Result is farmland unnecessarily destroyed, public transit undervalued and the stage set for a future housing supply crisis in the Greater Golden Horseshoe region

Toronto, ON – In Ontario, current Growth Plan legislation requires that developers “plan to achieve” density and intensification targets in order to increase the mix of housing types and direct growth away from prime farmland and sensitive natural areas. However, a new report by former Waterloo Region Director of Community Planning Kevin Eby shows that many developers prioritize low density sprawl. While they may claim to “plan to achieve” density, many never actually build mixed use, walkable affordable neighbourhoods intended by the plan.

The report shows that the predominant approach to Land Needs Assessments – the system developers use to determine the types of houses to build – undermines Ontario’s Growth Plan requirements, disregards public transit objectives, and is poised to create a housing supply crisis in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

Released by the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, the report, A Review of the Residential Land Needs Assessment Process Associated with Implementation of the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, found that the Land Needs Assessment System used by developers and municipalities results in:

  • Failure of new sprawl developments to create higher density of population needed for investment in public transit
  • Prime farmland paved over for low density development by cities and towns
  • Cities not redeveloping and infilling lands to the degree needed to save tax dollars on building new roads, sewers and water lines
  • Cities forced to build new roads, sewers and water lines to low density developments with no money to pay for them long-term
  • Housing needed by an aging baby boomer population not being built

“The requirements of Ontario’s Growth Plan are being gamed,” says Environmental Defence’s Erin Shapero. “Instead of following Growth Plan targets for increased density, some developers are exploiting a loophole in language and not fulfilling requirements. Developers are gobbling up more farmland than needed when Growth Plan policies indicate that cities and towns should be planned more efficiently, with more compact mixed-use developments including diverse, affordable housing options served by better public transit, resulting in walkable, transit-friendly healthy neighbourhoods.”

“Some developers are refusing to build the type of housing that an aging population will require, setting up municipalities and Ontarians for a housing crisis as boomers age and look to move out of their large suburban houses,” Shapero added. “This manipulation of the system must stop. If Ontario is serious about stopping costly sprawl in southern Ontario, the revised Growth Plan must close this loophole and freeze municipal urban boundary expansions for the next 10 years, until the next review of the Growth Plan.”

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Allen Braude, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext 247; 416-356-2587 (cell); abraude@environmentaldefence.ca