canary district park

Fifteen years ago, many Torontonians were skeptical that a derelict chunk of land in Toronto’s downtown east would eventually become one of the largest master-planned communities the city has ever seen.

We are, of course, referring to the Canary District in the West Don Lands, a new mixed-use community that will soon house more than 10,000 athletes for the 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games before becoming a permanent residential development.

“As important as it is for the athletes to be here, this community will be around for the next 50 years plus,” said Jason Lester, President of Dundee Kilmer Developments. “We didn’t want to make any compromises.”

After breaking ground in January 2012, Dundee Kilmer Developments Limited and Waterfront Toronto have managed to stay on schedule, despite the city’s unprecedented cold weather. Construction is already 75 per cent complete and the final crane was removed last week, marking a moment of triumph for both developers.

“Two years ago, we had one of the warmest winters on record. That really helped us get ahead of schedule,” he said.

Since the development will be closed in by the end of next month — including the windows, glazing and brickwork — Lester says the entire project will be complete well before the games begin in summer 2015. This is when TO2015 will take the reins to outfit the district for the games.

With the thoughtfully-planned community nearing completion, and anticipation for the games building by the day, many are curious about how drastically the community will transform once the games reach the finish line.

canary district

While the exterior of each structure will remain the same, such as the Canary District Condos building displayed above, the interior of each will be renovated once the athletes leave. Each suite will then be equipped with fresh features — like kitchen cabinets and new flooring — before future tenants move in.

And aside from the specific finishes, the Canary District will possess its own distinct feel that’s separate from any other development in the city.

“When you think about some other great cities in the world, like New York City, you go from Broadway to the Flatiron District to Chelsea,” Lester said. “Toronto has this too, but if we do it right, the Canary District will have its own unique character that’s very distinct from Corktown and the Distillery District.”

He goes on, explaining how the district’s Front Street promenade (pictured below) will be much wider than your typical Toronto walkway, similar to what you’d see in a thriving European city. In addition, the balance between the parks and non-park land will be one of the highest in Toronto, and the entire community will be LEED Gold certified.

front street promenade 2

The future retail shops will also speak to the holistic and inviting vibe of the community. Similar to the Distillery District, Dundee Kilmer plans to bring in authentic tenants that will inject the area with colour and culture, versus a row of standard brand name stores.

In addition to an 82,000 square foot YMCA, the base of each residential unit will be lined with a variety of retail shops and cafes that focus on well-being (think bike store, yoga room and running room).

“You have a bunch of individual entrepreneurs that people can identify with health and wellness,” Lester said. “Not only will it serve the immediate neighbourhood, but it will be a destination among itself.”

The tenants will be announced later this spring, so stayed tuned for more updates. Aside from retailers, the community will also house Canary Park Condos, a cluster of townhomes and loft units, 254 affordable housing units and a 175,000 square foot campus residence for George Brown College.

Sales for available units start in the mid $200,000s and suites range in size from 405 to 1,475 square feet.

Occupancy is expected to commence in 2016. For more information call 416 603 7576 or email

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