Canada Lands Company (CLC), a federal Crown corporation, has been at the forefront of reintegrating surplus Government of Canada properties into mixed-use communities for nearly three decades. "We're a national company focused on transforming and reintegrating former federal lands into their surrounding communities with projects from coast to coast," Stéphan Déry, President and CEO, told UrbanToronto in a recent interview, along with David Anselmi, Regional Director of Real Estate.

With a portfolio of 23 projects and 429 hectares, CLC’s goals come down to crafting complete communities, enhancing local economies, and providing Canadians with a range of benefits including housing, parks, and commercial amenities. As the main real estate redevelopment arm of the Government of Canada, CLC operates on behalf of its singular shareholder, placing it in a unique position in the national development dialogue.

Downsview West, by Canada Lands Company, sourced from id8 Framework Plan – Future Rail Bridge over East-West Street

With the Downsview Lands in Toronto's Downsview area, Canada Lands is looking to play its part in addressing the housing crisis through innovative development and sustainable urban design. Déry notes that, "In the middle of a housing crisis, with support from municipalities and the provincial government, CLC can accelerate the development of our lands, especially in Toronto."

For this massive endeavour, CLC partnered with Northcrest Developments to create the shared vision through a process called id8 Downsview, to inform the City’s new Downsview Secondary Plan for the former airport and surplus Government of Canada lands that at one point made up the Canadian Forces Base Toronto.

The 520-acre masterplan, covering an area known for its military and aviation history, is now poised to become a thriving urban space, including significant affordable housing options. "In partnership with the City (of Toronto), we can accelerate development and build more housing faster, on a beautiful parcel of land connected to nature," Déry adds.

2024 National Urban Design Award

Recognizing the quality of the vision for the lands, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, the Canadian Institute of Planners, and the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects have bestowed a 2024 National Urban Design Award in the Urban Design Plans category upon the Downsview Framework Plan. This accolade recognizes the collaborative effort of architects, planners, engineers, and landscape architects who have contributed to the master plan.

Déry reflects that, “This was a three-year endeavour that included robust public consultation, collaboration with the City of Toronto, and numerous inspirational workshops and design sessions to achieve a community plan with people and nature at its heart.”

Downsview West District

Situated directly beside the Downsview Park subway and GO station, and north of the expansive Downsview Park, Downsview West, CLC's first district within the Downsview Framework Plan is set to transform the local landscape. This 30-hectare transit-oriented development will introduce over 8,000 new residential units, with 20% designated for affordable housing, alongside 1.4 million ft² of non-residential space. The area will also feature new parks, community services, and educational facilities.

Downsview West, by Canada Lands Company, sourced from Downsview West District – Future Fire Hall Park

"We are preparing to submit a new district plan by this Summer, which will be the first under the new emerging Secondary Plan to be approved," explains Anselmi. "It's an incredible opportunity, distinguished in part by the repurposing of the Depot Building, a significant distribution warehouse into a new icon for the neighbourhood."


Looking northwest to a Demonstration Plan of the Arbo neighbourhood, designed by The Planning Partnership for Canada Lands Company, sourced from Arbo neighbourhood District Plan application

Formerly known as the William Baker District, Arbo will be a transit-oriented development within walking distance of Downsview Park subway and GO stations. The 25-hectare project is near shovel-ready, with its first phase set to introduce 1,400 units, of which a minimum of 280 units, or 20%, are affordable housing. The full neighbourhood is expected to include approximately 4,000 units upon completion.

Anselmi offers insight into the site's development: "Arbo is already underway, being reviewed under the 2011 Secondary Plan. We're looking for Draft Plan of Subdivision approval imminently." The Arbo neighbourhood is designed to integrate seamlessly with the surrounding natural environment, featuring a preserved 4.8-hectare woodlot and a 3.8-hectare ecological park.

Anselmi further highlights the project's sustainability, noting, "One of the guiding principles of Arbo is the idea of green infrastructure as an influencing system within the development."

An aerial view looking northeast to the future site of CLC's Arbo neighbourhood, designed by The Planning Partnership for Canada Lands Company

Ongoing Collaboration with Centennial College

A pivotal element of CLC's vision for Downsview is its collaboration with Centennial College to advance and grow their Downsview Aerospace Campus at 65 Carl Hall Road. "We're working with Centennial College to envision what the campus will look like in the next 5 to 10 years," says Stéphan Déry. "Our goal is not just to build homes but to build an integrated community.”

Centennial College Downsview Campus, designed by MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects, Stantec

UrbanToronto will continue to follow progress on these developments, but in the meantime, you can learn more about them from our Database files, linked below. If you'd like, you can join in on the conversation in the associated Project Forum thread or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

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