Just a few years ago, living in Vaughan was a challenge for those without four wheels, or two wheels for those motorcycle enthusiasts. Yes, there’s always been public transit, at least as long as I can remember. However, in Vaughan, not having a car was seen as crazy. In those days, the bus ran occasionally, every hour perhaps and in cold winter nights, it seemed like three hours between stops. Weekends had diminished service and if you wanted to head out at night, then get home early, because the last bus left Steeles at 10pm.
I remember walking the lonely stretch of road from Toronto’s Steeles border to Highway Seven ( Hwy 7 ). Back then, the sidewalks were green or brown, a mix of grass or mud depending whether it had rained. The winter snow & wind didn’t help since this path was rarely plowed. I still remember seeing Highway 407 being constructed as I walked up Martingrove towards Hwy 7.
The sidewalks were eventually constructed and the bus service improved which is now called VIVA / York Regional Transit. In recent years, the biggest transit announcement has been the Subway extending from Downsview station to Vaughan, BUT WAIT, Hold your applause. The subway will stop at Highway Seven ( Hwy 7 )
Soon Vaughan residents will no longer need to call a taxi to Toronto for $60 as I did last night. In a few short years the TTC Subway will be extended through York University and several other stops before ending at Highway seven ( Hwy 7 ).
My question is…. why wouldn’t the subway plan include stops to Langstaff, Rutherford and Major Mackenzie. The obvious answer is money, perhaps the timing wasn’t right, or Political Will and so forth… I only hope when planning this Subway project, that someone had thought to extend it further, but couldn’t due to _____ ______ ____ ( you can fill in the blanks)
Nonetheless, I’ll make my case:
Had the plan included Major Mackenzie Drive then Vaughans first Hospital and Medical campus near Jane Street would be easily accessible to the thousands of additional people who are expected to work in Vaughan during the coming years. It would also provide easy access to Toronto for Vaughan residents. Every direction along Major Mackenzie has seen significant growth in housing. People of all ethnicities now live in detached homes , semis and townhouses with their families. The urban sprawl continues all the way to Teston Road and we’ve already begun building north of Teston off Keele. Some Vaughan residents may not even realize there are now entire neighborhoods of single family homes just off Kirby Road.
Now, lets take a tour to our next stop, I'm heading south on my imaginary Subway train towards Rutherford Road. Making this argument is easier than the last. Only a few years ago Vaughan Mills Mall was hailed as one of the biggest shopping centers in North America with name brand stores and entertainment. At the time, Vaughn residents were excited to see the new construction; property values rose as people continued to clamor for new homes . Those early investors who purchased homes along Rutherford in Vellore Village had little traffic, easy access to Highway 400 ( Hwy 400 ) and looked forward to all the new amenities.
If you were an investor in this area, then all your dreams came true. Property values in Vellore Village rose steadily, your home price went through the roof, even after replacing the boring builder fixtures, you were still laughing. But with higher density comes more traffic especially if you’re heading west on Rutherford towards Highway 400 ( Hwy 400 ).
Vaughan Mills Mall at the corner of Jane & Rutherford, created significantly more traffic, add the Bellaria Condominiums with 600+ condo units plus new houses in Maple which rapidly developed as well. This past summer it took me 15 minutes to drive from Jane St to Highway 400. A trip that should normally take 2 minutes, maybe 4 minutes if I’m stopped at a red traffic light.
So I ask my fellow Vaughan residents, if our goal is to reduce the number of cars on the road, and traffic congestion, then wouldn’t a Subway stop at Vaughan Mills Mall make sense? Oh and did I mention, Canada’s Wonderland ... When tourists come to Toronto, they primarily stay in the downtown core, where they can find shopping, entertainment and easy transportation. I wonder how many Toursists have ventured to Canada’s Wonderland or to Vaughan in general. How many decided it was too far without a car.
Lets look at this topic from a financial perspective. When the Downsview subway extension was completed, I recall the equipment and tunnel boring machine was sold for far less than it was purchased. Will that happen again once the subway reaches Highway Seven ( Hwy 7 ), and if so, I think it would make economic sense to continue using the equipment for one last stop, rather than buying new boring machines in a few years to reach Vaughan Mills Mall? I certainly couldn’t justify purchasing new equipment in 5 years to extend the subway one or two more stops, thus if it’s not done now, then Vaughan home owners will have to wait until urban sprawl extends further... maybe King City. 20 years perhaps?
Extending the Subway to at least Rutherford would reduce traffic, give Toronto tourists and residents easy access to Vaughan Mills Mall, Canada’s Wonderland and provide Vaughan with a mobile workforce to further entice businesses to setup operations in the area. I don’t pretend to know the answer, but if I had to predict the future, I would guess the Subway is coming to Vaughan Mills Mall…at minimum.
What are your thoughts... I'd like to hear oher opinions as well...
Maybe we can create enough noise to make this idea a reality...
by Miguel Burgos
Miguel Burgos is a Realtor in Toronto, Ontario who entered the Real Estate field after a successful career with major corporations where he worked as National Sales Manager for Tier 1 Retail accounts and Distribution. Miguel can be found on Google+, Twitter & Facebook as well as Linked-In.