk to VMC over said extremely inhospitable environment. The standard rule in transportation planning is that people are willing to walk between 500m and 800m to transit.

Yes, Hwy-7 is essentially a freeway, but the residents in this development don't need to traverse it for long except next to the Centro Square development on their way to the VIVA station. The residents will instead be walking through that new street traversing the master plan, which looks to be intended as a pedestrian friendly and landscaped environment, and not miserable suburban conditions like Hwy-7 or Weston Road nearby.

Sounds like to me the only real issue is fare integration between VIVA and the Line 1 subway, which is an institutional problem, not a development planning problem. This development has to be considered from a planning lens, which considers BRT stations like VIVA as rapid transit in the same manner as LRT or subway stations and doesn't consider concerns such as fare integration.

Those aren't contradictions - they are the exact reason it shouldn't happen.

Even with fare integration at $0.00 in additional cost to take the bus, most will probably still walk as by the time you wait for the bus and take it two stops, you may as well walk.

And when walking involves a long walk through an inhospitable environment, people just drive. Thus bad planning and a bad location for this kind of density.

I can tell you today that many in the Centro Square walk to the subway, but that the development is mostly auto based, unlike the projects opening up on the other side of the highway like Expo which at least appear to have proportionately much higher levels of pedestrian activity accessing the core.

This is requesting a maximum FSI of 6.0 in the OPA as well, which is above most subway station's wildest dreams for gross density, yet alone BRT. It's not appropriate for a BRT system. Something closer to 2-3 FSI is more appropriate.

It's likely not all that real anyway, probably mostly just a response to Vaughan's currently underway secondary plan for the area. SAIL is a fairly new tenant here, I imagine they have a long lease on the property.
 

WislaHD

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Hmm, I think the driving part is a selling point not a hindrance. This is in Vaughan and right next to a major highway interchange after all, people buying into these condos will drive, as they will at VMC and along the Sheppard corridor and elsewhere. The important thing is that there is a BRT stop next door, so the mode share can in theory (and by intent) be split fairly between transit and driving depending on travel patterns of residents who choose to relocate here.

I understand that the VIVA bus routes are not super frequent yet, but I thought the whole point of building them as BRT rather than as regular bus routes was to induce development and increase frequency overtime as demand warrants it. In other words, there is excess capacity on this transit route to support a development like this. Residents at Centro Square opting to walk rather than take the BRT could be a function of (a) the VIVA route through this stretch only opening in the past year or so; (b) the lack of fare integration; and (c) lack of frequency on the route. All three concerns seem like they are solvable long-term.

I find it strange to hold this development site to different standards than elsewhere in the region. Elsewhere, we would applaud redevelopment proposals two bus stops (7 minutes according to Google Maps) away from a subway station. I mean, this development has a striking similarity to QuadReal's Cloverdale Mall redevelopment, which is a similar distance away from the subway station, and similar located next to a highway interchange and adjacent to some of the worst air quality in the entire region, and yet that development is moving forward without much criticism and significantly higher densities than this proposal.

I agree on both points that this is probably a long-term development scheme, and that this development as proposed is probably too dense. Still, I want to see new residential clusters pop up in the 905, and subsequent development at the Home Depot site and surrounding area might make this a viable future neighbourhood district independent of VMC. A lot can change in 20 years.
 

salsa

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Yes, Hwy-7 is essentially a freeway, but the residents in this development don't need to traverse it for long except next to the Centro Square development on their way to the VIVA station. The residents will instead be walking through that new street traversing the master plan, which looks to be intended as a pedestrian friendly and landscaped environment, and not miserable suburban conditions like Hwy-7 or Weston Road nearby.

That new street would function as little more than an access road for a bunch of underground parking, and a convenient shortcut for traffic between Highway 7 and Portage Parkway. Unless this is compensated with exceptional architectural design rather than the usual run-of-the-mill suburban highrises with oversized podiums and disused green spaces... this street doesn't exactly strike me as pedestrian friendly.


Those aren't contradictions - they are the exact reason it shouldn't happen.

Even with fare integration at $0.00 in additional cost to take the bus, most will probably still walk as by the time you wait for the bus and take it two stops, you may as well walk.

And when walking involves a long walk through an inhospitable environment, people just drive. Thus bad planning and a bad location for this kind of density.

I completely agree, having observed exactly this on the street in central North York where I grew up in, which I feel is quite analogous (i.e. "only" a ten minute walk from a bus that is "only a few stops away from the subway"). Well... despite the subway being close by, it still takes about 20 minutes just to get to it, which represents almost half of the total travel time between here and downtown. And for Yorkdale mall: 30 minutes by transit vs 10 minutes by car. This is a perfect example of the problem of first/last mile for transit, which causes most people to drive instead.

As for the site in question... the subway ride alone is up to 50 minutes depending how far south you're going, which is already pushing the limit for what many people are willing to tolerate. Yet somehow on top of that, people will also choose to walk this inhospitable environment to use the bus station? I don't think so. The only people who will be buying here, are people who do not plan to use transit.

To hell with this proposal.
 

Northern Light

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This area needs several improvements, some quite elaborate and expensive to be vaguely walkable.

By my estimation, at the very least.

2 cloverleaf ramps require removal (configuring them to work from traffic lit intersections aligned w/existing intersections).

Sidewalks on 7 and on Portage need substantial improvement, widening, buffering (bike lanes), streetscape etc.

2 additional connection points across 400 are required, they can include cars, but could be pedestrian/cycling only. However, to make the latter hospitable, I would argue for a park deck at least 15M wide, providing a 4M walking path with 5.5M buffer with trees on either side, giving you at least some help w/air quality and aesthetics.

The above would be Colossus Drive to ???; and Northview to a future Apple Mill.

Finally, you need that fine-grained pleasant walking experience to finish any connection to VMC station.

Infrastructure aside, bus service remains far too poor to encourage transit; they require 15M service (6am-1am, 7 days a week) or better in place before the first sale
 

WislaHD

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That new street would function as little more than an access road for a bunch of underground parking, and a convenient shortcut for traffic between Highway 7 and Portage Parkway. Unless this is compensated with exceptional architectural design rather than the usual run-of-the-mill suburban highrises with oversized podiums and disused green spaces... this street doesn't exactly strike me as pedestrian friendly.
You're right that this the access road isn't going to be particularly urban, but I think the end result could look something akin to this North York streetscape pulled from google maps:

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Perhaps with wider sidewalks, less on-street parking, and more articulate street landscaping. I don't think I would describe this street as pedestrian hostile, especially when compared to Hwy-7 and nearby arterials.

If pedestrians are walking to-and-from their residences via the service road, and only interface with Hwy-7 at the VIVA stop at the intersection, then they are minimizing their exposure to pedestrian hostile environments. It is quite another story of course if residents are deciding to walk over the highway interchange and walk 2km to VMC.
 

janschot

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The number 10 bus has a stop at Chrislea and Portage, at the northeast of this site. Service is awful at about twice hourly, but if you're willing to time your departure, you're a five minute trip away from the subway terminal.
 

innsertnamehere

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The number 10 bus has a stop at Chrislea and Portage, at the northeast of this site. Service is awful at about twice hourly, but if you're willing to time your departure, you're a five minute trip away from the subway terminal.
the scale of this development would likely see things like bus frequencies improved to allow for greater access to the site.
 

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