City of Vaughan
Janet Rosenberg & Studio (Lead Consultant)
Bespoke Collective (Engagement)
Cygnus Design Group (Signage & Wayfinding)
Park People (Place-making)
Turner Townsend (Cost Consultant)
Draft Submitted to the City of Vaughan (July 2022)
Anticipated completion in early 2024
Renderings by JRS
Landscape architecture is on the front lines of climate change and the pursuit of a more sustainable, equitable and resilient future. Nowhere is this more pressing and visible than in our dynamic, dense and growing cities. With land values high and available parks and open space at a premium, our cities, where residents have little to no personal outdoor space, present both a challenge and an opportunity.
Landscape architecture can, and should, be at the forefront of city planning. Securing meaningful and well thought out open spaces for future parkland is critical to ensuring that our cities can support residents by providing them with the outdoor spaces that they both desire and need.
This notion of landscape architecture first has been championed in Janet Rosenberg & Studio’s work on the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Parks and Wayfinding Master Plan. Since 2020, JRS has been working diligently with the City of Vaughan to carry out a robust research, analysis and action plan to identify how much parkland and open space and what facilities a future urban population will require. By involving us as landscape architects early in the process and in parallel with traditional planning, we have been able to identify land areas, facilities and programs that will be needed in this future downtown. By being proactive with parkland planning, the City will be able to work with landowners to ensure that the future of VMC is one that is sustainable, desirable and most of all, a fantastic place to live and work.
Located at the confluence of Highways 7, 400, 407 and Jane Street, the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC) presents an unparalleled opportunity to create a vibrant centre for public life in Vaughan. At over 200 hectares, the VMC represents a massive undertaking on the part of the City and various landowners in the area. The VMC will create a new downtown where previously one did not exist. In order to make this new downtown a success, accessible open spaces, intuitive wayfinding strategies, and an outstanding public realm will be required.
Building on the vision and guidance in existing VMC plans and policy documents, the VMC Parks & Wayfinding Master Plan outlines a strategy for creating a diverse and interconnected network of parks and environmental open spaces. The plan includes actionable strategies and design guidance that will give the City the tools it needs to ensure the parkland vision comes to fruition.
Public consultation and engagement were essential to creating the Master Plan, and helped the project team in assessing the desires, needs and opinions of current and future residents, visitors, employees, and employers in the VMC. During the Assessment Phase of the VMC PWMP development, online surveys, presentations and feedback sessions were used to gain an understanding of how people will use parks and open spaces in the VMC. The majority of the engagement took place during COVID restrictions, which required JRS and the Project Team to be flexible and innovative in how engagement was successfully approached. Overall, engagement levels were high and the results were meaningful. A number of findings, summarized in ‘The VMC Engagement Summary Report’ helped to shape and refine the Master Plan.
One of the biggest challenges faced during the development of the Master Plan was the question of how to assess the parkland needs for a population that does not yet exist. The City of Vaughan is historically a very suburban community, whereas the VMC will be a dense, urban downtown. This difference in urban fabric and development type has far reaching impacts on the open space and facility needs that the VMC will have when compared to a typical Vaughan neighbourhood. In order to understand who will ultimately live in the VMC and what their needs may be from a facility standpoint, JRS conducted a thorough demographic study of similar growth areas across the GTA. The profiles of these similarly dense, tower dominant neighbourhoods were analyzed and found to contain a distinct but quite consistent demographic profile. This typical demographic was applied to the anticipated population of the VMC in order to understand what that future population may look like and, ultimately, what types of parks, open spaces and facilities they are likely to need. This study was foundational to the entire Master Plan process, and demonstrates areas where landscape architecture can make an impact beyond detailed designs.
The VMC Parks & Wayfinding Assessment Report was completed and submitted to the City in October 2022. The Final Master Plan will be delivered in early 2024.