Neptis Foundation Report and DeMarco Allan Analysis Highlight Growth Plan Policy Gap—Undeliniated Bu
A recent Neptis Foundation Report uncovered a gap in Ontario's proposed Growth Plan that is driving inappropriate subdivision-style development to un-serviced or under-serviced rural settlements called "undelineated built-up areas", exacerbating leap-frog development and impairing the province's abilities to create more dense development and reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions in the area around Toronto and Hamilton (the Greater Golden Horseshoe). If left unchecked, this gap could seriously undermine the Province's revised Growth Plan.
The brief shows that a contradiction in wording between the 2006 Growth Plan and a 2008 supplementary provincial document created a policy gap that, along with decisions made during Growth Plan implementation, allowed municipalities to direct growth to rural settlement areas that do not have full municipal services and, further, that municipalities are allowed to count this growth as “intensification.” The settlements across the Greater Golden Horseshoe potentially affected by this policy gap contain a total of more than 31,000 hectares of unbuilt land.
The brief describes how the contradiction came about, discusses the effects on infrastructure and costs, provides examples of new subdivisions in rural settlements that are being counted as intensification, and notes that the proposed 2016 revision to the Growth Plan may entrench this contradiction.
When it first defined the Built-up Area in 2008, the then-Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal created both “delineated” and “undelineated” categories, arguing that the undelineated BUA (UBUA) was not expected to be a focus for intensification, and therefore did not require a delineated built boundary for future monitoring purposes. Importantly, however, no provision in the old or proposed new Growth Plan expressly prevented municipalities from developing large-scale subdivision-style development in the UBUA, although many Growth Plan provisions should be read as restraining such development.
This gap, between the rationale for leaving some portions of the BUA undelineated and the reality of incomplete restraints on inappropriate development in the Growth Plan, could undermine the Growth Plan’s policies and purpose. Specifically, some municipalities may approve subdivision-style development within the UBUA, counting it toward the achievement of their intensification targets, even though the development is actually traditional greenfield development outside the areas the province is targeting for intensification.