The area around Yorkdale Shopping Centre is notorious for its traffic deadlocks. That’s why the City of Toronto is launching a new project to reduce car congestion and improve access to the main roads and Highway 401, CBC reports.
But before you get too excited, we should mention that one of the plans for the project is to develop a new neighbourhood on the mall’s massive above-ground parking lot.
Up to 1,500 residential units are expected to be built on the lot, which covers as much as 680,000 square metres, according to city documents. It will take up to 20 years to complete, but the public is already questioning what this will do to Yorkdale’s current traffic congestion.
“Are you purposely looking for trouble?” wrote concerned reader David Pollock on CBC. “There is no way that Yorkdale in this current high-volume dense status can sustain a residential area. Imagine owning a home there during Christmas shopping season. You would never be able to keep illegally parked cars off of the roads and driveways.”
On Twitter, others agreed that the traffic in the area is already a disaster.
As if Yorkdale wasn’t busy enough…
— Robbie MacMillan (@RobbieCMac) March 15, 2019
Yorkdale mall is the stuff of nightmares when it comes to parking. If I need to go there, I have to be in the right frame of mind and do my absolute best to get there early morning because traffic congestion is horrible.
— Nadine Christie (@NadineCB) March 14, 2019
Parking for Yorkdale mall will be moved underground to accommodate the new neighbourhood, which has already been in the works for a few years, CBC reports.
Despite traffic concerns, Barbara Lawlor, CEO and president of Baker Real Estate Incorporated, believes the new neighbourhood will actually do some good for the area.
“It is rare to find residential development opportunities that are [in] good locations with transit routes already established, and Toronto has a great need for housing, both market and rental, that is close to transit options,” she told Toronto Storeys in an email.
Lawlor also noted that fewer young people are inclined to drive. “Realize that we are moving toward a less car-centric population with our young people, who are not as dedicated to owning vehicles as their parents were,” she said. “At Baker Real Estate, we are selling far fewer parking spots in condos. Younger buyers are using public transit, Uber, Lyft, etc. In addition, the City has at least five years to figure out how to handle the gridlock.”
The new Yorkdale community won’t just include residential space. “It’ll be a mixture of residential, and retail as well as publicly accessible open spaces, so courtyards, as well as a public park — that sort of thing,” senior city planner Guy Matthew told CBC. “And potentially a new road network.”
There are currently three development options for the Yorkdale parking lot that show the potential use of the space. Each option includes a hotel, office space, and greenery, in addition to residential and retail buildings.
This isn’t the first time a Toronto mall parking lot has been targeted as a potential spot for new housing. Earlier this year, it was announced that Primaris Management Inc. — the company that owns Dufferin Mall — wanted to create rental units on the mall’s northern-facing parking lot.
“Most malls are close to public transit access. Plus, developers do not have to assemble parcels of land; they already exist,” Lawlor explained. “Parking lots are essentially empty ground-level space, something that is difficult to find in Toronto. With the possibilities of underground parking, why not make the most of the ground-level area available?”