The Growth Plan establishes policies that municipalities must conform with when planning for and approving development. Primarily, the Growth Plan attempts to prevent urban sprawl, revitalize urban centres, and reduce congestion by intensifying growth in existing urban areas and requiring new development to make provisions for transportation alternatives such as transit, walking, and cycling.
- By 2015, 40% of all new residential development, occurring annually within each municipality, will have to be within already built-up areas.
- Identifies 25 “urban growth centres” to be targets for higher amounts of growth.
- Establishes various minimum density targets for new development.
- Promotes mixed-use, transit-supportive, pedestrian-friendly communities.
- Restricts conversion of employment land uses to non-employment uses.
- Restricts the expansion of areas designated for development by municipal Official Plans.
Population and Employment Projections
The policies of the growth plan are based on population and employment growth forecasts for the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area. According to the Growth Plan, the entire region is expected to grow by 3.7 million people by 2031, with 75% of that growth occurring in the GTA.
The largest increases in the GTA will be experienced in the Regions of Peel (up 59%), Durham (up 81%), York (up 97%), and Halton (up 100%). The Cities of Toronto and Hamilton will also see significant increases (19% and 29% respectively).
Employment in the GTA will also see significant increases by 2031 with more than 1.3 million more jobs, a 47% increase. Once again, the largest increases will be experienced outside of Toronto, with Peel up 64%, Durham up 84%, York up 100%, and Halton up105%. Toronto and Hamilton will see employment increases of 14% and 43% respectively.
Details of the Growth Plans population and employment projections are available at the Growth Plan web site.
Where will growth take place?
The objective of the Growth Plan is to establish how and where the tremendous amount of growth coming to this region will be accommodated while preserving and enhancing the region’s quality of life and economic competitiveness.
The key strategy is to increase the capacity of existing built-up areas. Therefore, the Growth Plan requires that, by 2015, 40% of all new residential development,occurring annually within each municipality, be within already built-up areas.
In addition, the Growth Plan establishes 25 specific areas as targets for growth. As the primary areas for growth, these so-called “Urban Growth Centres” will be the focus for transit and infrastructure investments. By 2031, development in these urban growth centres will be required to achieve minimum density targets that are higher than other areas.
New development in Urban Growth Centres in Toronto will be required to meet a target of 400 people and jobs combined per hectare. New development in Urban Growth Centres in the GTA will be required to meet a target of 200 people and jobs combined per hectare. New development in Urban Growth Centres outside of the GTA will be required to meet a target of 150 people and jobs combined per hectare.
Details on the locations and policies of the 25 urban growth centres are available at the Growth Plan web site.
What if existing areas can’t accommodate growth?
The Growth Plan acknowledges that not all of the expected population and job growth can be accommodated within existing areas. Some growth will occur on “greenfields”, areas already designated for growth by municipal official plans but not yet developed.
However, the Growth Plan sets strict expectations for how these areas will grow. In particular, greenfield development will have to be designed with densities and street configurations that support public transit and alternative transportation modes such as cycling and walking. New “greenfield” development will be required to meet a minimum density target of 50 people and jobs combined per hectare.
Future of Employment Lands
It is expected that the Greater Golden Horseshoe will continue to be an important economic centre, seeing significant job growth. As a result, the Growth Plan establishes policies to preserve an adequate supply of land to accommodate employment uses. Specifically, the conversion of employment lands to non employment uses will be restricted.