Implementing Residential Intensification Targets

The Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (2006), the Province of Ontario’s growth plan for the Toronto region, requires all municipalities to accommodate growth by first looking inward to their already-urbanized areas before considering greenfield development. This principle is formalized through an intensification policy and target. However, Ontario municipalities had not been tracking residential intensification in a uniform manner before the policy and target were put in place, so there were no records of just how much intensification was already occurring. This paper describes how the Province’s intensification target works both in principle and practice through an examination of historical rates of intensification. It takes a closer look at the concept of defining the urbanized boundary for the purposes of implementing and measuring the intensification target. Although the research is primarily directed to Ontario municipalities that are in the process of implementing the intensification target and developing a strategy for intensification, the findings of the research will interest all planners and policy-makers who are striving to achieve more compact and sustainable development.