York Mills, Toronto
York Mills is the name of an affluent neighbourhood around Yonge Street and York Mills Road located in the district of North York in the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In 2010, it encompassed the 4th and 7th most affluent postal codes in Canada. Part of the area is also known as Hoggs Hollow, named for James Hogg, a Scottish settler who settled in the area in 1824 and operated the mill on Yonge Street at the Don River north of the Town of York (now Toronto), by his sons John and William in 1856. Another portion is named St. Andrew-Windfields. St. Andrew-Windfields most famous resident was the popular Canadian Philanthropist E. P. Taylor who left Canada towards the latter years of his life and donated Parkland (now Windfields Park) and his mansion (now the Canadian Film Centre).
The area name is linked to saw and grist mills that dotted the Don River, which flows through York Mills. The Town of York Mills became part of the Township of North York. North York later became a borough, and then a city, and was merged with five other municipalities and a regional government to form the new "City of Toronto" in 1998. The area was the site of a tragic accident on March 17, 1960, when five Italian construction workers on a water main project were killed in a tunnel fire. As well, the area once linked by radial railways and Highway 11, now can be reached via Highway 401, GO Transit, and Toronto Transit Commission buses and York Mills station on the Yonge-University Spadina subway line. Today, the area is home to luxury condos and high end homes.
From Yonge Street eastward, the roads slope upward but plateau as they reach Bayview Avenue. The natural environment is also highly integrated into the neighbourhood, with development seeming to build around it. The presence of greenery is a protected and distinguishable feature of York Mills.
South of York Mills Road and Yonge Street sits the sub-neighbourhood of Hoggs Hollow. Houses in this residential area are embedded into the natural landscape, which ascends southward. The directional slope and other natural features serve as identifiable landmarks, edges, and paths, making this area highly legible in terms of a Lynchian analysis. The area has more community-oriented characteristics that make it distinct from the rest of York Mills. Most notably, residents manage a community board located in the centre of this sub-neighbourhood. As York Mills is a mainly residential neighbourhood, commercial activity occurs strictly at intersections of major arterials. At Yonge Street and York Mills Road, the tallest commercial building in the neighbourhood, York Mills Centre, holds large office and retail spaces, occupied most notably by the human resources services supplier, Randstad Interim. The York Mills Shopping Centre at the intersection of York Mills Road and Bayview Avenue, provides local groceries through the Metro supermarket, Shoppers Drug Mart, and local meat shop. It is set back from the roads by a large parking lot, consistent with the neighbourhoods dependency on automobiles.
Along York Mills Road in between major intersections, there are only single detached houses. The pedestrian paths are very close to roads. Residential area here leaves no space for any commercial opportunities, thus commercial nodes are only available at the intersection of major arterial roads. There is very little public space. Properly maintained parks are often playgrounds for children. Actual parks do not properly serve the public as well with its lack of seating and walkways, which discourages overall usage. Free parking compared to the high hourly rates of the rest of Toronto points to space in York Mills as being an inexpensive commodity, yet there is very little space actually available for development. The current Official Plan does not provide for the anticipation of future development.
As a result of the built environment, large lots, and sprawled out nodes of commercial activity, the neighbourhood is highly reliant on the automobile for everyday activities, with approximately two thirds of the York Mills population using it as a primary mode of transportation. Having Highway 401 in such close proximity adds to the benefits of owning a car, as the degree of mobility to the rest of Toronto greatly increases. Public transit is reported to be less than a quarter of the populations’ primary method of commute. Pedestrian paths are not a priority and poorly maintained by the city. Deeper in the residential areas, pedestrian walkways are often only found on one side of the road. As much of the land surrounding the major arterials are claimed by private residences, there is no room to develop along pedestrian paths and make walking a more appealing option. The combined effect of this lack of appeal, poor infrastructural maintenance, and extended distance in between points of interests justify the populations’ avoidance of walking, with a mere three percent of the population claim walking as their primary mode of commute. York Mills is an example of a neighbourhood stuck within the cycle of auto-dependency.
Houses in York Mills are highly distinguishable and contribute greatly to the proclaimed affluence of the neighbourhood. 50% of occupied dwellings are single detached houses. Many have been rebuilt and customized to taste, with heavily renovated front yards. In between 2001 to 2006, property values have increased by 47.6%. The second type of most occupied dwelling is apartments reaching five or more storeys, inhabited by 28% of the population.
Information and images courtesy of wikipedia.org
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