Hazel McCallion, the former mayor of Mississauga and ex-officio Advisor to the Premier on issues within the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), hosted a summit of GTHA mayors and chairs to hear from municipal officials on the province’s Co-Ordinated Land Use Planning Review. The meeting was called as a result of the GTHA municipalities raising concerns on Ontario’s proposed amendments to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe and Greenbelt Plan.
“We heard consistent messages from the mayors and chairs, related to the proposed density targets being too high, about what their cities and towns will look like under the proposed plan, as that certain types of density will end up in areas that do not have the necessary planned or existing transit, infrastructure, community services and corresponding financial investments to support that type of growth,” said McCallion. “This comes with zero consideration for the financial and economic implications to the municipalities and regions. I am very concerned that these plans are absent of any direction or planning for economic growth.”
The summit allowed municipal colleagues to collectively share concerns and recommendations on the proposed draft amendments to the Greenbelt and Growth Plans, which Councils will be submitting to the province by October 31st.
“I heard overwhelming concern today from my municipal colleagues on the proposed density and intensification targets,” said McCallion. “Some municipalities are clear they just cannot support them. Some say that they should be applied to areas where it makes the best planning sense. What’s clear is that the province has not looked at the impact of the proposed policies on each municipality and it cannot be applied the same way across the GTHA. This is not evident-based planning.”
McCallion will use the summit findings to inform her report to the Premier on all of the issues impacting GTHA municipalities and their residents as a result of the Proposed Plans. Specifically, McCallion is concerned with how the plans will impact affordability and housing choice.
Among all the changes, the proposed amendments to the Growth Plan require the current Designated Greenfield Area density of 50 residents and jobs per hectare to be increased to 80 residents and job per hectare, and the intensification target for built areas is proposed to increase from 40 to 60 per cent.
“The message was clear – one size does not fit all. As a group, the municipalities are united in opposing this approach with does not respect individual city building process and differences across the GTHA regions,” added McCallion. “Local government is closest to the people. Municipalities need to make local decisions, and it will be the municipalities that are left to implement these plans at a time when we are only beginning to see the impacts of the first Greenbelt and Growth Plans. We recognize it’s very hard for the province to understand the differences among municipalities, but they cannot be ignored.”
Photo courtesy of Joey Coleman.