Province Proposes Changes to A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (the “Growth Plan”)
On June 16, 2020, the Province posted two proposals on the Environmental Registry of Ontario (the “ERO”) related to its proposed changes to the Growth Plan. The proposal for the proposed amendments to the Growth Plan is found here and the proposal for the proposed Land Needs Assessment Methodology (the “Methodology”) is found here.
The proposed changes, which are currently open for public comment until July 31, 2020, include updates and policy changes to the population and employment forecasts, a change to the Growth Plan horizon year, adjustments to the aggregates policy framework, new policies to address Major Transit Station Areas (“MTSAs”) within Provincially Significant Employment Zones (“PSEZs”), and other policy revisions to support an increase in housing supply, create more jobs, attract business investment, and better align infrastructure.
A link to the proposed amendments and background materials can be found here.
Proposed Amendments to the Growth Plan
The proposed amendments extend population and employment forecasts to 2051, from 2041 currently, to ensure municipalities have sufficient land to support the creation of complete communities. The amendments specify that that municipalities must use the forecasts in the Growth Plan, found in Schedule 3, or higher forecasts determined through a Municipal Comprehensive Review (“MCR”) process with a conformity deadline of July 2022.
Further, the proposed amendments address Provincial objectives related to intensification surrounding MTSAs and would allow conversions of employment areas to non-employment areas within a PSEZ outside of an MCR that is located within an MTSA in order to allow for mixed-use developments to be approved more quickly. The amendments also outline the next steps to be taken in evolving PSEZ policies and how these areas can be used to support the post-COVID economic recovery, attract investment, and support the retention and expansion of manufacturing activity.
With regard to transition, it is contemplated that any Local Planning Appeal Tribunal matter where a hearing has been completed but a decision has yet to be issued would remain subject to the Growth Plan as it read prior these amendments but that all other matters would be required to conform to the Growth Plan as proposed to be amended.
Proposed Land Needs Assessment Methodology
Every municipality in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, as part of an MCR, must utilize the Methodology to assess the quantity of land required to accommodate forecasted growth. The proposed Methodology offers a simplified approach that will be forward looking and account for demographics, employment trends, market demand, and housing affordability. The Methodology emphasizes that municipalities must have enough land with servicing capacity to provide at least a three-year supply of residential units, and that they must plan to maintain the ability to accommodate residential growth for at least 15 years, consistent with the 2020 Provincial Policy Statement.
The Methodology contains a Community Land Area Land Needs Assessment used for housing, population-related jobs and office jobs and an Employment Area Land Need Assessment for all various types of employment.
When planning for community areas, municipalities must:
- Use the population and employment forecasts contained in Schedule 3 for planning and managing growth, as a minimum;
- Direct development to settlement areas, except where the policies permit otherwise;
- Plan to achieve minimum intensification and designated greenfield area density targets;
- Support the achievement of complete communities that offer and support opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to conveniently access most of the necessities for daily living, including an appropriate mix of jobs, local stores, and services, a full range of housing, transportation options and public service facilities;
- Consider the range and mix of housing options and densities of the existing housing stock and plan to diversify housing options in the future, including additional residential units and affordable housing, to serve all sizes, incomes and ages of households; and
- Plan for a more compact built form that reduces the rate at which land is consumed and supports the integration and sustained viability of transit services.
When planning for employment, municipalities must:
- Within settlement areas, make more efficient use of existing employment areas, vacant and underutilized employment lands, and increase employment densities;
- Direct major office and appropriate institutional development to urban growth centres, major transit station areas and other strategic growth areas with existing or planned frequent transit service;
- Direct retail and office uses to locations that support active transportation and have existing or planned transit;
- Prohibit or establish a size and scale threshold to prohibit any major retail exceeding this threshold in employment areas; and
- Provide for economic activity on rural lands that is appropriate in scale and type to the rural context.
The team at Davies Howe would be delighted to answer any questions you may have pertaining to the proposed amendments to the Growth Plan and how it may affect your current and future development projects.