Trump gives green light to start rene­go­ti­at­ing the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment

New poli­cies to curb ur­ban sprawl in GTHA call for more jobs, green space and hous­ing


— On­tario’s anti-sprawl poli­cies, which some crit­ics have blamed for the cur­rent hous­ing sup­ply short­age in Toronto and the sur­round­ing ar­eas, are go­ing to get tougher, with the gov­ern­ment de­mand­ing that most fu­ture devel­op­ment in the prov­ince’s south take place in ex­ist­ing neigh­bour­hoods.

Any fu­ture projects on un­de­vel­oped land will have to ac­com­mo­date more peo­ple and jobs — a min­i­mum of 80 per hectare, up from the cur­rent 50 — and there will be higher den­sity tar­gets around GO Tran­sit and sub­way sta­tions, light rail and bus rapid tran­sit.The prov­ince is giv­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties un­til 2031 to meet the new, tougher tar­gets set out in its up­dated growth plan for the Greater Golden Horse­shoe re­gion, which stretches from the Ni­a­gara Re­gion to Peter­bor­ough. The new rules will be phased in, with in­terim tar­gets in 2022.

Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Bill Mauro said Thurs­day that the ob­jec­tive of the plan is “build­ing com­plete and more com­pact com­mu­ni­ties, that sup­port tran­sit, cre­ate jobs, re­duce sprawl and pro­tect our en­vi­ron­ment.”

Un­der the plan, 60 per cent of new res­i­den­tial devel­op­ment will take place in al­ready de­vel­oped ar­eas, up from 40 per cent to­day.

The growth plan is meant to ac­com­mo­date the grow­ing pop­u­la­tion in the Greater Golden Horse­shoe, which is ex­pected to reach 13.5 mil­lion by 2041, an in­crease of four mil­lion peo­ple.

The prov­ince’s growth plan has been fac­ing some crit­i­cism, es­pe­cially from build­ing in­dus­try groups that ar­gue it pre­vents them from build­ing more de­tached homes and town­homes that would ease some of the pres­sure on the hous­ing mar­ket in the Greater Toronto and Hamil­ton Area.

But pro­po­nents of the plan say it pro­tects agri­cul­tural and eco­log­i­cally sen­si­tive land and cre­ates walk­a­ble com­mu­ni­ties that can be well-served by tran­sit.

Oakville Mayor Rob Bur­ton wel­comed the plan, say­ing the kind of dense devel­op­ment the growth plan sup­ports can be main­tained with lower tax rates than ur­ban sprawl.

“The may­ors have been lob­by­ing for these changes for more than two years, and it’s a very good day for our res­i­dents,” said Bur­ton.

The up­date also adds ur­ban river val­leys and coastal wet­lands to the Green­belt — an 800,000-hectare area of farm­land, green space and wet­lands around the Greater Toronto and Hamil­ton Area that is pro­tected from devel­op­ment. The changes also es­tab­lish stronger pro­tec­tions of wa­ter sys­tems, and loosen some of its rules con­cern­ing the uses of farm­land.

The prov­ince was ex­pected to bring in new rules fol­low­ing rec­om­men­da­tions from an ex­pert panel that stud­ied the gov­ern­ment’s four land-use plans — the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horse­shoe, the Ni­a­gara Es­carp­ment Plan, the Green­belt Plan and the Oak Ridges Mo­raine Con­ser­va­tion plan — for two years. The panel rec­om­mended up­dates to each of the plans. The up­dates to the Ni­a­gara Es­carp­ment Plan will come into force on June 1, and the other three plans on July 1.

Former Toronto mayor David Crom­bie, who chaired the ex­pert panel, said po­lit­i­cal lead­ers should em­power a sec­re­tariat within gov­ern­ment to make sure the land-use plans are fol­lowed on the ground.

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