Changes to the Growth Plan: Submission to County of Brant Corporate Development Committee by Ella Haley

Proposed Changes to the Growth Plan- Deadline for comment is Feb. 28, 2019
The proposed changes will weaken and/or eliminate important provincial planning rules designed to prevent urban sprawl in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area.

Key Concerns about the Proposed Changes*:

  • Sprawl driven planning – The proposed Growth Plan changes will weaken the provincial Development Land Needs Assessment rules that municipalities must follow and allow municipal urban boundary expansions without strong evidence of need. It will be easier for municipalities to create more urban sprawl.
  • Weakened density targets – Municipal requirements for using land efficiently within urban areas will be weakened to allow more low-density sprawl in these areas.
  • Urban boundaries – will be allowed to expand onto farmland at the behest of developers instead of only during periodic Municipal Planning Reviews. This threatens the local farming economy.Employment lands – will be allowed to be converted to residential and other uses. This change underscores the fact that there are currently, in place, employment lands in excess of demand. This means that the employment lands could become residential sprawl.
  • Massive farmland grab – The province will allow precious farmland to be converted to employment lands, despite the absence of demonstrated need for more employment land in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area. This ignores that farming is employment land creating jobs and driving the agricultural economy.
  • No new affordable housing – There are no changes to the Growth Plan that specifically mandate the creation of affordable housing – a curious thing when you consider the government’s claim that these changes are about making housing more affordable.
  • Climate Change – The government is proposing to remove any mention of climate change as an issue to be addressed in municipal plans.
  • Transit station density – Increased density will be allowed within 800 metres of existing and future transit stations. The current zone is 500 metres so this will increase the area where greater density can be developed. This may be beneficial in some areas.
  • Overall, the proposed changes fail to address the Greater Golden Horseshoe’s affordable housing problem and favour costly low-density sprawl. What the region needs are more stringent protection of farmland, and housing options for renters and owners, within our cities, close to where people want to live, work and play. We do not need more sprawling subdivisions on farmland, forests and the source of our drinking water.
  • *This list of key proposed changes to the Growth Plan has been prepared by Environmental Defence.
  • See:

Recommendation to Council/Committee

That Council oppose proposed changes that favour low-density sprawl and that threaten farmland, and the local farming community.