Municipality: City of Markham Implementation: 0000-00-00
Policy Name: Markham Centre Performance Measures Contact: Richard Kendall
Department: Planning and Urban Design Title: Manager of Development, Central District
Community profile:

Markham is the largest of nine communities in York Region with a population of over 310,000, and a land area of 212 square kilometres.  Markham is a blend of four communities – Markham Village, Unionville, Milliken and Thornhill, located on the northern boundary of the City of Toronto.  Markham, strategically located in the heart of the Greater Toronto Area, is one of the fastest growing municipalities in Ontario with over 3,000 new dwelling units constructed in 2011. 


Markham features prestigious housing developments and businesses; quality schools; three world class cultural venues – Varley Art Gallery, Markham Museum and Flato Markham Theatre; numerous parks, recreational and leisure areas and facilities. Markham is the home of Seneca College, a premier post-secondary educational research and training facility.  More than 400 corporate head offices and close to 900 high technology and life sciences companies are located in Markham. These two sectors generate a total employment of close to 38,000, or about one quarter of the total employment of 136,000.


Short Description:

A framework to ensure the development community employs Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) standards.


Markham Centre is a live-work, transit-friendly community employing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) standards, and is located within Markham’s existing urban boundary. The Markham Centre Performance Measures document articulates the kind of community that Markham residents and businesses value – including their desires for the environment, open spaces, build form, green infrastructure and transportation. It serves as a framework to ensure the development community delivers on these values.


Since the adoption of the Performance Measures in 2003, the Markham Centre Advisory has been instrumental in assisting staff in the processing of development applications and providing input on key strategic initiatives in Markham Centre.  As part of their continued involvement in the evolution of Markham Centre, a working group of Advisory members was formed in 2007 to assist in revising and updating the Performance Measures Document to incorporate appropriate LEED® cross-references. 


Step by Step Process:

Based on the principles of new urbanism and sustainable growth, Markham Centre provides a central focus and future gathering place for Markham residents and businesses.  The vision for Markham Centre was built on the recommendations and input gathered from an extensive public consultation process that began in 1992 through to the present.  Through this process, Markham residents expressed their desire to embody Smart Growth Goals (strong communities, a strong economy and a clean, healthy environment) in an innovative new downtown bordered by Highway 407 on the south, Highway 7 and the Markham Civic Centre on the north, Kennedy Road on the east and Rodick Road on the west.




Markham Centre is consistent with the Provincial and Regional growth management initiatives, having been identified as an Urban Growth Centre in the Provincial Growth Plan and as a Regional Centre as part of York  Region’s “Centre’s and Corridors” strategy.  Markham Centre is being developed on the principles of balanced live/work opportunities, compact urban form, natural heritage protection, transit-supportive development and housing choice.




Markham Centre will have a distinctly urban character, with higher density, mixed-use developments, strong streetscapes, parks and public amenities.  It will encompass standards for sustainable communities by ensuring the following goals are met:



  • Celebrate Markham’s community values;
  • Enhance Markham’s quality of life;
  • Be sustainable for future generations;
  • Protect and enhance the natural environment;
  • Build upon transit initiatives and existing infrastructure;
  • Enhance the economic vitality of the Markham community; and,
  • Provide a central location for arts, cultural and social activities on a year-round basis.




Approved by the Ontario Municipal Board in 1997, the Markham Centre Secondary Plan (OPA 21) laid out a strong planning foundation.  Some of the key essentials OPA 21 addresses are:



  • Protecting the natural environment;
  • Building a supportive public transit infrastructure;
  • Promoting a mixed-use, high quality and compact urban form; and,
  • Setting targets for population and employment land and providing for a range of parks, public squares and community amenities.



The Vision for Markham Centre is also based on 11 Guiding Principles that were developed to ensure that Markham Centre delivers a vibrant, family-oriented, people place with pedestrian-friendly streets, high quality parks and buildings.  Markham Council adopted ten Guiding Principles in early 2002 to provide clarity and direction to the vision for Markham Centre.  An 11th Guiding Principle was adopted by Council on April 1, 2003 to highlight the value placed on quality of life for residents and communities not only within and adjacent to Markham Centre, but also throughout Markham.  The principles were embodied in OPA 21. 


From these Guiding Principles the Performance Measures weredeveloped by the Markham Centre Advisory to further articulate the objectives for Markham Centre and provide a clear direction of expectations for development. The Advisory works with Markham staff to ensure that implementation plans for Markham Centre adhere to these principles.


The role of the Markham Centre Advisory is to assist Markham in reviewing and confirming the principles and objectives of the Markham Centre Secondary Plan and developing and evaluating the performance of the implementation measures to realize Markham’s vision for Markham Centre.  The Markham Centre Advisory consists of representation from throughout Markham and includes various municipality-wide interest groups, residents and businesses, as well as representation from local area stakeholders.


Primary Drivers:

Key to the development of Markham Centre and the Performance Measures was the adoption of the Secondary Plan (OPA 21) in 1994. Subsequently, the Markham Centre Advisory was established, who developed the Performance Measures, and assisted with the Guiding Principles document to reflect community goals and values for the development of a new downtown for Markham.  The Markham Centre Advisory continues to play an active role assisting Markham in reviewing and confirming the principles and objectives of Markham Centre and developing and evaluating the performance of the implementation measures to realize Markham’s vision for Markham Centre. 


Secondary Drivers:

The opening of Markham District Energy’s first plant in Markham Centre in 2000 further provided opportunities for development in Markham Centre to coalesce around, and assist in, implementing a sustainability agenda.  Greater awareness and acceptance of programmes such as LEED® also assists the implementation of the Markham’s vision for Markham Centre.



Markham Council has been very supportive of Markham Centre and shown leadership in extending the sustainability and intensification agenda within Markham Centre and across Markham.




Getting private residential developers to accept Markham District Energy as a viable and reliable provider for heating and cooling and associated LEED® credit implications



Potential marketing opportunities based on sustainable measures incorporated into individual projects


Since its adoption, the Markham Centre Advisory has been using the Performance Measures document to review and evaluate development applications.  This input has been instrumental in ensuring that Markham remains on course and on target in delivering Markham Centre in accordance with Markham’s and the  community’s goals and expectations, using the highest quality standards and best-practice models. 



The Performance Measures, which are now correlated with Canada Green Building Council’s LEED® New Construction and Major Renovations, Version 1.0 plus anticipated correlations with CaGBC LEED® Neighbourhood Development, Version 1.0, are designed to be a dynamic part of the living legacy for future generations.  The Performance Measures and the results are monitored and will be updated, as required, to reflect new technologies and best practices.  Markham continues to involve its citizens in creating sustainable development and demonstrating its long-term commitment to a progressive, sustainable urban downtown community.  To-date, all significant projects are connected to Markham District Energy and LEED® accreditation plays a major role in new developments.

Further Information:

The Markham Centre Performance Measures document is available from Markham’s website –