In the 1994 Federal Budget, the Government of Canada called for the closure of Canadian Forces Base Toronto, a 644 acre military base located at Downsview in the City of Toronto. The Government also announced the mandate for the Downsview Lands stating that “the existing DND-owned lands associated with the Downsview site would be held in perpetuity and in trust primarily as a unique urban recreational greenspace for the enjoyment of future generations.”
In March 1994, a Downsview Task Force sub-committee was created by the Greater Toronto Area Caucus to develop a framework plan for the Downsview Lands. In 1995, the Downsview Framework and a number of planning principles were announced to guide the development of the site which included that the Downsview Lands must be self-financing.
With the closure of the base, the Government of Canada directed the Canada Lands Company CLC Limited (CLC), a non-agent Crown corporation, to manage the initial planning and development process for the Downsview Lands. In 1996, CLC embarked on a public planning and public consultation process to develop a concept plan for the Lands that would realize the Government’s mandate of creating a park at Downsview. As part of this process, CLC participated in the City of Toronto’s Secondary Plan study, encompassing 1200 acres of land in the Downsview area including the Downsview Park site. In 1998 the Downsview Secondary Plan (Official Plan Amendment 464) was approved by the City of Toronto and ratified by the Ontario Municipal Board in 1999.
In July 1998, CLC Downsview Inc., later renamed Parc Downsview Park Inc. (PDP) was incorporated as a subsidiary of Canada Lands Company Ltd. to take responsibility for the ongoing development and management of the Downsview Lands. In February 1999, a twelve-member Board of Directors was appointed and PDP formally assumed responsibility for the Downsview Lands.
One of the first initiatives undertaken by PDP was the Downsview Park International Design Competition. The objective of the competition, which commenced in the summer of 1999, was to create a schematic design for the Park that would realize the vision for Downsview Park.
These lands represent one of the largest urban redevelopment projects in Canada. Since 1996 significant progress has been made to create a unique urban recreational greenspace at Downsview, however the development of Downsview Park is a long-term project and plans for the lands will continually evolve.