Planning Studies & Initiatives

McCowan Precinct Plan Study

Mc Cowan Precinct Plan
Over the past few decades, Scarborough Centre has grown from vacant land into an urban hub with a mix of land uses and public amenities. Following the completion of the Scarborough Centre Secondary Plan, more detailed planning work is being undertaken for its four component sub-precincts. The McCowan Precinct, an area with significant population and employment redevelopment potential, constitutes the eastern portion of the Scarborough Centre Secondary Plan.

After a two-year study process involving extensive community and landowner involvement, Council approved the McCowan Precinct Plan in June 2014. Council also adopted accompanying urban design guidelines and a conceptual master plan.

The Plan’s vision includes: a finer-grained street network to promote comprehensive redevelopment, a ‘promenade’ design linking the Civic and McCowan Precincts along Town Centre Court and Bushby Drive, and a hierarchy of public streets with streetscape and cycling infrastructure improvements.

The McCowan Precinct Plan will inform future redevelopment in the area, managing growth while identifying needs and opportunities for improving the public and private realm, parks, transportation, and community and social services. The Precinct Plan, together with future transit infrastructure investment, will help transform the area into a vibrant, complete community.




Study Purpose

The purpose of the McCowan Precinct Plan Study is to develop a "Precinct Plan" for the McCowan area of the Scarborough Centre. This Precinct Plan would further articulate the policies of the Official Plan (including the Scarborough Centre Secondary Plan), as well as develop a framework to guide future growth and development of the McCowan Precinct. The Precinct Plan is intended to provide implementation and policy changes to:

  • inform, evaluate and shape future redevelopment in the area
  • guide change and manage growth
  • identify necessary public and private realm improvements
  • identify needs and opportunities for improvements to parks, transportation and community and social services
  • strengthen the employment base within the precinct
  • direct infrastructure investment
  • provide a foundation for the preparation of any policy and zoning by-law amendments for the McCowan Precinct to manage future development.



At its meeting of June 13, 2014, City Council considered and approved a final report on the McCowan Precinct Plan Study.The report recommended the adoption of Official Plan Amendment No. 242 to add "Site and Area Specific Policy No. 9" to the Scarborough Centre Secondary Plan (which forms a part of the Toronto Official Plan) for the McCowan Precinct. OPA No. 242 was adopted by City Council. It establishes a development framework and design strategies for the future residential and employment development of lands within the McCowan Precinct.  It serves as a guide for the provision of community services, facilities, parks and open spaces and public realm improvements and enhancements for the Precinct. Site and Area Specific Policy No. 9 includes a Vision Statement and Guiding Principles for the McCowan Precinct.

OPA 242 has been appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board.

At its meeting of June 13, 2014, City Council also adopted the McCowan Precinct Urban Design Guidelines including the McCowan Conceptual Master Plan.  Together, OPA 242, the McCowan Precinct Urban Design Guidelines and the McCowan Precinct Conceptual Master Plan for the "McCowan Precinct Plan".  In adopting this Plan, City Council, in addition to applying the policies of the Official Plan, directed staff to "use the McCowan Precinct Urban Design Guidelines including the McCowan Conceptual Master Plan in the evaluation of all new and current development proposals and public initiatives.

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Scarborough CentreSince the time of the first secondary plan for the Scarborough Centre (formerly the City Centre Secondary Plan) in 1968, the Centre has grown from a vacant land area to an urban centre. The current Scarborough Centre Secondary Plan, adopted by Council in December 2005, establishes a vision and strategic implementation policies for the Centre. 

Scarborough Centre is one of four designated Centres in the City of Toronto as shown on the Urban Structure Map (Map 2) of the Toronto Official Plan. The Official Pan describes the Scarborough Centre as an important mix of retail, government, institutional, cultural, employment and residential uses at the core of an established employment corridor along Highway 401.

The Secondary Plan recognizes that the Centre is a large geographical area in which several development areas have emerged, each with a somewhat different character. To enable detailed planning for the Centre, provide for appropriate growth management strategies, and to realize specific employment, housing, recreation, entertainment and community services and facilities objectives, the implementation policies for the Centre. The Plan also sets out broad goals for the future development of the Scarborough Centre.

Scarborough Centre Secondary Plan divides the Centre into four land use precincts, including the McCowan Precinct.

The Scarborough Centre Secondary Plan contemplates the development of detailed "Precinct Plans" for each of the four precincts. A Precinct Plan is a policy document endorsed by Council which further articulates the policies of the Official Plan (and the Secondary Plans) for specific areas of the City.

It outlines specific development principles and guidelines at a level of detail not possible within the broader Official Plan. These principles and guidelines create the bridge between Official Plan policies and zoning by-law provisions and standards. In keeping with the intent of the Scarborough Centre Secondary Plan to develop detailed implementation plans for each precinct, Scarborough District Community Planning staff have initiated the McCowan Precinct Plan Study.

The McCowan Precinct Plan Study was announced in an information report to Scarborough Community Council on June 2, 2011.

The study is targeted to be completed in early 2014. A final report will be brought forward to Scarborough Community Council providing details of study findings and recommended implementation actions, which may include amendments to the Official Plan, Scarborough Centre Secondary Plan and implementing zoning.

City Planning staff will be holding a number of community meetings, working group sessions and a design charrette over the course of the study. A larger format community consultation meeting kicked off the study in September 2011, and a second such meeting will take place in fall of 2013 to provide an opportunity for community input on draft study recommendations.

Community Meeting #1- Introduction to the McCowan Precinct Plan Study

The first Community Working Group Meeting took place on October 12, 2011. This meeting provided detailed background information on the McCowan Precinct, to assist Working Group members in beginning to develop guiding principles for the McCowan Precinct Plan Study. Discussion centred on area economic characteristics, a demographic profile of residents and workers and a land use overview of the McCowan Precinct and the Scarborough Centre.

Community Working Group Meeting #1

Community Working Group Meeting #2 - Movement

The McCowan Precinct Plan Study's second Working Group meeting on November 16, 2011 focussed on "movement" within the Precinct. Information on transportation planning, cycling infrastructure and traffic operations was provided to assist Working Group members in considering what improvements to transportation infrastructure in the Precinct would be desirable.

Community Working Group Meeting #2

Working Group members prepared two concepts identifying priority improvements to the vehicular, transit and non-motorized transportation infrastructure in the Precinct. Key improvements included new local road connections through existing large blocks in the Precinct, improved off-road trail infrastructure potentially along the East Highland Creek, increasing connectivity between the Precinct and surrounding areas, and improved visual interest and pedestrian services along existing and future streets.

Movement Working Group Concept 1
Movement Working Group Concept 2


Community Working Group Meeting #3 - Building Communities

The Community Working Group met once again on December 14, 2011, discussing a range of topics related to the theme of "building communities". Information on Community Services and Facilities, Parks, Public Art, the Scarborough Centre Civic Precinct Implementation Plan and Urban Design was presented.

Community Working Group Meeting #3

Discussion centred on the working group's strong interest to have a large community park in the Precinct, as well as other community priorities including incorporation of public art into future development within the Precinct.

In addition, the Community Working Group undertook an exercise to refine the vision for the McCowan Precinct Plan area, with guiding principles for the three focus areas of "movement", "building communities" and "managing change" as well as actions that might be taken to further goals identified in each focus area.

Community Working Group #3 - Exercise

Working Group members were provided a set of "Opportunities and Constraints" worksheets to assist in their review and comment on the emerging vision, focus areas and actions.

Community Working Group #3 - Opportunities and Constraints Worksheets

Community Working Group Meeting #4 - Managing Change

The January 11, 2012 meeting of the Community Working Group focussed on the theme of "managing change". Presentations on servicing infrastructure, environmental planning and district energy in the Scarborough Centre were given by staff. The Community Working Group also discussed, and endorsed, the vision and guiding principles for the study in preparation for the January 21, 2012 Design Charrette.

Community Working Group Meeting #4


A detailed design charrette for the McCowan Precinct Plan Study was held on January 21, 2012.

McCowan Precinct Plan Study: Charrette

Approximately 35 local residents, property owners and businesses worked cooperatively in groups with City Staff and Councillors De Baeremaeker and Thompson to develop plans for the Precinct's future