By Kathy Rowe

Centennial residents have been patiently awaiting updates regarding the development of a V!VA Retirement Community ever since V!VA purchased the Lawson Road property in June 2019.

Monica Dashwood, Vice President of Real Estate Acquisitions and Development for V!VA Retirement Communities, spoke to me about the progress of this project.

After a few submissions, a final site plan was recently submitted to the City of Toronto and Monica was optimistic that conditional approval will be achieved by the end of the summer. “Once we get the conditional site plan approval V!VA will start the building permit process,” Monica said.

Curious about the protected green space near the property, I asked her about the involvement of the Toronto Region Conservation Association (TRCA). “There is a strip of land on the west side of the property that is designated ‘natural heritage’ and regulated by the TRCA,” she said. “It is part of the Highland Creek natural heritage system. V!VA is complying with the rules set out by the TRCA and gained its approval for the project.

“We are respecting the buffer zones – the setback from top of bank and the drip line of the trees. Without determining that we could get TRCA approval, we wouldn’t have been able to seal the (purchase) deal.”

With the building permit submission in sight, Monica described this step of the process. “The building permit process for a project of this magnitude is huge, very detailed. You don’t start that process until you are confident in your municipal approvals.”

The consultant team working on the building permit will need five to six months to prepare the construction drawings. “Our goal is to make the submission by the end of 2023. Then it is with the city for review. The permit review process can take anywhere from 90 days to several months.” If everything goes to plan V!VA hopes that construction can begin in early summer of 2024.

Monica described the four-to-five storey building as having a unique design so that it will fit the long, irregularly shaped site, while blending in with the residential landscape of the area.

“There are 338 units planned for our site plus common areas, services and amenities tailored to older adults. There will be a full range of retirement living options, from Independent Living through to Assisted Living, and dedicated Memory Care for those living with cognitive impairments,” she said.

A statutory public meeting is not required by the municipality, but V!VA will be offering an information meeting to present the project to the community once conditional site plan approval has been granted by the city.

The CCRA will stay in touch with V!VA and we will inform residents of that meeting when the time is appropriate. In the meantime, if you would like to get more information you can register at: