David Crom­bie re­ports on health of Green­belt

For­mer mayor says we are sprawl­ing less but pop­u­la­tion set to hit 1.79 mil by 2041

Richmond Hill Post - - News -

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

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