Big Business With a Small Town Feel

By Anna Guy

It’s the largest municipality by area in the GTA and — according to its Mayor—the Town of Caledon has worked hard to balance its exceptional natural beauty even as it celebrates a recent boost in commercial and industrial activity.

As part of Peel Region, right next door to Toronto (and half an hour from Pearson International Airport), Caledon is a unique mix of natural areas, farmlands, and villages. Home to 70,000 people, Caledon has experienced significant population growth during the last five years.

“We like to think of ourselves as a ‘community of communities’,” Mayor Allan Thompson tells Business Elite Canada, a few weeks after being elected into office for his second term. A lifelong resident of Caledon whose family has been farming for generations, Mayor Thompson says “Caledon’s future is now.”

“Our strategic location and excellent transportation network—and the fact we have hundreds of acres of employment lands ready to go—has made for a ‘perfect storm’ of good news recently,” he says.

Included in that good news are recent announcements by UPS and Amazon that will bring hundreds of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in investment to Caledon.

In July, Amazon announced it would build a 1-million square foot fulfillment centre that will create more than 800 full-time jobs, a huge boost to the local economy that will bolster Caledon’s future sustainability.
The good news was followed up quickly by UPS, which announced its own $200 million sorting facility in Caledon, its largest investment of this kind in Canada.

One of the reasons businesses are attracted to Caledon is our quality of life, Thompson says. “Our schools rank above the provincial average, we’re a safe community and we’re well-known as an outdoor recreation destination,” Thompson says.

New Community Centre in Southfields

To support and maintain this quality of life, Caledon is building a new community centre near the Highway 410 / Mayfield Road interchange and expanding a two-pad complex in the village of Caledon East.

“The new community centre in Southfields is the centrepiece of the growing Mayfield West community,” Thompson says.

This new 65,000 square foot community centre will allow residents to enjoy a variety of amenities in the building such as the Town’s first two-tank swimming pool, fitness centre and aerobics studio, a multi-purpose space, dedicated rooms for youth and seniors as well as a community hub space for the library, OPP, an EarlyON Centre and other hub partners. The facility is designed to meet LEED Silver certification and should be operational in 2019.

Caledon East Community Complex

The Caledon East Community Complex was designed with expansion in mind. In 2017, as part of a consultation process with residents called IMAGINE.PLAN.PLAY, Council completed a facility needs assessment that identified a growing demand for more “active living” programming and facilities.

“We began to develop ideas for what the expanded facility would look like and in June of this past summer we presented initial design ideas at a public open house…and received very good feedback,” Thompson says. “We hope to begin the construction process in late 2019 once Council has approved the 2019 budget.”

The planned “active living” amenities include a new full-service fitness centre, a warm area to view the arenas, accessible access to the existing spectator seating area, a multi-purpose gymnasium, an integrated walking track, a multipurpose space, a dedicated youth/seniors space, a sports hall of fame and improved administrative space.

New Bolton Fire Station

Infrastructure improvements continue with Caledon Fire and Emergency Services’ new Station 302. At approximately 21,700 sq. ft., the new station will be a combined fire and paramedic station, housing several pieces of modern fire apparatus as well as accommodating Peel Regional Paramedic Services.

Throughout the planning and design process the Town paid close attention to the needs of the community, the first responders, and the logistics of emergency services, Thompson says. The Town and the Region of Peel worked with a consultant to determine the preferred site. The eventual location and design had to incorporate a number of factors: local environmental considerations, current operating practices, response times, trends and challenges, population growth, service needs, transportation access, and alignment with the Town’s Master Fire Plan.

Well known as a “green community,” being environmentally responsible is part of Caledon’s culture, Thompson says. Council has made it a policy to design all its new facilities to LEED silver standards.

“Each project has its own challenges and requirements, but that’s the goal we’ve set for ourselves,” Thompson says. “We think it’s important to walk the talk. We were one of the first municipalities in Ontario, for example, to implement a Green Development Program. This program offers developers a discount on their development charges as an incentive to build to a LEED standard.”

All these projects are indicative of a town on the rise. As a citizen and Mayor, we asked Thompson how he sees Caledon’s evolution.

“We are growing, but it’s planned growth,” he says. “The Amazon site, for example, is on lands we started planning for over 10 years ago. Over 1,700 companies call Caledon home and some of those like Husky Injection Molding Systems, Mars Canada, and Sardo Foods are doing well on the world stage.”

What makes Caledon unique is that, despite its rapid growth it has managed to maintain its distinctive rural/urban charm. “As Caledon grows, we’re confident that we’ve achieved a balance that will continue to support this rural and small village feel,” Thompson says.

This combination of shovel-ready employment lands and enviable
quality of make Caledon a desirable destination.

“Much of our land base is protected by provincial legislation, from the Greenbelt and Niagara Escarpment to the Oak Ridges Moraine,” Thompson says.

“Of the remaining developable land, we have carefully targeted growth in three areas (Bolton, Caledon East and Mayfield West) to balance commercial/industrial and residential…and preserve that rural/urban mix that makes Caledon what it is.”