Statement from Phil Pothen, Ontario Environment Program Manager
Toronto | Traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabeg, the Haudenosaunee, and the Huron-Wendat – On Tuesday evening, Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark rejected the Official Plans approved by local councils in Waterloo, Peterborough, Barrie, Guelph, Belleville and Wellington, and instead forced significant urban expansions into surrounding farmland, forests and other natural areas.
Under the government’s own existing provincial planning rules, these important areas – particularly those around Waterloo region – should have been kept off limits to sprawl. By forcing even further outward boundary expansion, despite a desperate need for more density in existing neighbourhoods and a massive glut of unused greenfield within pre-2022 settlement boundaries (now at nearly 350 km2 in the GTAH alone), the Ontario government is attempting to “lock in” permission for needlessly destructive, car-dependent development patterns to continue well beyond 2051. Given the limits on Ontario’s construction capacity, actually moving ahead with inherently inefficient construction in these additional “greenfield” settlement areas would make it harder to end the province’s serious housing shortage. That is because this wasteful, resource-intensive construction would divert scarce labour and materials away from more efficient infill homes that would house more families more quickly by making use of roads, transit, schools and sewers within existing neighbourhoods.
“Any units that are built in these new designated greenfield areas will come at the expense of a larger number of more efficient, environmentally beneficial and lower-cost new family homes within the existing neighbourhoods where homes are needed. The best case scenario, for the sake of Ontario’s housing supply and environment, is that they remain unbuilt until these boundary expansions can be reversed,” Phil said.
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