Growth plan sets out strategy for future prosperity

Archived Release

Growth plan sets out strategy for future prosperity

Ministry of Infrastructure

Government Releases Vision For Growth In The Greater Golden Horseshoe QUEEN'S PARK, ON, Feb. 16 - The Ontario government is laying the course for future economic prosperity in the Greater Golden Horseshoe with the release of the draft growth plan for the region, David Caplan, Minister of Public Infrastructure Renewal said today. "Within the next generation, we expect to welcome 3.7 million new people to the Greater Golden Horseshoe," said Caplan. "Since the Greater Golden Horseshoe is the engine of Ontario's - and Canada's - economy, we must plan for this growth in a strategic and coordinated fashion so that existing and future residents live in healthy and prosperous communities." For the first time, the Ontario government is developing a coordinated approach to land use planning in Ontario. The draft growth plan and the government's proposed greenbelt plan complement each other as part of this strategy to support anticipated growth. "The government is making real progress in building a growth plan that will help make better and stronger communities in the golden horseshoe region," said Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion. "We know that urban sprawl has an adverse affect on peoples' health," said Jan Kasperski, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario College of Family Physicians. "The Ontario government's connected strategies such as the proposed growth plan and the planning reform initiative are positive first steps in controlling sprawling growth." "I fully support the direction the government is taking to ensure we better manage growth in this province," said Ken Seiling, Chair of the Region of Waterloo. "Without this leadership we will only see further environmental degradation and an erosion in our quality of life. This reinforces the work being done in Waterloo Region." "The growth plan is key to Hamilton's economic future. The new growth plan shows the government is on the right track," said Hamilton Mayor Larry Di Ianni. The draft growth plan is intended to generate further input from key stakeholders, including municipalities, business and environmental and other sectors, as a step towards a final draft growth plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. This would be the first growth plan developed under the proposed Places to Grow Act, 2004. Backgrounder ------------------------------------------------------------------------- PLANNING FOR GROWTH IN THE GREATER GOLDEN HORSESHOE Overview Of Technical Papers The Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal has prepared a draft growth plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe for the purpose of stimulating discussion with municipalities, business, agricultural, environment and other stakeholders. In preparing the draft growth plan, the ministry commissioned several studies to ensure that the plan is based on scientific data. The data also provides interested parties the facts and figures needed to engage in discussion and provide informed input into the final growth plan. The technical papers Urban Growth Centres This paper describes in more detail the 25 Urban Growth Centres (UGCs) proposed in the draft growth plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. It addresses the characteristics that led to the designation, and discusses the opportunities to accommodate future growth. Urban growth centres are key areas designated for accommodating future growth and intensification under the growth plan. This paper builds on the centres identified in the province's Places to Grow discussion paper (Summer 2004) and applies both quantitative and qualitative analysis to the identification of UGCs. They are typically core metropolitan areas and significant economic hubs that serve as destinations with a regional focus. UGCs have or are planned to have high and medium-density residential areas, mixed-use areas, office areas, retail areas, and regeneration areas, and typically exclude single-purpose employment lands and established residential neighbourhoods. UGCs perform a key regional service function, including transportation links to other UGCs. The Growth Outlook for the Greater Golden Horseshoe This paper provides population, household and employment forecasts to 2031 in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The data shows that our figures are in line with many other studies. Based on current trends, the forecast anticipates that the Greater Golden Horseshoe will increase by more than 3.7 million people to a total of 11.5 million. Jobs will increase by almost 1.8 million to a total of 5.6 million by 2031. Three growth distribution scenarios show the impacts of the growth management principles and policies outlined in Places to Grow. Better Choices. Brighter Future. Forecasts have been developed and integrated for two study areas: the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton, and the "outer ring" of the Greater Golden Horseshoe. These forecasts will be used as a basis for all growth planning in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The report is a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and municipalities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Hemson Consulting Ltd. conducted the analysis and modelling. A Current Assessment of Gross Land Supply in the Greater Golden Horseshoe This paper examines long-term land supply in the Greater Golden Horseshoe and clarifies the assumptions and definitions that are being used in determining land supply. The document defines the amount of land that is: - currently urbanized (i.e. built upon) - currently designated for settlement (but not currently built) - identified for protection through provincial plans and as significant parks and conservations lands - not currently designated for urban use. The document provides gross land area estimates. Within the Greater Golden Horseshoe, there are approximately 1,109,400 acres of designated settlement area, of which 352,000 remain unbuilt and available for development. In the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton (GTAH), there are 692,300 acres of designated settlement area, of which 174,700 are currently designated for future growth. In the GTAH there are an additional 156,000 acres that are currently designated non-urban. These findings serve as important baseline data for determining how to accommodate future growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe and demonstrates that, based on population and employment forecasts prepared for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, and using preliminary calculations developed in consultation with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, enough land is available to accommodate growth projected for the GTAH to 2031. Application of Land-Use Intensification Target for the Greater Golden Horseshoe Land-use intensification is a key strategy outlined in the Places to Grow discussion paper and was the subject of much discussion, including what was reasonably achievable and how intensification would be calculated. Intensification refers to larger scale development or redevelopment within existing urban areas that has the effect of increasing density within that area. Urban Strategies Inc. was retained to conduct research on the application of intensification targets in other jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom, Australia, British Columbia and New Zealand, as a tool for limiting urban sprawl. In addition, information was collected on the current levels of intensification, tracking, methods and achievements in single and upper tier municipalities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. In the report, Urban Strategies Inc. proposes methods for defining and achieving the intensification target in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. While other jurisdictions in Canada, the UK and Australia aim for approximately 60- 80 per cent intensification, our target of 40 per cent represents an achievable goal. It is important to note that different jurisdictions are measuring different things - apples and oranges. This is a made-in-Ontario approach that is right for us. The 40 per cent intensification is a starting point to help us plan for projected growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe in a way that is rationale, realizable, measurable and transparent. PLANNING FOR GROWTH IN THE GREATER GOLDEN HORSESHOE An Overview The Greater Golden Horseshoe is expected to grow by 3.7 million people by 2031. If planned strategically, this growth is positive, improving the vitality and quality of life for communities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe and contributing to our future prosperity and diversity. However, if the current pattern of unplanned development continues, the existing gap in infrastructure investment will widen even further, our quality of life will deteriorate, urban sprawl will continue to consume our open spaces and traffic congestion will increase. That is why the McGuinty government is developing a long-term growth plan for this region. It is a plan that would ensure communities prosper, the environment and other natural resources are protected, and we have the infrastructure in place to support the growth. Strategic growth planning The draft growth plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe outlines strategies for where and how the region should grow over the next 30 years. Building on broad stakeholder consultation and technical research, it proposes ways to maximize the effectiveness of future investments by making existing infrastructure work harder. It promotes policies that: - Make better use of our lands by directing growth to where it should go and away from lands that provide our food, water and recreation - Reduce urban sprawl, traffic gridlock and smog - Provide a broad range of housing choices and employment opportunities - Maximize public infrastructure investments to deliver better transit services, quicker movement of goods and cleaner, safer water. What's happened so far July 2004: Places to Grow: Better Choices. Brighter Future discussion paper released for public consultation. More than 1,600 people attended eight public meetings and almost 500 written submissions were received. October 2004: Places to Grow Act, 2004 (Bill 136) introduced. This legislation, if passed, would enable the government to develop growth plans for specific areas in the province. Because of its economic importance and the rapid growth being experienced, the Greater Golden Horseshoe growth plan is a top priority under the proposed legislation. January 2005: Three scientific papers released; The Growth Outlook for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, A Current Assessment of Gross Land Supply in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, and Application of Land-Use Intensification Target for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. These papers -developed with input from municipalities and independent consultants - provide important research and technical analysis in the development of the draft growth plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. February 2005: Draft growth plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe released. The plan is intended to stimulate discussion with municipalities, business, agricultural, environment and other stakeholders - thus providing informed input to a final draft growth plan for the region. In addition, a research paper on urban growth centres has been prepared to provide greater clarification. Next steps If passed, the Places to Grow Act, 2004 would provide the legal framework to proceed with a growth plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. At that time the ministry would prepare a proposed growth plan for final public consultation before adopting the official Greater Golden Horseshoe growth plan. Some facts and figures about the Greater Golden Horseshoe - The Greater Golden Horseshoe includes Peterborough County to the east, Waterloo region to the west, Niagara region to the south and Simcoe County to the north. - It covers 32,233 square kilometres. - 7,789,400 people live in this area. - The Greater Golden Horseshoe produces nearly 20 per cent of Canada's Gross Domestic Product. - More than 154,000 acres of land in the GTA have been developed for urban uses since 1993. That represents nine per cent of the GTA's total land area. - Roughly 70 per cent of GTA highways are almost at total capacity during rush hours. If we don't plan for growth - Our already choked highway system will get worse. Commute times in the GTA will increase by as much as 45 per cent. - Emissions from vehicles will increase by 42 per cent. Our air quality will worsen. Our health will decline. For example, we can expect to see a significant increase in children's asthma. - Another 1,000 square kilometres, an area about twice the size of Toronto, of greenfields and farmlands will be paved over. The linkages to other government initiatives We need to plan for growth in a coordinated fashion. To this end, Ontario government ministries are working together to ensure a good 'fit' with other provincial initiatives like greenbelt planning, infrastructure planning and transportation planning as well as strategies dealing with protecting the environment and our natural resources. PLANNING FOR GROWTH IS VITAL FOR OUR HEALTH AND THE ECONOMY The Greater Golden Horseshoe's enviable economy and quality of life continues to be a magnet for people from other parts of Canada and around the world. Not only is it the fastest growing metropolitan region in Ontario and Canada, it is among the fastest growing in North America. It is also the engine of Ontario's - and Canada's - economy. Over the next 30 years, it will attract an estimated 3.7 million new citizens - a welcome influx that will draw even more investment, create new jobs and contribute to both our prosperity and our diversity. That's why the Ontario government is planning for growth in a strategic and coordinated way, so the families of tomorrow can live in healthy, prosperous communities. Urban sprawl hurts the economy The vital Greater Golden Horseshoe region has outgrown the infrastructure put in place during the 1960s, '70s and '80s and it will cost tens of billions of dollars to ensure that we maintain the infrastructure we have today and build for the needs of tomorrow. Growth planning is necessary to maintain the quality of life necessary to attract and retain the highly educated people Ontario needs to compete in the knowledge economy. In recent years, the provincial growth-planning role has fallen by the wayside. The result: disjointed communities, underdeveloped transit, gridlock, rising pollution and ever-longer commute times to and from our jobs. Clogged transportation corridors, including critical border crossings, are costing Ontario upwards of $5 billion annually in lost GDP. Employment lands are being converted to uses that reinforce sprawl, limiting our ability to direct growth in economically beneficial ways in the future. A recent Ontario Chamber of Commerce study suggests gridlock is costing businesses across the province $5-billion a year in lost time and productivity. Sprawl hurts people's health Sprawl reduces the health of the population. According to an Ontario College of Family Physicians report, released in January 2005: - In their car-dependant world, suburban Ontarians are less active and falling prey to obesity and serious diseases like diabetes, asthma and heart problems, contributing to spiralling health costs. - More traffic means more engine emissions; the resulting pollution affects our health (asthma incidence is increasing) and our environment. - The stress of battling ever-longer daily commutes through almost impenetrable gridlock impacts negatively on commuters and their quality of family life. - Ontario's sprawl-related health problems are similar to the U.S. situation, but far worse compared to Europe and its more compact cities and higher public transit usage. In releasing the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada's report card on Canadians' health in February 2005, Dr. Larry Frank noted, "Governments need to recognize that approaches to community design that make it possible, and better yet rational, to walk to destinations has become a health policy issue that's critical to protecting public health. The way we design our communities has a real impact on our health." More compact communities - complete with stores and services easily accessible on foot or by bicycle - enhance our quality of life. They keep us active, involved and engaged in our communities. They're more easily serviced by public transit so people can replace lengthy, stress-filled commutes with rapid, efficient journeys to and from work - leaving more time for family, friends and community. Strategic planning is the answer The Greater Golden Horseshoe already boasts a highly educated population and a strong natural resource base; this new integrated approach to community planning will deliver a quality of life that continues to be the envy of the world. The draft growth plan suggests detailed policy directions to identify areas where capacity exists to best accommodate expected growth. Then it identifies a transportation network that links these areas through an extensive multi-modal system supported by public transit and a highway system for moving people and goods. Finally, it builds on the development of a Greenbelt Plan, which identifies the most significant areas for permanent agricultural and environmental preservation in the Greater Toronto Area. Disponible en fran├žais www.pir.gov.on.caFor further information: Wilson Lee, Minister's Office (416) 325-8735; Jim McPeak, Communications Branch (416) 212-7499; Leslie Woo, Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal, (416) 585-6247