By Faye Lyons
Tuesday, October 11, 2016 1:00 pm ·  1 Comment
Recently, the Provincial government proposed changes to the Provinces land use plans of which three apply to Halton: the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Greenbelt Plan and the Niagara Escarpment Plan.
The Oakville Chamber believes that planning for future growth is essential for a sustainable and economically viable community. Roads, transit, schools and hospitals are some examples of what communities need to plan for, as well as the future development of employment and commercial lands.
The opportunity for Oakville businesses to prosper while providing residents with choices on where to live and work and how to travel within the Town are important factors that determine its quality of life. This is why planning for growth in communities is crucial for their success. Investment in infrastructure like roads and transit is fundamental to ensure the movement of goods, services and people.
The most recent density and growth targets proposed by the province represent a significant shift in land-use planning that will affect the future of our community.
The Provincial government’s proposal includes increasing development-related targets that municipalities will need to follow moving forward. Specifically, the number of people and jobs per hectare in new developments will be increased from 50 to 80, and 60% of new development will need to occur within a communities “built boundary,” an increase from the current 40%.
In principle, the concept of developing a planning framework to curb sprawl by directing and managing growth is understood and supported. However, these new targets will require significant investment to upgrade and expand both provincial and municipal infrastructure and services. There will also be significant financial impacts on municipalities for parkland, road widening, transit, community services as well as on school boards for new and expanded schools.
In response to the Province’s Planning Review, the Town recently provided its comments on the proposed policies as they relate to Oakville. Noting the challenge to meet current growth targets, the Town’s staff report has recommended that the province provide municipalities with new taxation powers in order to help pay for the required infrastructure.
Subsequently, the Oakville Chamber together with its network Chambers in the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area will be submitting our comments and recommendations on the most recent review to the Provincial government.
Firstly, we believe that additional studies need to be conducted to determine whether or not the most recent recommendations by the province are achievable and what the impact of these changes mean for Oakville.
Prior to moving forward with these significant policy changes, the Chamber network believes that we need to understand the potential economic impact on land use availability, congestion and GDP on individual communities.
The Town of Oakville, like other municipalities is unique. Rather than having a “one size fits all” set of principles, the Chamber network believes that a greater density mix of housing and commercial options governed by the local context would better serve the community.
Specific to Oakville, the Chamber believes that employment lands must be protected. For example, the Town’s Economic Development Strategy focuses on the attraction of knowledge-based industries. Planning for the remaining employment lands should continue to be utilized for its highest and best use as well as what the community values.
Accordingly, we would like to see a specific focus within the plan towards existing and future employment and commercial land growth. The Province should consider emerging trends such as industrial clusters, creative and technological incubators, goods movement, transit hubs and mixed use neighbourhoods.
The Oakville Chamber together with Chamber network partners supports evidence-based projections of what population and employment numbers are expected to be. Consequently, our ask of the Provincial government is for a clearer definition on the models utilized to calculate the growth targets in this most recent land planning review.
Evidence-based projections ensure a co-ordinated and consistent approach to planning and for infrastructure development so that communities like Oakville can appropriately plan for long-term growth.
Finally, the Chamber network would like to see a more transparent cost accounting of current and proposed funding by the province to assist municipalities towards meeting their individual and the plan’s overall growth targets.
The Oakville Chamber strongly believes that the Province should allow for local autonomy so that municipalities like Oakville can position itself for success. We will convey our position to our local Provincial representatives and ask that they advocate on Oakville’s behalf in an effort to protect its future and the quality of life we have come to enjoy in our community.
As a key stakeholder in each of our communities, and on behalf of our members, the Chamber network’s recommendations with respect to the proposed changes will be forwarded in a submission to the Province.
Community Services, GDP, goods movement, Greenbelt Plan, Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, jobs per hectare, knowledge-based industries, land-use planning, Municipal Infrastructure, new taxation powers, Niagara Escarpment Plan, Oakville Chamber of Commerce, Oakville Economic Development Strategy, Parkland, road widening, school boards, technological incubators, Transit, transit hubs