Toronto, ON – Today Environmental Defence launched a new report, From Dumb Growth to Smart Growth: Actions to Strengthen the Greenbelt and the Growth Plan. The report shows that dumb growth (sprawl) has left us with huge municipal infrastructure debts, degraded water quality, and destroyed farmland and forests. The report highlights a blueprint for smarter growth.
“It’s time to leave old-style sprawl so we can build walkable, transit-friendly communities that are better for our health, wallets, and environment,” says Tim Gray, Executive Director of Environmental Defence. “The Greater Golden Horseshoe needs to grow up and in, instead of out.”
Ontario’s Greenbelt Plan and Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, both now under provincial review, were enacted 10 years ago with the promise of stopping sprawl and protecting, restoring and enhancing our farmland, water and nature.
“While the plans are a step in the right direction, they need improvements to ensure smarter growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe,” Gray says.
The report identifies seven actions that the province should take to replace dumb growth with smart growth. Recommendations include:
Freezing the urban boundary expansion for the next 10 years. There is more than enough land allocated for residential development for the next 20 years – without sprawling over more farms and forests.
Enforcing the Growth Plan’s targets for intensification to ensure more growth in already urbanized areas. Filling empty lots with mid-rise mixed use building can provide housing and jobs while creating walkable, dynamic city centres.
In towns and villages, align growth with existing water, roads, sewer and transit capacity rather than sprawling subdivisions that require costly new highways.
Prioritizing investment in transit, rail and existing highways so that the transportation network will better serve and reinforce smart growth rather than sprawl.
Other actions include: expanding the Greenbelt to protect the best agricultural lands and natural heritage systems including water sources, addressing climate change, better aligning the Growth Plan with the Big Move transit plan objectives, and requiring active transportation plans.
As the report explains, smarter growth does not mean giant condos but size-appropriate growth. In a small town, that could mean 2-3 storey mixed-use buildings. The report offers examples from communities who are leading the way in smart growth.
The report also highlights the benefits of compact growth including:
Enabling more investment in public transit like regional and local rapid transit so more of us can move between work, school and home faster
Saving municipalities up to 40 per cent of the costs for providing residents with services like water, sewers and hydro
Savings to residents (up to $200,000 over a 25-year mortgage) for no longer needing two cars
A lower carbon footprint: Compact communities have three times less carbon emissions than sprawl subdivisions.
Read the full report at: StopDumbGrowth.ca
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.
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