The uneven success of nodes

Four nodes stand out by the extent of their growth: the Yonge-Eglinton node in the inner city, and North York Centre, Scarborough Town Centre, and Mississauga City Centre in the suburbs. But these are not the only existing nodes. In the inner city, the Yonge-St. Clair node has achieved a measure of success, as have Bramalea Centre and Pickering Centre in the suburbs. And Markham Centre, another suburban node, is currently under development. Still, many planned nodes have yet to see any growth at all.

What circumstances contributed to the development of the four most successful nodes? Yonge-Eglinton and North York Centre were both developed on a subway line. A new station was built on the Yonge Line to serve North York Centre. Scarborough Town Centre benefited from the construction of a light rail transit line linking it to the subway line. Mississauga City Centre is the only one without rail transit, although it does contain the City of Mississauga bus terminal. Two suburban nodes -- Scarborough Town Centre and Mississauga City Centre -- developed around a pre-existing regional mall, erected in both instances in 1973 and subsequently expanded.

These nodes were also the sites of important public-sector investments: office buildings (including in the three suburban cases, a city hall) and in two of the nodes, a library, a theatre, and a public square. Good public transit access, public-sector investments, and the presence of a regional mall acted as catalysts for office and residential development. One can also add zoning by-laws that encouraged high-density development.

Generally, the nodes that failed to materialize lacked these conditions for development. Many such nodes existed only as planning designations deprived of adequate public transit access and of supportive public-sector investments. One can only conclude that these designations rested on the hope that appropriate development would occur at some point in the future.