Don Mills Mall Redevelopment Creates Urban Space

By Ben Bull
Published April 16, 2009

Toronto's first suburb is becoming ... un-suburban.

According to the Star's Christopher Hume, Cadillac Fairview's latest mall, in Toronto's Don Mills neighbourhood, incorporates mixed uses, infill, people-scaled development, and stacked parking.

Doesn't sound much like a mall, does it?

The development opens this Wednesday. If it lives up to the hype, perhaps it will give Hamilton's Centre Mall planners something to think about.

Ben Bull lives in downtown Toronto. He's been working on a book of short stories for about 10 years now and hopes to be finished tomorrow. He also has a movie blog.


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By walkablecity (anonymous) | Posted April 16, 2009 at 16:03:51

Lifestyle Centre?

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted April 16, 2009 at 17:32:02

"perhaps it will give Hamilton's Centre Mall planners something to think about."

Well, it would have been nice if they had thought about it, but it's too late now, apparently. Was down there last night to find Zeller's. Haven't cheered up yet. Can't imagine heading down there on foot with a 5 and a 7 year-old by the hand if the way people drive at the Meadowlands is any indication-- too hair raising.

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By Too Bad (anonymous) | Posted April 27, 2009 at 13:26:16

Don Mills Ctr now open (kinda) <--- photos

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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted April 27, 2009 at 15:25:50

Thanks for the link to the pics Too Bad

The comments below the pics (I've copied some of them below) seem to sum up the development nicely. The feedback seems to be:

  • The mall appears to have a nice walkability feel to it, the car parking is scaled nicely, 'street' front facing retail and tree planting makes for pleasant strolling; however, it appears that Lawrence Ave is ignored (shops turn their backs to the street)
  • Lack of integration into the urban core, especially wrt transit, is a disappointment. Yet again we have a retail cluster we need to drive to…
  • Overall it appears to be a cross between a power center and a downtown. It's a definite improvement on what we're used to.


  • "This is my first-ever glimpse of the Shops, and I thought that it was somewhat of a refreshing experience. Like I had expected, it feels like a hybrid between the the power centre (shops in lowrise buildings), a high-end mall like Yorkdale, and Cornell-style new urbanism.

Unfortunately for us urbanists, it seems like the overwhelming majority of visitors today came by car. There is a parking garage at the Shops, and the old parking lot facing Don Mills is still in use. Add to the fact that there's plenty of parking spots on the shopping streets, and the Shops looks quite car-friendly. The bus stops on Lawrence or on Don Mills don't look any busier with the opening of the Shops. The Shops provide plenty of bike rings, but none were being used. The good thing is that everybody is forced to walk around outside after they have parked their cars.

I was not impressed at all at the treatment of the Shops facing Lawrence. Except the LCBO on the NW corner of the complex, there are no store entrances facing Lawrence (there is a ramp that leads to the RBC branch). With the parking lot still separating the Shops from Don Mills Road, the Shops is very much disconnected from the surrounding community.

The Shops seems to make a lot of effort to look like the rest of Toronto. The street signs are virtual copies of the new City of Toronto street signs. The garbage bins are modeled after an earlier version of City garbage bins. The lack of spectacular street furniture at the Shops is very Toronto-like. In that I'm also not impressed.

As a brand new shopping experience I think the Shops has much to offer. As a study in urban design I think the Shops still needs a lot of improvement. However I think that this is a nice start."

"One can compare it to a similar smaller development around Vaghn Mills. Overall though all I'm really liking is the new public square along with the water fountain. What really hurts this project is as you mentioned the treatment of the shops fronting the main arteries. I think that's the problem with all these developments - they make themselves impossible to integrate with the rest of the community. Instead, the idea is to create an urban oasis so to speak which doesn't take into account it's surroundings (current or future) although does attempt to create a more urban feel inside which ends up being isolated."

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