Residents hope to rid Thornlea of industry
Calls to rezone former factory site for residential or mixed use
The former site of Canac Kitchens is a key hurdle for the revitalization effort
After years of frustration, an initiative fuelled by fed-up residents may soon help steer the Thornhill neighbourhood of Thornlea’s character away from industry and toward a more desired mix of commerce and homes.
City of Markham staff and working group reports will be presented to Markham City Council regarding the ongoing Thornhill Revitalization Study, which aims to guide future decisions regarding zoning and development. The study was proposed when residents in the area grew tired of facing noise and fumes from nearby light industrial businesses, including furniture maker Raywal Kitchens and now-closed Canac Kitchens.
Ken Davey, a resident of Holm Crescent, which backs onto the Raywal site, said he does not mind light industry in the area as long as it is a “good neighbour” and does not pollute the community. However, he said he feels pure residential would be ideal. Neighbour Stan Kwiec said that industry does not belong in the neighbourhood, but getting rid of it entirely may be a tough sell.
“As a town, we have got to have sources of income as well,” he said. “But if it is rezoning such that it can be a mix of residential and some small businesses — non-manufacturing businesses — I think it would work very nicely.”
Some light industrial sites in the area are zoned to boost employment, something Ward 2 councillor Howard Shore, who chaired the Thornhill Area Revitalization working group, called a “policy hurdle from the province.” The Canac site, for example, is zoned for 500 to 600 jobs that the city would have to replace elsewhere or shift to nearby municipalities.
“Converting from employment use to entirely residential would eliminate the possibility of regaining those jobs,” Shore said. “Somebody who wants to see the whole of the Canac site be entirely residential, our planners will absolutely oppose that.”
He expects that the working group and staff reports to be released in October will both propose to support mixed-use residential and commercial zoning in the area, with few divergences.