National Post Feature on the City of Pickering

Pickering’s country roots and city reach

Area’s goal a ‘balanced mix’ of economy and environment

Devorah Garland

National Post

Saturday, September 23, 2006

At one time it was a simple collection of rural hamlets, but Pickering ( today is a six-year-old city in an enviable position. Country roots give it abundant natural beauty: clean, well-kept parks; large conservation areas; a wide, sweeping waterfront; wild river valleys and rustic Frenchman’s Bay. City amenities include award-winning, youth-friendly recreational and sports programs, gracious cultural events, ample retail and entertainment venues and a solid, expanding industrial base.

Toronto’s sports and entertainment venues can be reached in a 40-minute commute, by GO train or car.

The location makes it a desirable real estate market and its population of 94,000 is expected to double in a few short years, thanks to major new developments.

City Hall’s tol

ling clock tower and Pickering Town Centre — 200 shops and an eight-screen cinema — anchor a well-developed downtown area with dozens of stores, fine dining and multicultural restaurants and a good collection of bars pulsing with music and laughter.

Just south of this, Pickering’s beaches are teeming with life. The good weather brings friendly volleyball matches on the sand while dogs, cyclists and walkers greet each other on the boardwalk and nature trails.

“We’re down there probably twice a week in summer,” says Lisa Truscott, a 10-year Pickering resident with two children. “We love it. The kids play in the water, we walk the dog. We’re always on the trail.”

There is a nuclear plant marring the waterfront’s beauty, but few locals give it much thought, thanks largely to its good safety record. “It’s a fixture. It was part of the community when we moved here, and I believe it’s safe,” Ms. Truscott says.

Sustainable growth is Mayor David Ryan’s goal — “a balanced mix of social, economic and environmental aspects,” he says. One example: S & R Development Group Ltd. plans to turn an aging strip mall, within walking distance to the GO train and nearby amenities, into a mixed-use facility with 411 condominiums, 2,000 sq. m. of office space, 161 townhomes, two acres of parkland, and tranquil Douglas Ravine on its border. (Call 416-821-0971 or visit for more details.)

Other new home construction downtown includes Watermark: 132 luxury executive townhomes by Brookfield Homes (brook, on Highway 2 j

ust east of Brock Road. Sized from 1,351 to 2,113 sq. ft., they start in the low $200,000s and have three bedrooms, very flexible floor plans, five stainless steel kitchen appliances and rare two- or three-car parking; ask about bonus upgrades.

Amanda’s Enclaves, 18 luxury custom-built homes, are down the street at Highway 2 and Fairport Road. Ranging from 2,000 sq. ft. to 3,300 sq. ft. and priced from the high $400,000s, Louisville Homes (louisville has a few lots left for one of its customized, bungalow-with-loft and two-storey designs featuring hardwood floors, oak staircases, exterior stone with stucco accents, casement windows and lots of upgrades; all in an upscale area.

You can get all the conveniences of luxury living, in a country area. Busy South Pickering flows north into pastoral countryside ribboned with appealing river valleys. The Seaton hiking trail winds into quaint hamlets such as peaceful Whitevale with its heritage architecture. At the bottom of the long, main-street hill is Pickering Museum Village, bringing to life the area’s pioneering roots. Roadside produce stands and bridge-side fishing are typical of this rural area.

© National Post 2006