Thornhill SNAP

About the Thornhill SNAP

The Thornhill SNAP is a comprehensive action plan for neighbourhood resilience and revitalization that integrates local community interests, sustainability objectives, and climate adaptation strategies under the overarching theme of historically rich, culturally diverse, green, and connected.

community members take part in pollinator garden planting at Oakbank Pond Park

This plan supports a future where the neighbourhood’s public and private spaces are well connected and rich with nature, activity, culture, history, and art; where people of all ages and abilities feel comfortable, safe, and engaged; where the built environment is created or retrofitted with health and sustainability in mind; and where community connections grow and prosper.

Study Area Boundaries

The Thornhill SNAP community is situated in both the Upper East Don and Lower East Don River sub-watersheds.

Located in the City of Vaughan, Regional Municipality of York (York Region), the Thornhill SNAP neighbourhood is home to a population of approximately 29,500 people.

The neighborhood comprises two distinct demographics:

  • The area south of Centre Street, known as Block One, primarily consists of single-family homes that are approximately 30-39 years old. This Block also contains 18 multi-unit residential buildings (MURBs), some of which are home to more vulnerable, low-income residents, and one of which currently offers subsidized housing.
  • The area north of Centre street, known as Block Two, consists primarily of single-family homes that are on average 60 or more years old.

map of Thornhill SNAP area boundaries

Neighbourhood Selection & Key Drivers

The following are key technical priorities and motivating interests identified through the neighbourhood selection process and community:

Flood Vulnerable Area

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) identifies the community as a Flood Vulnerable Area Cluster Management Zone, and the neighbourhood has the highest number of flood calls in Vaughan (2008–2018).


Low Impact Development (LID)

This area is a high priority for LID retrofits due to the presence of medium-high impervious soils and a depth to water table, in certain areas, that is conducive to infiltration.


Sensitive Target Fish Species

Most of the Thornhill SNAP neighbourhood is located in the Upper East Don River sub-watershed. A study commissioned by the City of Vaughan in 2010 noted the presence of Sensitive Fish Area 5, which covers most of Richmond Hill and the northern part of Block 2 in the Thornhill SNAP area.

This Fish Area features permanent, cold water streams and several fish Species-At-Risk (including Brown Trout, Mottled Sculpin, Rainbow Trout).

brown trout
Brown Trout


Energy Usage and Intensity

Portions of the Thornhill neighbourhood have the highest energy consumption rates in the City, as identified in the City of Vaughan’s Municipal Energy Plan, which also highlights the potential to improve home energy performance.


Annual Water Consumption

This area has one of the highest rates of indoor and outdoor water consumption in York Region, highlighting potential opportunities for reducing both indoor and outdoor water usage.

the Thornhill SNAP neighbourhood has high rates of indoor and outdoor water consumption


Urban Heat Stress

Areas within the Thornhill neighbourhood are vulnerable to urban heat stress, which can pose a threat to vulnerable populations such as seniors and children.


Aging Population & Urban Growth

The presence of a large senior population combined with urban growth pressures presents opportunities for encouraging aging-in-place initiatives and fostering intergenerational interactions.


Aging Park Infrastructure & Changing Demographics

Aging park infrastructure and changes in neighbourhood demographics present an opportunity for park revitalization initiatives.


Areas of Concentrated Disadvantage

Southern portions of the neighbourhood have been identified as an area of concentrated disadvantage.


Planned Capital Projects

A series of planned capital projects can be leveraged through the SNAP program to achieve greater environmental, resiliency, and social impact in this community.

These planned projects include:

  • Gallanough Park Stormwater Management Facility
  • Garnet A. Williams Community Centre
  • Clark Avenue bike lanes
  • York Hill Park revitalization
  • South York Greenway Pedestrian and Cycling Corridor


Nature in the City

There is an opportunity to facilitate meaningful contact with nature throughout the neighbourhood by improving connections with existing natural heritage features, through planned park revitalization projects and through strategically planned green infrastructure initiatives.

a park in autumn


Pleasant, Connected Active Transportation

The City has identified four collector roads within the neighbourhood to receive in-boulevard, dedicated cycle tracks.

These plans provide a great opportunity to promote active transportation and its associated health benefits, in addition to helping reduce traffic congestion, improve cycling safety, and enhance the pedestrian experience.

woman cycling on a dedicated city bike path


Community Connections & Livability

Community outreach revealed a feeling of detachment and a sense of disconnection between geographic areas, different cultures, and between youth and seniors.

The Action Plan will identify programming and projects that will encourage renewed community connections as a means of improving quality of life and to help build the neighbourhood’s overall resilience.


History, Culture & Art

The community indicated a strong desire to celebrate the neighbourhood’s unique history, diverse culture, and vibrant arts community.


The SNAP Action Planning Process

The SNAP action planning process follows a phased model that promotes multi-stakeholder engagement at various stages.

Local knowledge and input are integral to revealing important community characteristics – not apparent in the neighbourhood’s built form – that contribute to local culture and values.

Robust public engagement, along with technical analyses, help to inform the recommended priority actions and associated implementation strategies.

Action Plan Co-Development Process

PHASE 1: Builds baseline understanding of the neighbourhood context through rigorous technical analyses. In this phase, climate trends and associated local risks are also studied.
PHASE 2: The community’s motivational themes are identified, and high-level Action Areas are developed using guiding principles and a framework of sustainability objectives and indicators to measure success. A vulnerability assessment is also conducted, which introduces local knowledge of climate risks, assets, and adaptive capacity, gathered through the engagement process within the community.
PHASE 3: The final Action Plan is co-developed. Integrated projects and programs are identified under each Action Area and an impact evaluation is conducted for the climate adaptation measures. During this phase, partnerships and resources are also identified to facilitate implementation.

Meaningful community and stakeholder engagement has been central to the Thornhill SNAP action planning co-design process. It is intended to accomplish the following objectives:

  1. Understand local top of mind themes and motivating interests
  2. Apply local knowledge on climate risks and assets/resources in the community
  3. Identify shared plan objectives, projects, and recommendations
  4. Invite involvement in early on-the-ground projects and build longer term relationships
  5. Facilitate capacity building to help support the action plan implementation

The following table summarizes those who were engaged in the Thornhill SNAP action planning process:

  • City of Vaughan
  • Region of York
Local Councillor
  • Councillor Alan Shefman, City of Vaughan
Faith-Based Organizations
  • Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto Congregation
  • Shoresh
  • Holy Trinity Anglican Church
  • United Jewish Association Federation of Greater Toronto
Special Interest Groups & Not-for-Profit Groups
  • Springfarm Ratepayers Association
  • Society for the Preservation of Historic Thornhill
  • Thornhill Heritage Foundation
  • Windfall Ecology Centre
  • Gallanough Resource Centre
  • Developing and Nurturing Independence (DANI)
  • Reena
Educational Institutions
(Public & Private)
  • Blessed Scalabrini Catholic Elementary School
  • Kayla’s Children Centre
  • Thornhill Public School
First Nation Communities
  • Curve Lake First Nations
  • Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation
  • Hiawatha First Nation
Private Businesses
  • Thornhill Golf Club
  • Uplands Golf & Ski Club

Engagement Summary

The Thornhill SNAP planning process was highly collaborative and community-based, and was designed to foster co-ownership of the Action Plan among stakeholders and members of the community.

Engagement activities were designed to tap into residents’ emotional connection to the neighbourhood as a main motivation for taking actions to improve local sustainability and resiliency.

The engagement process included one-on-one stakeholder engagement, the SNAP Into Action survey, various in-person and virtual workshops, open house sessions, and online Action Plan map engagement.

Thornhill SNAP neighbourhood resident takes part in community engagement event

The Thornhill SNAP Action Plan

Download the Action Plan Report

The Thornhill Sustainable Neighbourhood Action Plan (SNAP) is a comprehensive plan for neighbourhood resilience and revitalization that integrates local community interests, sustainability objectives, and climate adaptation strategies under the overarching theme of “historically rich, culturally diverse, green and connected”.

Sustainability Framework

Working goals and objectives for the Thornhill SNAP were developed across various sustainability themes based on technical neighbourhood conditions and community interests.

These goals and objectives were customized to the neighbourhood, but also respond to bigger-picture municipal and TRCA strategies.

Thornhill SNAP sustainability framework

The Thornhill SNAP Action Plan Map

Select the image below to view the full-sized map.

Thornhill SNAP action plan map

Action Areas & Implementation Projects

The foundation of the Thornhill SNAP Action Plan is premised on the following integrated Action Areas and associated projects:

The Action Areas

1. Connected People, Places, and Ecosystems

This action area focuses on building and enhancing physical, social, and ecological connections within the community.

The following four components should be considered when planning and designing projects under this action area:

  1. Green Infrastructure Planning: An inventory of green infrastructure opportunities should be identified for the Thornhill neighbourhood to inform future development of public and private spaces.
  2. Active Transportation Planning: Active transportation and multi-modal transportation improvements should be included where possible to encourage cycling and increase accessibility.
  3. Parks and Open Space Planning: Parks and open space improvements should be included in the 12 parks and four parkettes where needed and identified by the community.
  4. Educational, Cultural and Community Programming: Cultural and community programming will foster community connections and help residents develop a deep sense of belonging and pride in their neighbourhood.

Implementation Progress to Date

  • Oakbank Pond Park Community Engagement Project: Native pollinator garden constructed with community volunteers in September 2021, and a follow-up revitalization of the garden in June 2023.
  • Thornhill SNAP community pollinator garden planting event at Oakbank Park

  • Hefill Park Tree Planting Project: 124 trees and shrubs planted at Hefill Park with the help of community volunteers.
  • Community Event at the J.E.H. MacDonald House: In both 2022 and 2023, the SNAP team partnered with the Thornhill Historical Society to deliver a community event at the J.E.H. MacDonald House property. These events included hands-on community plantings, guided walking tours of the historic site, and the exhibition of local artists. The Thornhill Garden and Horticultural Society also participated.
  • Thornhill SNAP community event at the historic J.E.H. MacDonald House

  • York Hill District Park Tree Planting Project: 165 trees and shrubs were planted at York Hill Park in September 2022 with the help of IKEA Canada volunteers. This project is part of the larger Environmental Learning Zone being established in the southern area of the park.
  • volunteers from IKEA Canada participate in community rain garden planting event at York Hill Park

  • York Hill District Park Rain Garden Construction and Community Planting Project: Rain garden construction was completed in the spring of 2023, followed by a planting event in June 2023 with the help of school groups and community members. The rain garden project is part of the Environmental Learning Zone project.
  • student volunteers take part in the planting of a community rain garden at York Hill District Park

  • Cycling Safety Webinar: In September 2022, community members attended a webinar focused on safe cycling and how to use the new cycle tracks on Clark Avenue.


2. Residential Retrofits

Residential retrofit initiatives to achieve diverse environmental and climate resilience goals, specifically customized to respond to resident priorities and the building stock in the neighbourhood.

  • Residential Retrofit Program Community Focus Groups: In November 2022, community members attended two focus groups conducted to test key components of the Residential Retrofit Program, prior to full-scale program development. The objective of the focus groups was to ensure the most accurate account of resident priorities, needs, and interests.
  • Residential Retrofit Program Webinar: In December 2021, community members attended a webinar as part of the Residential Retrofit Program, educating homeowners on general energy retrofits and lifestyle changes, including solar PV, heating systems, building envelope improvements, pool maintenance options, air sealing, and conversion to electric vehicles.
  • Air-Source Heat Pumps Workshop: On January 9, 2022, community members attended a workshop focused on air-source heat pumps, delivered by TRCA’s Sustainable Technologies Evaluation Program (STEP).


3. Greening & Humanization of Buildings

Encouragement and support of community connections, natural heritage improvements, and sustainable and resilient Commercial/Institutional (CI) and Multi-Unit Residential Buildings (MURBs).

Implementation Progress to Date

  • Private Property Green Infrastructure Projects: Throughout the year, private property owners were engaged to advance green infrastructure in their neighbourhood. Two multi-unit residential buildings received raised garden beds for residents’ use, as well as materials for balcony gardens and fruit trees; the BAYT Synagogue and Reena received plants to implement pollinator gardens.


Public Realm Signature Projects

The Thornhill SNAP signature projects are innovative projects that will demonstrate how multiple co-benefits and diverse, neighbourhood-wide objectives can be achieved on the site.

Gallanough Park Redevelopment

Gallanough Park is a community park that is a candidate for redevelopment in the City’s 2018 Parks Redevelopment Strategy.

the revitalization of Gallanough Park is one of the signature projects identified for the Thornhill SNAP neighbourhood

The existing park currently includes playground equipment, an outdoor gazebo, swings, and walking trails and is connected to a number of important community institutions. These connections provide an ideal opportunity to make Gallanough Park into a vibrant and exciting community gathering space.

The Park was identified as a signature project based on feedback received from the community combined with the City’s capital plans to construct a stormwater management facility in the park to alleviate urban flooding.

plan for redevelopment of Gallanough Park in Thornhill

Revitalization recommendations feature an abundance of activities and experiences for residents by adapting and enhancing park functions.

The goal is to create well connected and cohesive spaces while providing comfortable and safe experiences and enhanced habitat for wildlife.

View the Action Plan Report for more details.


York Hill District Park Redevelopment

York Hill District Park is adjacent to the Garnet A. Williams Community Centre (GAWCC) and includes three playground areas, two baseball diamonds, a small gazebo, swings, tennis and basketball courts, an outdoor skating ring and a series of multi-purpose trails.

the vision for the redevelopment of York Hill Park is described as a cultivated wilderness

The Park was identified as a signature project based on feedback received from the community combined with the City’s capital plans for renovations at GAWCC and the availability of capital funding through Parks Infrastructure Planning and Development department to develop a revitalization plan.

The community’s vision focused on the following main ideas:

  • Access and connectivity including expanded and improved multi-use pathways
  • Activity options for all ages and increased educational learning
  • Creation of a park focal feature
  • Introduction of urban agriculture and local food opportunities
  • Increased number of trees and shade opportunities and resting areas

View the Action Plan Report for more details.


Complete Streets Project

The Thornhill SNAP Complete Streets project identifies areas of opportunity on three collector roads in the Thornhill SNAP neighbourhood.

These roads were identified based on input from the community and their alignment with the City of Vaughan’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan.

Sidewalks exist on both sides of the selected roads, but pedestrian connections between sidewalks, midblock crossings, community amenities, and open spaces need to be strengthened.

In addition, community feedback indicated numerous suggestions for these streets, including:

  • Improved walkability and traffic flow
  • Reduction in pedestrian/cyclist crossing distances and times at intersections
  • Midblock crossings
  • Reduction in traffic congestion
  • Implementation of cycling facilities
  • Beautification and planting of additional street trees

an architectural rendering of the complete streets project planned for the Thornhill SNAP neighbourhood
Rendering courtesy of Ryerson University.

The Complete Streets concept was used to help guide engagement discussions and ensure that feedback encompassed all potential street users – including pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, and motorists – while considering the broader SNAP guiding principles recommended by the community.

The objective of the Complete Streets project is to create safe, inviting, and vibrant streets and streetscapes that will attract both residents and visitors of all ages and abilities alike, while addressing the sustainability objectives identified for the community, including urban forest and habitat improvement and sustainable stormwater management.

View the Action Plan Report for more details.


Thornhill Home Retrofit Program

A pilot Home Retrofit Program has been designed, tailored to the Thornhill neighbourhood based on interest expressed during the SNAP public engagement activities.

The design concept incorporates principles from the Residential Retrofits Integrated Action Area.

homeowners retrofit windows to improve energy efficiency

The program will offer support services and educational activities to help homeowners decide on key actions to be implemented at their homes and to make the retrofit process as straightforward as possible.

Per the guiding principles, the program will support actions across multiple sustainability and resilience themes (including energy, water, stormwater management, eco-landscaping, and flood prevention), as well as social themes such as aging in place.

In addition, the proposed activities will help homeowners access existing incentive programs and continue the City’s efforts to plan for a Local Improvement Charges financing program for energy retrofits.

View the Action Plan Report for more details.


News and Events

Recent Newsletters:

Contact Information

Questions? Please contact:

Patricia Lewis
Program Manager, Sustainable Neighborhoods

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