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The Ontario, Canada Greater Golden Horseshoe’s “Smart” Growth Plan

Press Release

June 30 — The Government of Ontario launches historic plan to manage growth and development in Canada's most populous region.

The Provincial Government of Ontario, Canada released the first ever Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe on June 16, 2006.

The Greater Golden Horseshoe (with Toronto at its centre) is the third fastest growing urban region in North America. This region represents two-thirds of Ontario's population, and it is projected to attract an additional 3.7 million people and 1.8 million jobs by 2031.

Upon its release, the Growth Plan won praise from municipal, business and environmental leaders in Ontario and beyond.

“This plan will be a model for all of North America. In my work as Smart Growth Leadership Institute President, it is among the very best I have seen anywhere,” said Parris N. Glendening, President of the Smart Growth Leadership Institute.

The Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, part of the province's Places to Grow initiative, sets out a vision and strategic policy direction for managing growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe and will establish a number of firsts for planning in Ontario. The Growth Plan includes a system of urban nodes connected by transit, policies supporting transit and pedestrian-oriented development with minimum targets for urban intensification and new greenfield densities, and clear linkages between infrastructure investment and land use planning. These policies are focused on creating more livable and complete communities, with the right mix of housing, jobs and services that reduce sprawl and help protect important natural areas and agricultural lands.

The Plan released on June 16 builds on input and comments from hundreds of citizens and stakeholders received over two years of consultation.

William H. Hudnut, Chair for Public Policy at the Urban Land Institute (and former Mayor of Indianapolis and Indiana Congressman) said “Places to Grow points to a better and smarter way: strategic government planning and investment that produce communities with the right mix of housing, a good range of jobs, convenient transit, and easy access to stores and services to meet people's daily needs.”

The Growth Plan is backed up by provincial legislation, passed by the Ontario Legislature in June 2005, that requires all local planning decisions to conform to the policies contained in the provincial plan.

“I congratulate Ontario for showing the leadership to confront urban sprawl and adopt a plan that is focused on revitalizing urban centres and towns, creating complete communities in new suburban areas, balancing development of jobs, and housing and conserving nature. Experience across North America demonstrates that good plans foster communities where people want to live, and businesses choose to invest,” said John Norquist, President of the Congress for the New Urbanism.

Consultation, stakeholder engagement and consensus building have been central to the province's Places to Grow growth planning initiative. The Growth Plan has received support from a broad cross section of interests.

Toronto Mayor David Miller said “The province should be commended for delivering this Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. It will support Toronto's efforts for intensification in our urban centres, protect our valuable natural and cultural heritage, and support the economic competitiveness of the City of Toronto and the entire region.”

Chris Winter, Executive Director of one of the province's leading environmental organizations, the Conservation Council of Ontario, said, “For over two decades we”ve had poorly planned growth that has eaten up prime farmland and given us smog and gridlock. Now, finally, we have a chance to build more compact, transit-supportive, cycling and pedestrian-friendly communities. This is a positive step towards healthier communities and a stronger, more resilient economy.”

Neil Rodgers, President of Ontario's Urban Development Institute said, “The Growth Plan is a significant achievement that will ensure the future growth and economic competitiveness of the region and province. It demonstrates the province's leadership in planning for growth and infrastructure investment in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.”

Among the key provisions contained in the Growth Plan:

-A minimum of 40% of new residential development must occur through intensification of existing built up areas by 2015 and each year thereafter.

-New greenfield development will need to be transit supportive and achieve densities of at least 50 people and jobs per hectare (just over 20 people and jobs per acre).

-The identification of 25 key downtowns as urban growth centres and focal points for infrastructure investment.

-Minimum density targets in downtown urban growth centres, ranging from 150 to 400 people and jobs per hectare (from 60 to just over 160 people and jobs per acre), to support revitalization and their role as centres for culture, transit and recreation, as well as economic growth generators.

-A series of tests that must be met prior to allowing urban boundary expansions or conversion of employment lands.

The Growth Plan builds on the Greenbelt Plan, a new government plan that took effect on December 14, 2004 and protects 1.8 million acres at the heart of the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

The Growth Plan was developed by the Ontario Growth Secretariat, a government department within the Ontario Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal, the Ministry responsible for the province's infrastructure investments. The Growth Plan includes policies to match this infrastructure investment with the policies and objectives of the Growth Plan.

For more information, or for a copy of the Growth Plan, contact the Ontario Growth Secretariat at 1-866-479-9781 or visit www.ontario.ca/placestogrow.

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