Earlier this month, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and
Housing released a report related to its co-ordinated review of
land use plans in Ontario. The report, Planning for Health,
Prosperity and Growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe: 2015 –
2014, provided a total of 87 recommendations about building
communities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
This report is the outcome of the province's February 2015 announcement of itsintention to
do a co-ordinated review of the following interrelated plans:
The Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe
The Greenbelt subsumes all the lands in the Oak Ridges Moraine
Conservation Plan and the Niagara Escarpment Plan, and expands the
overallprotected area, with a view to protecting important
agricultural resources. The complementary Growth Plan provides
guidance and targets for new growth and intensification in areas
where development will be permitted.
The Growth Plan created concepts like "complete
communities", communities that support a diverse mix of land
uses and housing types, a range of employment opportunities,
high-quality public open space, a variety of transportation
options, and easy access to services and shops, and set
intensificationand density targetsfor development. The aim was to
take up less space, and provide for active transportation options
and transit.These "complete communities" are intended to
be the opposite ofsuburban sprawl, where communities are highly car
dependent, withlargely single-family dwelling homes that eatup
large amounts of land,cost a fortune in infrastructure
maintenance,and forever alter the landscape.
A key issue that was never directly addressed through these
plans was that of climate change. While theplans have the effect of
addressing climate change through reduction in car use, and
avoiding the loss of greenspace, the issue was still not being
taken seriously 10 years ago when the Greenbelt and GrowthPlans
were in the planning and approval stages.
As the report indicates, despite provincial and municipal
initiatives, greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow. Ontario
will fall significantly short of its targets. Emissions from
buildings and transportation continue to climb, constituting 51% of
Ontario's total emissions.
Pembina Institute'sresearch, highlighted in the report, noted that
to achieve the necessary reductions, the intensification targets
would need to go up to 60% from 40%, and the density target for
designated greenfield areas would need to be increased to 70 people
and jobs/ha from the current target of 50. Complementary actions to
increase transit and active transportation options are also
The expert panel report also notes that systems-based protection
of agriculturalland, natural areas and water resources is important
to maintaining the natural functions of these areas, and thus their
long-term carbon sequestration.
The province is currently developing a long-term strategy on
climate change. The expert panel considers it "crucial that
the climate change strategy and action plan and the outcome of this
review complement each other."
To this end, the panel made two key recommendations (nos. 67 and
Include climate change mitigation and
adaptation in the vision, goals and policies of the four
Require municipalities to prepare
climate change plans or incorporate policies into official plans to
advance climate change mitigation and adaptation goals consistent
with the province's climate change strategy and action
The report is important reading for anyone interested in
sustainable community development. We commend the expert panel and
look forward to the final outcome of the review, resulting in
amended plans,expected by summer2016.
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Ontario's Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change continues to roll out its Climate Change Action Plan with its proposed GHG guide for projects that are subject to the province's Environmental Assessment Act.
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