Vaughan Mills is located in the city of Vaughan, Ontario. Situated near Canada’s Wonderland amusement park, Vaughan Mills is one of the largest shopping centres in Canada. The shopping area is easily accessed from Highway 400, either northbound or southbound. Alternatively for locals, it can be accessed from Rutherford Road or Jane Street. This is York Region’s largest shopping mall, with approximately 1.3 million square feet (110,000 m²) of retail space. There are over 200 retail stores, restaurants, and entertainment outlets. The mall is located near the York Region Transit Vaughan Mills Terminal and the can be accessed by the nearby Vaughan Metropolitan Centre TTC subway station via courtesy shuttle.
The dream of Vaughan Mills Mall began in 1999, and was initially intended to be a slightly larger complex of 1.4 million square feet (130,000 m²), with up to 18 anchor tenants and a combined 245 stores and services. The final design ended up slightly smaller. The building was designed and built by Ivanhoé Cambridge and the Mills Corporation. The Mills Corporation owns a portfolio of shopping malls across the United States of America. JPRA served as the design architect for the centre, with Bregman + Hamann Architects as project architect. Like its American counterparts, Vaughan Mills Mall utilizes a “race track” layout to maximize the exposure of all mall retailers.
The shopping centre was supposed to be a stepping stone for U.S. retailers aiming to enter the Canadian market. Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World was the only American retailer to make its exclusive launch there. Other anticipated retailers such as Bed, Bath and Beyond and Burlington Coat Factory never ended up coming to Vaughan Mills. Initially, an ESPN X Games Skatepark was planned as a major entertainment venue but that was replaced by the short-lived NASCAR Speedpark, which is now home to Legoland Discovery Zone.
When Vaughan Mills Mall opened in November 2004, it was the first enclosed shopping complex to be opened in the Greater Toronto Area since the Erin Mills Town Centre in 1990. It was also the first major mall built in the GTA in the 21st century. Within two months after opening, the mall surpassed two million visitors. Annual estimates are that Vaughan Mills receives over 13.5 million visitors yearly. In 2006, the Mills Corporation sold its stake in Vaughan Mills to partner Ivanhoé Cambridge.
In January 2013, plans were announced to expand the shopping mall with 150,000 square feet and 50 new stores. The expanded section opened October 23, 2014. In March 2016, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th opened a 32,000 square feet (3,000 m2) store in the mall, entering the space once previously occupied by Linens N Things and then Home Outfitters.
The Regional Municipality of York passed a bylaw exemption to the Retail Business Holidays Act of Ontario, which now allows businesses in Vaughan Mills to open on the following statutory holidays: New Year’s Day, Canada Day, Victoria Day, Labour Day, Civic Holiday and Canadian Thanksgiving Day. Vaughan Mills Mall closes its doors only three days each year: Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Christmas Day.