It’s not hyperbole to say that the changes made recently by the province with respect to growth and planning take us back to the 1990s. Some of the problematic changes include:
- Density targets for our region have been scaled back tremendously.
This calculation outlines how efficiently we use land to house people and places of employment.
- The limits that were put on growth, previously known as population allocations, are now set as a minimum target, not as a maximum as they were before.
- Formerly, settlement areas could only be expanded during the Official Plan (OP) process, so long as evidence is presented to demonstrate need. Now they can be expanded up to 40 hectares outside of the OP period.
- New developments no longer need to prioritize being serviced by municipal water or wastewater – septics and communal septics are now allowed more easily.
This enables development to get into more natural, rural areas, and puts water quality at risk.
- Calculations to determine how much land must be set aside for new growth outside of built upon land have changed too.
The municipality must now plan for growth to 2051. This means that in the middle of a pandemic with no knowledge of how work/commute/travel patterns will change, municipalities must decide by June, 2022, how much new land to give up to development.
It also means that due to COVID restrictions this Municipal Comprehensive (MCR) process, that requires public consultations, is limited to online interactions. That’s why many communities are asking their local government to delay these decisions until people can properly consult with staff and neighbours.
- Municipalities are now forced to calculate how much land based on market needs.
Simply put, there are two ways to calculate this – looking to see what you will need in the future based on changing demographics, what you already have planned, and anticipated need (e.g. more rentals/apartments/seniors residences etc.)…
…you can look back to what has historically been provided by the market (e.g. detached homes, McMansions) and then just extrapolate that forward.
The current government chose the second option.
This means that in places like Simcoe County where large homes dominate housing stock, we can expect more of that despite more people requiring smaller units and apartments (seniors downsizing, youth, low income).
This also means that more of our green spaces and farmland will be sacrificed to provide for McMansions and sprawl, while people who need housing types that are more affordable (laneway homes, stacked townhomes, apartments) will be mostly ignored.