The land supply question

A final, and crucial, question is how much land the GGH needs to accommodate the forecast growth.

The Growth Plan requires that the Ministry of Infrastructure, in consultation with municipalities, map the outer edge of each municipality’s existing built-up area (known as the built boundary). Growth inside this boundary is considered to be intensification; growth outside (but still within the settlement area boundary) is considered greenfield area development and is to occur on “designated greenfield areas,” many of which were designated for development long before the Growth Plan was put in place in 2006 (see Figure 1.5). Any further designation of land for urban uses must occur through a “settlement area boundary expansion,” which requires the municipality to demonstrate that it is not possible to accommodate further growth through intensification opportunities or on the existing designated greenfield areas.[1]

To answer the land requirements question, municipalities must determine:

  • The amount of residential development that will be accommodated in the form of intensification
  • The number of hectares of designated greenfield area and its capacity for development
  • The number of hectares proposed to be added to the designated greenfield areas through a settlement area boundary expansion.

In calculating these numbers, a range of factors must be considered, such as the proposed mix of housing types, the proportion of housing to employment, household size, and employment forecasts.

Each municipality has made its own calculation of land requirements, but at this point, the Province has not published overall totals for designated greenfield areas or settlement boundary expansions for the region as a whole. The Neptis Foundation therefore conducted its own research to determine the cumulative total for these numbers across each municipality in the GGH, using information from official municipal plans, official plan amendments, and other planning documents.[2] Tables 3.9 and 3.10 and Figure 3.9 show these totals. Figure 3.10 indicates these areas on a map of the GGH.

Table 3.9: Cumulative totals of land designated by municipalities for growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe

 

Hectares

Percentage

Built-Up Area (as of 2006) 1

329,800 ha

76

Designated Greenfield Areas (as of 2006) 2

88,000 ha

20

New Designated Greenfield Areas (added since 2006) 2

19,100 ha

4

Total3

436,900 ha

100

1 Built Boundary for the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006 (2008), Ontario Ministry Infrastructure.
2 Calculated by the Neptis Foundation as determined through the review of municipal official plans, official plan amendments, and other planning documents; see Appendix A for methodology, Appendix B for sources, and Appendix C for the land area inventory by municipality.
3 The Simcoe Sub-area employment areas (1,860 ha) and the rural settlement areas (47,900 ha) were not included in the total.
Figure 3.9: Land designated for growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe

Figure 3.10: Location of land designated for growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe

Table 3.10: Cumulative totals of land designated by municipalities for growth, by Inner and Outer Ring

 

Inner Ring

Outer Ring

GGH TOTAL

Built-Up Area (as of 2006)1

225,000 ha

104,800 ha

329,800 ha

Designated Greenfield Areas (as of 2006)2

45,200 ha

42,800 ha

88,000 ha

New Designated Greenfield Areas (added since 2006)2

11,000 ha

8,100 ha

19,100 ha

Total Area3

281,200 ha

155,700 ha

436,900 ha

1 Built Boundary for the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006 (2008), Ontario Ministry Infrastructure.
2 Calculated by the Neptis Foundation as determined through the review of municipal official plans, official plan amendments, and other planning documents; see Appendix A for methodology, Appendix B for sources, and Appendix C for the land area inventory by municipality.
3 The Simcoe Sub-area employment areas (1,860 ha) and the rural settlement areas (47,900 ha) were not included in the total.
Figure 3.11: Comparison of land designated for growth, Inner and Outer Ring

By comparing the land totals with the growth forecasts (see Table 3.11), we can see that the Inner Ring will be adding more than three times the number of people and almost four times as many jobs as the Outer Ring. Yet the Outer Ring is adding an area of land to the built-up area that is only 10% less than the amount to be added in the Inner Ring.

Table 3.11 also indicates that according to current municipal plans, 107,100 hectares of land are expected to be urbanized in the GGH by 2031. When compared to the existing urbanized area (Built-Up Area) as delineated in 2006, the new urbanized area represents a 33% increase in size of the built-up urban footprint of the region, roughly four times the size of the City of Mississauga or one and a half times the City of Toronto.

Table 3.11: Comparison of Inner and Outer Rings in the amount of land required to accommodate growth

 

Inner Ring

Outer Ring

GGH TOTAL

Forecast Population growth 2001 to 20311

2,810,000 people

900,000 people

3,710,000 people

Forecast Employment growth 2001 to 20311

1,380,000 jobs

370,000 jobs

1,750,000 jobs

Total forecast growth 2001 to 2031

(people and jobs)

4,190,000

1,270,000

5,460,000

Designated Greenfield Areas (as of 2006)2

45,200 ha

42,800 ha

88,000 ha

New Designated Greenfield Areas (added since 2006)2

11,000 ha

8,100 ha

19,100 ha

Total Designated Greenfield Areas

56,200 ha

50,900 ha

107,100 ha

Built-Up Area (as of 2006) 3

225,000 ha

104,800 ha

329,800 ha

Total Development Area

(Total Designated Greenfield Areas + Built-Up Area)

281,200 ha

155,700 ha

436,900 ha

1 Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure, Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006, Office Consolidation, January 2012.
2 Calculated by the Neptis Foundation as determined through the review of municipal official plans, official plan amendments, and other planning documents; see Appendix A for methodology, Appendix B for sources, and Appendix C for the land area inventory by municipality.
3 Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure, Built Boundary for the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006 (2008).

 

A summary of the 21 upper- and single-tier municipalities indicates the variation in land designated for growth across the GGH. Population and employment growth 2001–2031 were added as an indication of growth pressure. Figure 3.12 below indicates:

  • Which municipalities have the largest amount of existing Built-Up Area (shown in grey)
  • Which municipalities had the largest amounts of land designated for development before 2006 (shown in pink)
  • Which municipalities have proposed urban boundary expansions since 2006 that have resulted in the designation of new greenfield area lands (shown in purple).
Figure 3.12: Amount of land designated for development, by single- and upper-tier municipality

The relationship between the amount of land available and designated for growth and the increase in population is not consistent across municipalities. Compare, for example, the Region of Waterloo and the Region of Niagara: the former is accommodating much more growth, yet the land required to accommodate growth is roughly similar in both regions. Again, the amount of land planned to accommodate growth does not appear to represent a coordinated approach to growth management in the region.[3]

Figure 3.13 indicates the supply of land for urban growth and where urban expansion is occurring. Omitting the Built-Up Areas (the already urbanized areas as of 2006) allows for a comparison of the designated greenfield areas and new designated greenfield areas (added through settlement area boundary expansion since 2006) for each upper- and single-tier municipality. Simcoe County stands out for the amount of land to be urbanized relative to the forecast population and employment increase. The City of Barrie also stands out, as its new greenfield area is similar in size to the existing greenfield area. The City of Toronto stands out because growth is being accommodated entirely within the Built-Up Area without any additional designated greenfield areas.

Four of six municipalities in the Inner Ring and six of fifteen in the Outer Ring have undertaken urban boundary expansions that have resulted in the designation of new greenfield area lands for development. In total, about half of the upper- and single-tier municipalities in the GGH have expanded their urban boundaries to accommodate the forecast growth.

Figure 3.13: Land Supply for urban growth, by upper- and single-tier municipality, 2001-2031

 

[1] For Settlement Areas where a built boundary is undelineated, the entire settlement is considered to be built up. For Settlement Areas without a built boundary, the entire settlement is considered to be designated greenfield area.
[2] Due to the status of municipal Growth Plan conformity amendments, the new designated greenfield areas include both approved and proposed areas.
[3] All Designated Greenfield Area lands in the GGH may not be fully built out by 2031. There are some municipalities (e.g., Niagara Region and others) with more than a 25-year land supply. Presumably, however, any municipality that has made an expansion to a settlement area boundary that has resulted in the designation of new designated greenfield area lands will require all of the designated greenfield area land to accommodate the growth forecast.