Back in 1999, the City of Vaughan made an agreement to have a Sports Village Complex developed on 1.9 acres at Rutherford Road/Melville Avenue. This plan includes several state-of-the-art amenities and is going to bring some big changes to Vaughan.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down and have lunch with the developer, Tony Furiato of The Mentana Group, to get a real glimpse into his mind and some of his thinking behind his incredible vision for the future.
In the beginning, I wasn’t so sure of the proposal myself, but after learning more about it, I think this is a huge opportunity for our city and a real opportunity to put Vaughan on the map!
The first time I heard about the “proposal” for the Sports Village expansion was in January 2019 when a letter was delivered to my door. I attended the focus group meeting that was held, and I will admit that I walked out halfway through. Although there were some informational posters put up, I felt that it was not really explained what the development was about, and there wasn’t any dialogue about it.
I did notice a lot of seniors in attendance—Villa Giardino is adjacent to the Sports Village—and I had my own interpretation of what was going on there. All I could think about was a private school that houses 750 students, and a “stadium” of 5,000 seats. It freaked me out a bit, and I felt really concerned about congestion. How are we going to move around in this area now? We’re already tucked away in between Wonderland to the west, Vaughan Mills to the southwest, and the new hospital to the north. How much more traffic can we really take in this area?
But once this project was explained to me via a telephone conversation and then with a 3-hour discussion in person with Tony Furiato, I realized it is so much more than that. The development is a vision that has Vaughan leading the way for our future generations with state-of-the-art facilities for technology, the arts, science, sports, and I could go on and on.
What an opportunity for Vaughan residents! We need to offer more than Wonderland, a hospital, and Vaughan Mills to our future kids.
The puzzling part to all this is why this hasn’t been something that our MPP has been talking about. Why don’t our area residents know all the facts? Isn’t it our duty, as citizens, members of parliament, to relay the truth about developments? How can this be such a discouraging thing in our neighbourhood when we are putting forth positive and technology changing venues for our residents?
Take a few minutes to read all that is included in this major development, and if you have any thoughts, concerns, or questions, I’d love to hear what you think about it!
You can read all about the expansion proposals at SportsVillage.ca, and even take a tour of a mockup of the entire property in this video:
Below, I’ve also shared information that the developer Tony Furiato provided me:
Summary of the Proposed Features
The new Berkeley Academy & Entertainment Centre at the Sports Village will feature an unparalleled Community Hub accessible to the public.
The elite Academy will offer students:
- Visual and performing arts
- Advanced dance
- Music (vocal/composition/choir/band)
- Digital media technologies
- Podcast booths
- Photography studios
- a horticultural program and rooftop gardening
- Elite science programs/labs and internships
- Performance theatre (with Black Box design)
- World-class courtyard (with a tiered noise attenuation design)
- A Workshare space
- Innovation Hub for startups and incubation
- Analytics-driven strength and conditioning centre of influence and Advanced Physio/Rehab Therapy Clinic
- Wellness and elite athletics program (multi sports including hockey, soccer, baseball, basketball, football, cricket, rugby, tennis,track & field, gymnastics and more)
- Event and sports centre for up to 5,000 spectators
- 12 to 1 student:teacher ratio.
All of these special purpose programs above are available to the Community through City programs or through City programs delivered by Berkeley Academy
The Sports Village park will stay as is in perpetuity!! Only 1.9 acres of the 36 acres will be used to complete the expansion. It will just become an enhanced park with better fields for more sports, the exceptional new Academy, and an event venue for charity, heritage/cultural and mid market concerts, trade shows, speaking tours (Tony Robbins, etc), productions and other events for spectators.
An intuitive AI (artificial intelligence) based advanced parking system will be included, and all systems will make this innovative expansion an energy neutral, AI powered facility with PaveGen technology which produces energy as you walk for common spaces.
In addition to all of this, here are a few more important highlights and benefits of the development:
- The programs featured above and the special purpose rooms that will be used by the community
- Research that will be conducted with industry and students for the hospital and in partnership with the federal and provincial government agencies and departments
- Physiotherapy, Rehab Clinic, and massage therapy available to the community all day
- Workshare space for the community who work from home or for students with added resource facilities and organic cafe
- Organic rooftop garden and natural teaching kitchen with rooftop cafe (partnering with Vaughan Foodbank for the food insecure community)
- Symphonic presentations in the Berkeley Courtyard as well as public school graduation ceremonies
- Enhanced landscaped walking paths with soft ambient music
- Morning Tai Chi exercises in the courtyard
- Cultural and heritage music concerts in the event venue
- Active rooftop walking track with ambient heating in winter
- Innovation Hub for curating community startups and robotics and AI room with 3D printing for prototypes
- Podcast booths for community youth/adults to showcase their creative ideas
- Energy neutral facility
- Organic material palette for seamless architecture (stone, wood, glass for integration into the community and natural environment
- Multipurpose field and tennis/basketball/beach volleyball courts and more will be enhanced
Below, the developer Tony Furiato has also addressed several community concerns:
- Parking overflow onto neighboring streets. There is no history of this happening and we have parking solutions for parking compliance.
- Increased traffic. (No evidence that our expansion will increase traffic more than our existing tournaments which have over 5,000 to 10,000 visitors already. Traffic studies will demonstrate that fact.) That doesn’t mean that the region and municipality doesn’t have plans to address the existing heavy truck issue on Melville. We are also concerned about traffic; we have enormous traffic pressure from non-sports Village customers cutting through the property and making significant damage.
- Selling parkland. There will be no dedicated parkland included in the sale agreement that conveyed parkland to the West Maplecreek Community (community north of the Village).
- Property values will decrease. There is no study or evidence that supports this. However, there are plenty of studies and reports that say the opposite. We have also conducted our own study using OREA software that demonstrates that properties next to or near elite private schools are significantly higher in value. These are available for anyone.
- Noise. It’s inconceivable that someone would actually compare or claim to compare the current or expanded use of the Village with the already overwhelming and dominating noise of the CN pull-back track which is as close as 150m to approx 250 meters away that happens every day and night. We have and will continue to respect and follow the noise by-laws.
- Removing/developing the park. Only 1.9 acres of the 36 acres will be expanded. All the park space will remain and be enhanced with exciting new features.
I’d love to hear what you think about the development! Join the conversation on my Facebook Page, or give me a call for a chat.