Posts Tagged ‘York Region’

then, now & next: Newmarket’s moments in time

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

then, now & next: Newmarket’s moments in time

Take a moment to travel back in time with vivaNext as we explore the past, present and future of the rapidway corridors. Over the next month, we’ll be digging into photo archives to explore each community’s unique heritage and showing you how the vivaNext projects will be part of this history.

First up is the charming Town of Newmarket! It became an official town in 1880 with a population of 2,000. Today, the town has 84,000 residents and continues to grow. It boasts small town charm, but has all the conveniences of a big city. Several historical pieces of architecture still remain in Newmarket today, and as part of the Davis Drive rapidway project, we are preserving these important pieces of culture that contribute to the Town’s character.

The Union Hotel was built on the northeast corner of Davis Drive and Main Street. The two-storey brick structure was designed by local architect John Ough and still has many of its original features. Past owners include James Burke, a soda water manufacturer, and Patrick Hodgins Sr. whose family used it as a store and residence. To allow for the widening necessary to accommodate the vivaNext rapidway, the Union Hotel and neighbouring two-storey concrete block building are being set back on the same property, to preserve them as a gateway to historical Main Street.

The Keith Bridge is also being reconstructed as part of the vivaNext rapidway project. Newmarket’s rich architectural and transportation heritage was the inspiration for the design of the new Keith Bridge. When finished in 2014, the reconstructed Keith Bridge will feature several historic design elements including replica period light fixtures and poles, and decorative concrete railings. Heritage lighting will accent the bridge and architectural detailing will retain a historical flavour.

Once complete, the Davis Drive rapidway will help to support successful urban revitalization by encouraging the development of attractive and pedestrian-friendly places for people to live, work, shop and play. Watch Newmarket’s then, now & next story and stay tuned to our YouTube channel for more videos on Richmond Hill, Vaughan, and Markham!


hug a tree

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Maybe it’s time to rethink the age-old saying “money doesn’t grow on trees.” According to a new report from TD Economics, Toronto’s dense, urban forests are providing more than $80-million of savings and environmental benefits every year. The report looks at Toronto’s urban forest of 10-million trees from an economic perspective, calculating the value each tree provides by saving energy, keeping rain and snow off the streets, and absorbing pollution. Even with maintenance costs factored in, the city’s trees are returning between $1.35 and $3.20 for every dollar spent.

Although the report focuses specifically on Toronto, the value in planting and maintaining trees can be attributed to any city in which you live. In fact, benefits can have more than just monetary value. Beautification, green space for recreation and importance to the residents are benefits that are difficult to calculate or define, yet still contribute to the landscape of a thriving community. The report also found that a mature tree canopy adds significantly to property values, adding yet another layer of economic benefit.

York Region already has plenty of recreational parks and green spaces that enhance the beauty of its towns and cities. The vivaNext projects will further enrich these communities by ensuring plant installation and growth well into the future. In Richmond Hill and Markham alone, approximately 292 trees and 4,910 perennials and grasses will be planted along the Highway 7 East corridor and boulevards.  Our challenge with new plantings is to get them to thrive in the first 2 years, but luckily all new plants and trees come with just that – a 2 year warranty! Further planting and new greenery will also be installed on BRT corridors in Vaughan, Newmarket, and Richmond Hill, once construction is complete. Details about the different types of trees and the selection process can be found in a previous posting.

Our hope is that the growth and maturity of the greenery reflects the prosperous growth of York Region over time. Especially during these warm summer months, get out and appreciate the beauty and colour that surrounds you. Hug a tree!


School’s done – summertime fun begins

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

School's done - summer time fun begins

Summer is an exciting and fun time for us on the vivaNext project. Warmer temperatures and longer days allow construction of our rapidway projects to get in high gear so they can be completed as quickly as possible. The official start of summer also means the end of the school year.

After the long cold winter that we had, the end of the school year is a chance for kids to get out and play by trading in their school bags and notebooks for swim suits, bikes and camping gear.

Warmer weather and no school mean kids and families are spending more time outside and on our streets. With that in mind, we would like to remind motorists to drive more carefully and with extra caution. It is up to us as drivers to make sure our kids stay safe and remember that kids often run out into the street without looking.

VivaNext wants you and your families to stay safe. We’ve all seen or maybe even done it – whether it’s rushing through a red light or a stop sign to save few extra minutes, forgetting to use traffic signals, overlooking construction detours and speed signs, or not using a hands-free cell phone device. With the heat, hustle and bustle of our busy schedules or fatigue, it’s often easy for drivers to forget or ignore the rules of the road.

During summer when school’s out, it’s even more important to re-think our habits behind the wheel. So, please slow down through construction zones and remember to be a careful driver by looking out for little ones, or better yet, leave the driving to our bus drivers and hop on viva for a more relaxed travel experience.

From our vivaNext family to yours, we wish you a safe and happy summer!


Transit focused Markham Centre picked for York U expansion

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Transit focused Markham Centre picked for York U expansion

York University, a globally recognized research centre, recently announced that it had chosen Markham Centre as the preferred location in its bid to build a new satellite campus in York Region. York Region is one of Ontario’s fastest-growing major urban areas, and with a current population of more than 1.1 million, is the only municipality of its size in North America with no university campus.

The City of Markham was selected based on its ability to demonstrate alignment with 10 core principals including, having a campus within an urban centre, easily accessible across the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area, transit oriented development, use of public infrastructure and strong local partners.

This achievement shows how York Region’s Centres and Corridors strategy, of which vivaNext is a key part, is already resulting in important economic development benefits for our region. It’s more proof that its long term, visionary planning framework will channel new jobs, housing and shopping within the newly urbanized centre in Markham.

As Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti said in their news release, one of the reasons the Markham Centre location was chosen, in addition to all its “incredible amenities,” is that Markham has a reputation for having bold initiatives. The Mayor also pointed to the city’s efforts in attracting major businesses such as Enbridge, Honda and Aviva as well as attracting the Pan Am games to the city.

The timing of York University’s announcement could not have been better. Transit, parkland and local secondary plans are currently underway. The city can fully integrate a university within the new downtown urban fabric.

York Region’s vivaNext rapidway project along Highway 7 is in the last final stages with bus lanes set to open by the end of the year. Additional Bus Rapid Transit is planned for Markham Centre along Enterprise Drive to Unionville Go Terminal, scheduled to be completed in 2019, making this area truly the model of live, work, shop, play and now get educated!


everything at your doorstep

Thursday, 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

Tuesday, 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

Thursday, 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

Tuesday, 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

Thursday, 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

Tuesday, 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.