David Crombie reports on health of Greenbelt
Former mayor says we are sprawling less but population set to hit 1.79 mil by 2041
One of my first columns was about the province reviewing its growth legislation and what it means for York Region. Now the report is out and, not surprisingly, there’s more work to be done.
Planning for Health, Prosperity and Growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe: 2015–2041, was authored by a committee chaired by former Toronto mayor David Crombie. It has much to say about everything from climate change to supporting agriculture and recognizing Aboriginal rights, but at its core is an exploration of how we’re doing fighting sprawl.
There’s a lot of nuance in the 180page document, but it boils down to the following:
• We are sprawling less than we used to, but without further policy actions, the work to date won’t add up to much.
• We need to do a much better job co-ordinating the growth plan with the plans for the Greenbelt, Niagara Escarpment and Oak Ridges Moraine, not to mention crucial infrastructure, like Metrolinx’s the Big Move. The big picture goals are the same across all the plans, but they have different terminologies, slightly different intents and are governed by different ministries and cover different areas.
• The municipalities in the Golden Horseshoe are required to contain a minimum of 40 per cent of all new growth within the exiting urban area, but it’s a minimum exceeded by almost no one.
The rubber has hit the proverbial road here in York Region, where the population is set to hit 1.79 million by 2041. The Crombie report explicitly criticizes municipalities for treating the minimum as a maximum, but last month York Region reaffirmed its commitment to do just that, out to 2041. The region’s planning staff looked at a several scenarios, ultimately saying they felt 50 per cent would unduly affect the housing market but 45 per cent was a fair compromise.
Residents, they noted, supported higher targets, whereas the development industry wanted the 40 per cent minimum. Council voted for 40 per cent. Already, one-third of York Region’s land is in the Greenbelt and/or Oak Ridges Moraine, so all our growth has to fit into what’s left.
We want homes for families, of course, but we also know that, if we keep building them way “out there,” it just means more costs, more traffic and a host of other problems.
This is particularly true if we increase density only in residential
The Greenbelt is under constant threat from development