The story so far

Comparing the original population and employment forecasts with the 2011 census

The 2001–2031 growth forecasts in the Growth Plan were developed in 2005 using information from 2001 census figures[1] (taken a few months before the economic downturn that followed the events of September 11, 2001), since the 2006 census figures were unavailable when the Plan was prepared. Now that 2011 census figures are available, it is possible to compare the first forecast period in the Plan with actual growth experienced by municipalities. Table 3.1 shows the results of this comparison.

Table 3.1: Comparison of Growth Plan population forecasts, 2001–11, and 2011 census population

Upper- and Single-Tier Municipalities

2011 Population1

2011 Population Forecast2

Difference Between Actual 2011 Population vs. 2011 Forecast Population

Difference Between Actual 2011 Population vs. 2011 Forecast Population (%)

City of Toronto

2,725,000

2,760,000

-35,000

-1%

Region of Durham

631,000

660,000

-29,000

-4%

Region of York

1,072,000

1,060,000

12,000

1%

Region of Peel

1,350,000

1,320,000

30,000

2%

Region of Halton

520,000

520,000

0

0%

City of Hamilton

540,000

540,000

0

0%

INNER RING TOTAL

6,838,000

6,860,000

-22,000

0%

County of Northumberland

85,000

87,000

-2,000

-2%

County of Peterborough

57,000

58,000

-1,000

-2%

City of Peterborough

82,000

79,000

3,000

4%

City of Kawartha Lakes

75,000

80,000

-5,000

-6%

County of Simcoe

288,000

294,000

-6,000

-2%

City of Barrie

141,000

157,000

-16,000

-10%

City of Orillia

32,000

33,000

-1,000

-3%

County of Dufferin

59,000

62,000

-3,000

-5%

County of Wellington

90,000

91,000

-1,000

-1%

City of Guelph

126,000

132,000

-6,000

-5%

Region of Waterloo

528,000

526,000

2,000

0%

County of Brant

37,000

39,000

-2,000

-5%

City of Brantford

96,000

102,000

-6,000

-6%

County of Haldimand

46,000

49,000

-3,000

-6%

Region of Niagara

446,000

442,000

4,000

1%

OUTER RING TOTAL

2,188,000

2,231,000

-43,000

-2%

GGH TOTAL

9,026,000

9,091,000

-65,000

-1%

1 Greater Golden Horseshoe Growth Forecasts to 2041, Technical Report, November 2012, Hemson Consulting Ltd.
2 Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006, Office Consolidation, January 2012, Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure.
Note: 2011 Population and 2011 Growth Plan Population Forecasts include an undercount, which adjusts the population to account for people who were not enumerated.

 

Table 3.1 indicates that in 2011 the total population of the GGH was only slightly less than the level predicted by the growth forecasts, but the location of the total population varied considerably, in some cases by as much as 10%. In the Inner Ring, the forecasts underestimated growth in York and Peel Regions and overestimated growth in the City of Toronto and Durham Region. In the Outer Ring, the most notable discrepancy is that for Barrie, which in 2011 had 16,000 fewer people than the forecast had predicted.

A more revealing method of assessing the accuracy of the Growth Plan forecast, however, is to compare the amount of growth experienced with the amount of growth forecast, rather than comparing the total population forecast with the actual total population.  

Table 3.2 compares the actual amount of growth as recorded in census counts to the forecast amount of population growth in the Growth Plan. The results are revealing. The differences in growth are much greater compared with the differences in total population shown in Table 3.1. For example, the City of Brantford had a difference of -5% when comparing total population but a -75% difference when compared to the forecast growth, and the City of Toronto 1% versus -21%. More than half of municipalities in the GGH missed their growth forecast by +/- 25%. The County of Haldimand missed the growth forecast by -100%, the City of Peterborough exceeded its forecast by 60%.

The differences between the actual growth and forecast growth are more notable in the Outer Ring compared with the Inner Ring. The Region of Waterloo had the most accurate growth forecast in the Outer Ring, exceeding the forecast by only 3%.

Table 3.2: Comparison of Growth Plan forecast population growth, 2001-2011, and census counts

 

Upper- and Single-Tier Municipalities

2001 Population Forecast1

2011 Population Forecast1

Forecast Population Growth 2001-2011

2011 Population2

Actual Population Growth 2001-2011

Difference Between Actual Population Growth 2001-2011 vs. Forecast Population Growth 2001-2011

Difference Between Actual Population Growth vs. Forecast Population Growth 2001-2011 (%)

City of Toronto

2,590,000

2,760,000

170,000

2,725,000

135,000

-35,000

-21%

Region of Durham

530,000

660,000

130,000

631,000

101,000

-29,000

-22%

Region of York

760,000

1,060,000

300,000

1,072,000

312,000

12,000

4%

Region of Peel

1,030,000

1,320,000

290,000

1,350,000

320,000

30,000

10%

Region of Halton

390,000

520,000

130,000

520,000

130,000

0

0%

City of Hamilton

510,000

540,000

30,000

540,000

30,000

0

0%

INNER RING TOTAL

5,810,000

6,860,000

1,050,000

6,838,000

1,028,000

-22,000

-2%

County of Northumberland

80,000

87,000

7,000

85,000

5,000

-2,000

-29%

County of Peterborough

56,000

58,000

2,000

57,000

1,000

-1,000

-50%

City of Peterborough

74,000

79,000

5,000

82,000

8,000

3,000

60%

City of Kawartha Lakes

72,000

80,000

8,000

75,000

3,000

-5,000

-63%

County of Simcoe

254,000

294,000

40,000

288,000

34,000

-6,000

-15%

City of Barrie

108,000

157,000

49,000

141,000

33,000

-16,000

-33%

City of Orillia

30,000

33,000

3,000

32,000

2,000

-1,000

-33%

County of Dufferin

53,000

62,000

9,000

59,000

6,000

-3,000

-33%

County of Wellington

85,000

91,000

6,000

90,000

5,000

-1,000

-17%

City of Guelph

110,000

132,000

22,000

126,000

16,000

-6,000

-27%

Region of Waterloo

456,000

526,000

70,000

528,000

72,000

2,000

3%

County of Brant

35,000

39,000

4,000

37,000

2,000

-2,000

-50%

City of Brantford

94,000

102,000

8,000

96,000

2,000

-6,000

-75%

County of Haldimand

46,000

49,000

3,000

46,000

0

-3,000

-100%

Region of Niagara

427,000

442,000

15,000

446,000

19,000

4,000

27%

OUTER RING TOTAL

1,980,000

2,231,000

251,000

2,188,000

208,000

-43,000

-17%

GGH TOTAL

7,790,000

9,091,000

1,301,000

9,026,000

1,236,000

-65,000

-5%

1 Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006, Office Consolidation, January 2012, Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure.
2 Hemson Consulting Ltd., Greater Golden Horseshoe Growth Forecasts to 2041, Technical Report, November 2012.
Note: 2011 Population and 2001 and 2011 Growth Plan Population Forecasts include an undercount, which adjusts the population to account for people who were not enumerated.

 

The amount of growth allocated to each lower-tier is at the discretion of the upper-tier municipalities, and different upper tiers have taken different approaches to this allocation exercise. Appendix D shows the allocation of growth by all upper-tier municipalities to all lower-tier municipalities. Figure 3.1 shows the allocation of growth for three regional municipalities: Waterloo, Halton, and Peel.

Figure 3.1: Allocation of population growth by upper-tier municipalities to lower-tier municipalities: Waterloo, Halton, and Peel Regions, 2001–2031

In Waterloo and Peel Regions, most growth is allocated to historically urbanized areas. In Halton, by comparison, growth allocated to the well-established communities of Oakville and Burlington is far surpassed by that allocated to the town of Milton (its population is planned to increase by 600%). This growth allocation in Halton Region does not appear to reflect the goals of the Growth Plan, since it requires the creation of new infrastructure to serve the additional population in Milton, rather than making more effective use of infrastructure available in the already urbanized areas of Oakville and Burlington.

The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario has noted that the “Growth Plan allows growth and intensification to take place in watersheds where communities are already struggling with water supply and wastewater treatment issues. These communities will eventually require major upgrades to their water and wastewater infrastructure to accommodate the projected population growth.”[2] Such upgrades would perpetuate the problems identified in the introduction to the Growth Plan. “New infrastructure is being built to service lower-density areas, while existing infrastructure in the older parts of our communities remains underutilized.”[3] The Growth Plan was developed to prevent this unnecessary expansion of infrastructure.

In 2013, Growth Plan Amendment no. 2 removed the original 2001–2031 growth forecasts of the Growth Plan released in 2006 and replaced them with forecasts for the 2031–2041 period. The new forecasts also included transitional forecasts, which acknowledge the original 2031 forecasts adopted by municipalities over the past seven years through conformity amendments.

It remains to be seen what will happen at the time of the 10-year review of the Growth Plan. As the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario notes, “It is unclear whether the GGH Plan will allow for radical reductions in growth allocations if major shortcomings in water and wastewater servicing emerge in communities targeted for growth.”[4]

 

[1] Hemson Consulting Ltd., Greater Golden Horseshoe Growth Forecasts to 2041, Technical Report, November 2012.
[2] Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, ECO Issues: http://www.ecoissues.ca/index.php/Category:Places_to_Grow_Act
[3] Growth Plan, Section 1.1.
[4] Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, ECO Issues: http://www.ecoissues.ca/index.php/Category:Places_to_Grow_Act