a big thank you

June 24th, 2014

June 21 Davis Drive construction tours

This past Saturday, June 21st, vivaNext held construction tours and updates on the progress of the bus rapidway project in Newmarket. A combined 200 people came out between our 130 Davis Drive location and Main Street & Davis location for the day’s activities. “Construction Guy” and “Explorer Girl” welcomed families and residents as they engaged in interactive walking tours, received project updates, and enjoyed free ice cream.

Congratulations to the lucky winners of our ShopDavis prize packs, which featured goodies and services purchased from the businesses and restaurants along the corridor. The prize packs cover themes from Food & Drink  to Tech & Spa and really highlight the diversity of businesses that Davis Drive has to offer. Thank you for continuing to stop, shop and dine on Davis during the busy construction season. A complete list of winners and the businesses featured in the prize packs can be found on our website.

If you weren’t able to attend the event, all of the materials that were shared are available on our Past Meetings page, so you can read up on the latest information that you may have missed. You can also subscribe to project updates.

We’d like to extend a special thank you to everyone who attended the event. We couldn’t have asked for a better day, and we appreciate everyone’s support and interest. Our goal is to continue to keep you informed about the transformation of Davis Drive. It was great to speak with residents about the future of the rapidway project, and we hope to see you at similar events in the future!



long, cold winter leading to plant woes

June 19th, 2014

long, cold winter leading to plant woes

This past winter’s sub-zero temperatures, heavy snowfalls, driving winds and ice storm will go down as one of the longest and harshest on record. The effects of the ice storm are still being felt here in York Region, as we start to take stock of our plants, trees and shrubbery this spring.

In one of our earlier blogs, we talked about the trees, perennials and grasses that we’ll be installing in the planters in medians and boulevards along the Highway 7 rapidway between East Beaver Creek and South Town Centre Boulevard. Like you, we have noticed that some of the perennials and grasses have not come back this spring.

All the trees, perennials and shrubbery on Highway 7 are under a two year warranty and we are monitoring their growth to see if they need to be replaced or will come back throughout the spring and summer months.

We are hopeful that the chilly winter will result in better soil, leading to healthier gardens. Soil science shows that the cold weather creates pores in the soil, which naturally aerates plants. The colder it gets, the deeper frost penetrates. When the frost melts, it leaves pockets in the soil. Winter damage is always factored into gardening in Canada, as we assess our plants every spring and replace the ones that didn’t survive.

With all this in mind, vivaNext is committed to maintaining our new landscaping which will make Highway 7 much more attractive, pleasant and welcoming for everyone.



Join us for a construction tour!

June 17th, 2014

Join Us!

Looking for something to do this weekend? Join vivaNext this Saturday, June 21st in Newmarket for construction tours and updates on the progress of the bus rapidway project! From 11am – 2pm, activities for all ages will be taking place at two locations: the vivaNext Project Information Centre [130 Davis Drive] and the corner of Main Street and Davis Drive.

Interested in how retaining walls are built, or curious about the preservation of heritage buildings? Sign up for guided walking tours at Main and Davis, taking place at 11am and 1pm, to get a behind the scenes look at the construction happening along the corridor. Kids receive free construction hats and can follow along with an interactive map. At the vivaNext Project Information Centre, view detailed maps and schedules of the project, and specialists will be on hand to answer any of your questions.

Throughout the day, kids can meet “Construction Guy” and “Explorer Girl” and everyone can cool off with complimentary ice cream. There are also plenty of opportunities to win prizes – enter for a chance to win a ShopDavis prize pack or pick up a scratch ‘n’ win card for additional giveaways.

We know construction is messy. For everyone who has continued to support our shops and businesses on Davis Drive, we truly appreciate it – continue to stop, eat and shop Davis. We‘re excited to meet you all and provide updates on what’s happening in your community. Hope to see you Saturday!



everything at your doorstep

June 12th, 2014

everything at your doorstep

Imagine everything you needed was nearby: shopping within walking distance, doctor’s office right around the corner and a park just up the street. Your work is an easy trip on transit, and there are even places on your street for dinner and entertainment. It can happen, and it’s not just in the big city.

A well-planned community combines residential, commercial and recreational uses in the same area, and this is what planners call “mixed-use.” Transit is a key part of a mixed-use community, because it gets people where they need to go without a car. It also connects us to other areas within the Region. Over time, mixed-use development naturally favours pedestrians and transit riders. This is a style of development that city planners and builders design so that people can have everything close to sidewalks and transit stations, instead of across giant parking lots or wide highways. This type of development creates a more dynamic, people-friendly style of living which had not been available in York Region’s suburban style design of the past. Providing options for living is important, from suburban to urban, because when you can find it all mixed together in one community it allows generations to transition without having to move too far.

In York Region, some of our core areas are now evolving into mixed-use communities, so we’re supporting that change by building a fast, convenient rapid transit system. As part of the Centres and Corridors initiative, York Region has a vision and best practices for new mixed-use development to make sure that is gets built in areas which are supported by higher levels of transit. Markham, Vaughan, Newmarket and Richmond Hill also have their own specific plans for key centres in each municipality. You can see the work taking place by looking for the cranes on the horizon, not a sight you would have seen here a decade ago.

As these areas evolve, buildings will be closer to the road, and closer to shops, restaurants, services, recreation, work and transit. So, it’s really nice to have everything at your doorstep if that is a lifestyle you are looking for – you can now find it being built right here in York Region.



signs, signs, everywhere a sign

June 10th, 2014

It seems anywhere and everywhere you go these days there’s a sign of some type that catches your eye. Whether it’s an advertising, traffic or directional sign, it’s meant to grab your attention. The purpose of all the signs out there is for people to watch and read them every day as they pass by, so that you know what is going on in their neighbourhoods.

With the large number of signs out there you may become desensitized, but the signs in construction zones are there for your safety. A busy season of road work is underway on several vivaNext projects, so we hope drivers and pedestrians pay close attention to construction markers and signs as they may change daily depending on the work.

For pedestrians, crossing between intersections is tempting. But during construction, it’s especially important to cross at crosswalks – lane closures can change frequently and although construction areas are well marked, drivers may not see a pedestrian crossing unexpectedly.  When large equipment and trucks are working in an area, it is especially confusing if workers are not expecting people in their work zones, so please make sure you are in a safe area, which will be well marked with a sign, of course.

We understand the frustration of being a driver stuck in traffic too, and we’re using large digital signs on the street, to let you know ahead of time about lane closures and detours, as well as providing current travel times.   We hope these signs help you plan your route accordingly and help you manage your travel times.  To receive regular updates about our construction projects, subscribe to our email notices. And for on-the-go traffic alerts about our construction, follow us on Twitter.

Whether you’re biking, walking or driving this summer, we hope you’re enjoying the weather, staying alert and following the signs that keep you safe.

moving the masses

June 5th, 2014

moving the masses

Hosting an event on a global scale is no small feat. Preparing to accommodate an influx of tourists and visitors expected in any host city can be a challenge, especially when it comes to how they’ll get around. This is why developments and improvements to public transportation are a major component in staging a world event. From the Olympic Games to the World Cup, public transportation has proven to quickly and efficiently move the masses to and from sports stadiums, and all around the host cities.

Think back to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games held in Vancouver. The city saw the record use of mass transit both during and after the Games, which has changed commuting habits. Mass transit ridership increased by more than 50 percent during the Games and remains well above previous- year levels according to an official Olympic facts and figures report. The city launched a transportation expansion plan which included 48 new SkyTrain cars, a new SeaBus, and 180 diesel-electric hybrid buses, which have lower fuel consumption and fewer emissions, to accommodate visitors.

The UK also saw the success of its $673 million dollar public transportation improvements during the 2012 Olympics in London, where nearly one million people used the system. 900,000 people, almost half of the overall 2 million people who visited Olympic Park, used public transit including shuttles, bikes routes and special light rail. London is already known for its advanced underground Tube system, yet the improvements were part of an over-arching initiative to make the games “greener” and were also implemented as a long-term infrastructural investment.

It comes as no surprise then, that Brazil invested $700 million dollars into bus infrastructure development to be ready ahead of the June 12th start of this year’s FIFA World Cup hosted in Rio de Janeiro. The Transcarioca, a 39 km BRT line with dedicated lanes for buses, officially opened on June 1st and is expected to carry 320,000 passengers daily during the tournament.

Next year, it’s Toronto’s turn in the spotlight as host of the 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games. There are already plans for transit development and improvement in place to combat traffic congestion and poor air quality. York Region and The City of Markham are pleased to be hosting a sporting event during these games, right on the viva system.

Providing quick and efficient transportation during any large world event ensures that the focus remains on the thousands of people who come together to compete, volunteer, or cheer on – people like you and I. Great transit is just the link that connects us all.

BRT around the world

June 3rd, 2014

BRT around the world

The buzz surrounding Bus Rapid transit [BRT] systems that emerged in the early 2000s has not died down. Cities around the world are continuing to invest in rapid transit projects as an affordable and reliable way of connecting people to job opportunities and leisure activities. As of October 1st, 2013, the transit experts at EMBARQ have reported a total of over 300 bus corridors around the world, spreading to 163 cities across 38 countries.

I’ve discussed BRT systems around the world before, focusing on Curitiba, Brazil and South America’s leading role in rapid transit development. Now, cities in places from Indonesia to South Africa have bus corridors in operation that are positively impacting their growing urban landscapes. Check out some fast-facts on diverse cities who have embraced BRT and view images on our Pinterest board:

Johannesburg, South Africa [Rea Vaya]

  • Hit the road August 30, 2009
  • Rea Vaya means “we are going”
  • 48 stations and 10 median key stations are currently operational on 59 km of trunk routes
  • Commuters stand to save an estimated 73 million hours by shifting to BRT between 2007-2026. The travel time saved is equivalent to over 9 million 8-hour workdays [Embarq].

Brisbane, Australia [Brisbane Busways]

  • Hit the road September 13, 2000
  • A 25 km network of busways, including the South East, Northern and Eastern Busways

Jakarta, India [TransJakarta]

  • Hit the road January 25, 2004
  • First BRT system in Southern and Southeast Asia
  • 12 corridors in operation with over 200 stations along the closed trunk system
  • Carries more than 350,000 passengers daily

Mexico City, Mexico [Metrobús]

  • Hit the road June 19, 2005
  • Transports over 850,000 passengers daily
  • 2,000 days of lost work due to illness were prevented by reducing local air pollution and emission on the Metrobús Line 3 [Embarq]

Istanbul, Turkey [Metrobüs]

  • Hit the road September 17, 2007
  • Approximately 50 km in length and has 45 stations
  • Used by a number of Metrobüs lines
  • Carries around 800,000 people daily
  • In Istanbul, the average passenger on Metrobüs saved 28 workdays per year in reduced travel times [Embarq]


recognizing great transit

May 29th, 2014

recognizing great transit

As I’ve discussed in a previous blog, huge infrastructure projects involve the cooperation and organization of many parts. Fast, reliable transit systems are not built overnight. Years of design and planning go into a project before construction even begins. You might feel like construction in the vivaNext corridors is never-ending, but remember that these are important transit investments that, in the long term, will drive positive change in our communities.

The plan to promote awareness in the City of Markham was initiated back in the fall of 2001 with the “Great Transportation Debate,” which drew attention to the need for a rapid transit system in York Region. Fast-forward 13 years later to today, where the first section of rapidway is open on Highway 7 and the rest of the ambitious vivaNext projects are well underway.

World renowned environmentalist David Suzuki mentioned our project in a recent article, calling it an “impressive BRT network with rapid transit corridors for a fleet of modern and comfortable fast buses.” He pins the success of the world’s leading cities like New York on government investments in transportation solutions, from light rail and subways to bus rapid transit networks, so it’s exciting to know that cities in York Region are heading in this direction.

VivaNext’s success has been recognized by others as well: earlier this year it was awarded Project of the Year by the Ontario Public Works Association, for a transportation project valued greater than $50 million. The honour is granted to an organization that promotes excellence in the management and administration of public works projects by recognizing the coordination between managing agency, the consultant, architect, engineer, and the contractor.

Also, the York Region Chapter of the Professional Engineers of Ontario chose vivaNext as Engineering Project of the Year. It’s gratifying to have our commitment to excellence and dedication to the vision for York Region recognized by top industry professionals.

With summer construction season well underway, we thank you for your patience as these “impressive” infrastructure projects get built.


building healthier communities

May 27th, 2014

building healthier communities

What if I told you that taking public transit can significantly improve your health? The Toronto Star recently reported on health professionals in the Greater Toronto Area [GTA] who agree that when it comes to land-use and transportation planning, more consideration must be given to encouraging residents to walk, cycle and use public transit.

How our communities are designed influences how we choose to get around, so making transit and active transportation integral to city planning can contribute to healthier, more active lifestyles. Instead of driving your car, choosing to bus, bike or walk to work are alternatives that mix pleasure and health benefits. Also, the article mentions that taking public transit can easily add 30 minutes of physical activity into your day because it can include walking to and from bus stops or subways.

One of the benefits of designing a major infrastructure project like vivaNext is the opportunity it provides to enhance our natural environment wherever possible. In addition to the new rapid transit system, the urban transformation that vivaNext is helping to shape will result in more walkable, people-friendly neighbourhoods that encourage pedestrians and cyclists to get out and enjoy their local environments. What’s great is that residents now have safe choices in how they want to travel.

The new communities in the urban centres will be mixed-use, meaning they’ll offer residential, employment and recreational options. With convenient access between these new urban neighbourhoods and an expanding rapid transit network, people can travel across York Region and into the rest of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area [GTHA] without needing a car, making the centres an attractive option for people who want an urban lifestyle within York Region. These new urban hubs will offer walkable, bike-friendly and people-centred neighbourhoods that will be welcoming to people at all stages of life – from young professionals to empty nesters, making York Region a great place to live.


greening york region…with bike lanes!

May 20th, 2014

The sight of summer weather means more people are getting outside and being active, ditching their winter tires for bicycle tires. Cyclists make up a large percentage of commuters so ensuring their safety, as well as the safety of other motorists and pedestrians, is important in creating convenient and cohesive road systems. Biking is as a healthy, more environmentally friendly way to get around, and the vivaNext corridors are helping to facilitate this.

As part of the Highway 7 East rapidway, bike boxes and dedicated bike lanes are being implemented along the corridor. Bike boxes allow cyclists to avoid crossing three lanes of busy traffic to reach the left-turn lanes, and act as a safe, designated waiting area. With the installation of these bike boxes, the temporary condition of restricting motorists from making a right-turn movement at intersections has been removed. Motorists are now able to make right turns at red lights on Highway 7 at all intersections.

Dedicated bike lanes also mean cyclists have these lanes all to themselves and are not sharing at any point with other vehicles. They are painted a high-contrast green in the areas around the intersections, with specific bike lane markings to clearly identify them in the mid-block areas. Following the established safety standards, bike lanes are designed at 1.4 metres wide, with an additional half metre for a buffer zone between the bike and traffic lanes.

For cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians, sharing the road is becoming increasingly difficult in dense urban centres. But, the installation of bike lanes is proving to be a great alternative to our congested roads and improving air quality. Also, cyclists can enjoy the benefits of bike racks on transit during longer commutes, which eases the bike-to-bus transition and helps with mobility. You can read more about the benefits of bike lanes in a recent article from the Toronto Star. Following the rules of the road and respecting all commuters in the process can be a positive experience, so get out and get cycling!