On May 18, 2017, the Government of Ontario released the updated Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe ("Growth Plan"). The new Growth Plan will come into effect on July 1, 2017. Municipalities are expected to review and update their official plans to confirm with the updated Growth Plan by 2022.

Key Highlights Include:

Intensification and Density Targets

Under the new Growth Plan, the vast majority of growth will be directed to settlement areas that: (i) have a delineated built boundary; (ii) have existing or planned municipal water and wastewater systems; and (iii) can support the achievement of complete communities.

  • By 2031, the intensification target will be increased to 60 per cent of residential development annually directed to delineated built-up areas.
    • By the time the next municipal comprehensive review is approved and in effect, and each year until 2031, a minimum of 50 per cent of all residential development occurring annually within each municipality will be within the delineated built-up area
  • By 2041, Designated Greenfield Areas will be planned to achieve a minimum density target of 80 residents and jobs combined per hectare.
    • Through the next municipal comprehensive review, the minimum density target in Designated Greenfield Areas will be 60 residents and jobs per hectare.

Urban Growth Centres

The 2006 Growth Plan identified 25 urban growth centres – the new Growth Plan continues to recognize those urban growth centres as regional focal points for accommodating population and employment growth.

By 2031, the minimum density targets for urban growth centres are planned to be:

  • 400 residents and jobs combined per hectare for each of the urban growth centres in the City of Toronto;
  • 200 residents and jobs combined per hectare for each of the Downtown Brampton, Downtown Burlington, Downtown Hamilton, Downtown Milton, Markham Centre, Downtown Mississauga, Newmarket Centre, Midtown Oakville, Downtown Oshawa, Downtown Pickering, Richmond Hill Centre/Langstaff Gateway, Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, Downtown Kitchener, and Uptown Waterloo urban growth centres; and
  • 150 residents and jobs combined per hectare for each of the Downtown Barrie, Downtown Brantford, Downtown Cambridge, Downtown Guelph, Downtown Peterborough and Downtown St. Catharines urban growth centres.

Investment in Transit

The new Growth Plan recognizes transit as a first priority for transportation planning and investment. Growth will be directed to major transit station areas and planning will be prioritized for these areas on priority transit corridors.

  • The minimum density targets for major transit stations along priority transit corridors and existing subways are:
    • 150 residents and jobs combined per hectare GO train service;
    • 160 residents and jobs combined per hectare for light rail transit (LRT) and bus rapid transit (BRT); and
    • 200 residents and jobs combined per hectare for subways.

Employment Areas

The new Growth Plan introduces a new "prime employment area" designation to protect areas for employment uses that are land extensive or have low employment densities. Municipalities may identify employment areas that are located adjacent to or near areas, such as freight corridors or airports, including manufacturing, warehousing and logistics, as prime employment areas.

  • Retail, residential and other sensitive land uses not associated with the employment use cannot be located in prime employment areas;
  • Retail and office uses will be directed to areas accessible by existing or planned transit;
  • Major office and appropriate major institutional development will be directed to urban growth centres, major transit station areas or other strategic growth areas; and
  • All conversions of employment lands to non-employment uses will be required to be approved by the province.

Housing Strategy

Under the new Growth Plan, municipalities will be required to develop a housing strategy that supports the achievement of the minimum intensification and density targets and supports the achievement of complete communities.

As part of this housing strategy, municipalities will be required to consider the appropriate range of, and unit sizes in, apartments, condominiums and townhouses to accommodate a diverse range of household sizes and income.

Boundary Expansion

Settlement area boundaries are required to be delineated in official plans. Settlement area boundary expansions will be required to be approved by the province.