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The Greater Golden Horseshoe could become greater, golder, and greener: Ontario updates land use plans

In an effort to improve livability in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, while protecting the environment, Ontario has passed updated land use plans intended to encourage sustainable communities. The plans were released on May 18, 2017 after two years of review.

 

Development meets green. New rules were announced for Ontario with changes to Greenbelt Plan, the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, and the Niagara Escarpment Plan.

 

These include updates to the Greenbelt Plan, the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, and the Niagara Escarpment Plan. The changes are designed to ensure growth through efficient use of the land and its resources.

Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe is subject to updated development and greenbelt rules.

Designated Prime Employment Areas

The Greater Golden Horseshoe area of Ontario includes a wide mix of urban, rural, agricultural, resources and expanding development of land.

In addition to protecting the land, the updated plan will create jobs and improve the economy. This will be achieved by designating a new prime employment area for manufacturing, warehousing, and logistics. Major retail, however, will be directed to mixed-use areas which are accessible by transit in order to meet the needs of local citizens.

A great deal of time and planning went into these changes. Since beginning the review in February 2015, the province has held multiple rounds of public consultations and 29 open houses and workshops, which were attended by over 4,600 people. They also established an advisory panel that put forth 87 recommendations to improve and update the plans, while reviewing over 42,000 written submissions and engaging with the region’s First Nations and Métis communities.

Farmland and Water Resources Stronger Protections

The changes set forth in this upgraded plan will increase job growth, as well as support the environment. Farmland and water resource systems will be protected and strengthened. Ontario’s Greenbelt contains over two million acres of land that includes farmland, green space, forests, wetlands, and communities. The Greenbelt and other plans work together to protect such lands as well as Ontario’s rich natural and cultural heritage.

 

Ontario highways connect the many towns and urban areas throughout the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

 

The update is intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as make preparations designed to minimize the impact of climate change and natural disasters. By implementing these changes, Ontario hopes to increase the overall health and well-being of its citizens while providing them with a place they will be happy to call home.

Municipalities More Independent

Vines in Niagara, Ontario.

Communities will be built with transportation needs in mind. They will be located in areas where access to local transit is readily available. Municipalities will gain more independence and the ability to easily and effectively resolve disputes without needing to go before the Ontario Municipal Board. This includes granting them an additional 90 days to resolve disputes involving official plans and amendments. They will be able to receive more funding for transit services and waste diversion.

Residents will have more say in how their communities grow. They will have a wide range of housing options to fit their needs, while gaining access to parks and other open, green recreational areas.

The Community Planning Permit System is designed to encourage innovative strategies for addressing local needs in the planning of these communities.

Residents, citizen representatives, and other stakeholders will have greater involvement in the overall process and likely will find the changes to be mutually beneficial.

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