by Duncan McAllister, Special to QMI Agency
Whether it’s traffic congestion, the land transfer tax or the high cost of housing, urban professionals who still wish to maintain their downtown careers are seeking more affordable, high-quality lifestyle options elsewhere around the Golden Horseshoe.
With the GO train service, VIA rail, new regional transit ways and subway extensions, commuters are deciding to leave the car at home. Purchasers have more transit options now than ever before, and new lifestyle communities are springing up around Toronto with commutes generally within an hour into the downtown core.
The city of Burlington has become an urban centre in its own right. With two GO stations, the express train brings you into Toronto’s Union Station within 35 minutes. Adi Development’s new Mod’rn condos plans to serve the needs of both local workers and Toronto commuters. According to president and CEO, Tariq Adi, “I know people that are of my demographic, between the age of 30 to 45 let’s say, that do work in Toronto and do want to maintain that sort of cozy city feeling. They still want to have an urban type of lifestyle and they would choose to live in Burlington but still use the GO train. And to be honest, the congestion is terrible in Toronto at five o’clock, I mean it’s brutal.”
North of Toronto, the city of Barrie introduced the Alandale Waterfront GO station in January of this year. This is Barrie’s second GO station and will serve the city centre. According to architect Roland Rom Colthoff of RAW Design, “There’s not a lot of lakefront left in Toronto that’s affordable, but you can be on the Lake in Barrie and then just take the GO train.”
Colthoff is a principal in the design of Citycore’s Harmony Village project on Lake Simcoe, which is close to the new GO station and only about an hour’s commute into Toronto. “The idea is that hopefully the people moving here are going to be more transit-oriented than is traditional for Barrie.” he says. “It’s not a car culture that we’re trying to promote here, we’re trying to promote reduced automobile usage.”
And big changes are underway in the city of Vaughan. The subway is being extended from Toronto into York Region and the Viva Next program will see a rapid transit way along Highway 7 with two dedicated bus lanes which will span the distance between Markham and Brampton.
The Cortel Group is developing the Expo City project, the first mixed-use residential development in what’s being called the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre. V.P. Peter Cortellucci says that “Different areas like Woodbridge, Thornhill, Concorde, Kleinberg, Maple, these areas have all developed very successfully as suburban communities. Now what they’re doing is creating an identity for Vaughan itself, really the downtown core. And that’s the initiative that they’re doing with the subway.”
East of Toronto, the new San Francisco by the Bay condominiums in Pickering will offer the commuter the best of both worlds with a yacht club style of atmosphere and located next to the GO station, with a quick 22-minute ride into Toronto’s downtown core. Situated on the shores of Frenchman’s Bay, it will offer residents that perfect balance between urban and lakeside living.
“San Francisco by the Bay is the first master-planned community in Pickering.” says Ralph Del Duca, vice-president of sales and marketing for Chestnut Hill Developments. “The community caters to the lifestyle with all of the luxurious amenities that you would find in a big city high-rise.”