The Growth Plan is not intended to be a static document. Provisions in the Growth Plan and the Places to Grow Act indicate the need to review, update, and amend the Growth Plan over time. The Minister of Infrastructure has the authority to initiate a review of the Growth Plan and the decision-making authority related to the approval of any updates or amendments. As of late 2013, two amendments have been made.
Amendment 1: Simcoe Sub-area
The first amendment to the Growth Plan came into effect on January 19, 2012, and applies to the Simcoe Sub-area. The Places to Grow website states that the Amendment 1 “provides more specific direction for municipalities in Simcoe County and the cities of Barrie and Orillia to implement the Growth Plan.”
Amendment 1 added one new section (Section 6), two new schedules (Schedules 7 and 8) and new definitions to the Growth Plan. It introduced population and employment forecasts (Schedule 7) for the City of Barrie, City of Orillia, and County of Simcoe, including each of the lower-tier municipalities, to 2031. The amendment also identified seven Primary Settlement Areas and four employment areas totalling 1,860 hectares (Schedule 8). The location of each of the primary settlement areas and employment areas are shown in Figure 1.6.
Figure 1.6: Simcoe Sub-area
Source: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006
Amendment 2: 2041 population and employment forecasts
The second amendment to the Growth Plan came into effect June 17, 2013, and applies to all municipalities in the GGH. The amendment updates and extends the population and employment growth forecasts to 2041 and replaces Schedule 3 of the Growth Plan (see section 2.2.1 for more information on the 2031 forecasts). The amendment includes two sets of forecasts for 2031 (existing forecasts and updated forecasts) to avoid disrupting ongoing Growth Plan conformity work by municipalities.
Amendment 2 was made possible by a provision in the Growth Plan that allows the Minister of Infrastructure to review the forecasts contained in Schedule 3 at least every five years and to revise them if necessary. Municipalities are required to update their official plans to conform with Amendment 2 by June 17, 2018. The Places to Grow website states that Amendment 2 was necessary to provide “forecasts for long-term planning for the right infrastructure, including transit, water and wastewater systems, transportation corridors and community infrastructure, for the future.”
Although some observers have argued that the new forecasts are premature, they do ensure a longer planning horizon. Since the Provincial Policy Statement, 2005, requires municipalities to maintain a 20-year supply of land, which as of 2013 means planning to 2033, the extension of the forecasts to 2041 allows municipalities to comply with this requirement. Moreover, infrastructure planning requires very long lead times; some have suggested that even the 28-year period to 2041 is a fairly short time in which to plan important infrastructure for such a rapidly growing region.