Discussions around development of the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC) at Jane Street and Highway 7 began around 1992. Some only saw it as an employment and tax-revenue project, and proposed the site to include office development, with some retail and light-industry components and known as the Vaughan Corporate Centre (VCC).
As Councillor, Mario argued forcefully that only by including residential components would the project become a ‘People Centre’, thus now known as the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre. Mario believed that residential density would bring tremendous benefits to the area; it would attract businesses to serve residents’ needs and also of those people who made it a destination for shopping and entertainment. Furthermore, it would also make extending the subway to the City economically viable, which in turn, would make the area more attractive to residents because of ready access to transit.
Mario led the charge to freeze some of the property development in the immediate area until the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre could be planned appropriately. In early 2000, after much push back from developers who would have preferred big-box retail stores, Mario’s argument won out.
The Vaughan Metropolitan Centre is on its way to being one of Canada’s best master-planned communities, complemented by a modern transit system offering residents and businesses with connections through the Toronto Transit Commission’s (TTC) Line 1 Extension, the new Viva Bus Rapid way along Highway 7 and the new SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal which will complete the final addition to the transit hub at the VMC.
Mario’s long-term vision is paying off. The housing and urban amenities are being leveraged by top employers to attract talents. Those employers include KPMG’s 15-storey Tower at SmartCentres Place which has located more than 600 staff into VMC’s first office building. Other tenants include Miller Thomson, GFL Environmental Inc. and Harley-Davidson Canada. As well, a further office building is being constructed currently which will locate the YMCA, as well as some City of Vaughan’s community and library spaces, along with new office space for Price Waterhouse.