Oakville’s feedback on the provincial government’s proposed changes to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe is sending a clear message that the town is strongly in favour of managing growth within the framework of an urban structure, developing complete communities and aligning land use with transportation and infrastructure.
“Our Livable Oakville Plan provides an urban structure framework for where new growth will be focused while protecting greenspaces and stable residential neighbourhoods. This Plan conforms with the province’s current Growth Plan,” said Mayor Rob Burton. “The province’s proposed changes, including the removal of urban structure policies in the Growth Plan and a general direction to allow intensification throughout the community, is of major concern. These changes could impact our ability to implement our Livable Oakville Plan framework.”
After receiving an information report from staff outlining the town’s position on the province’s proposed changes, Council endorsed the report and directed staff to submit it to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing by the commenting deadline of February 28, 2019.
Currently, the province is seeking input on proposed changes to the Growth Plan which would apply across six broad categories: Employment Planning, Settlement Area Boundary Expansions, Small Rural Settlements, Natural Heritage and Agricultural Systems, Intensification and Density Targets, and Major Transit Station Areas. Three additional proposals accompany the proposed Growth Plan changes: Proposed Framework for Provincially Significant Employment Zones (PSEZ) and Proposed modifications to the transition regulation and the exemptions regulation.
In addition to urban structure and complete communities, one of the proposed changes to the Growth Plan identifies PSEZ receiving enhanced protection for employment uses within existing settlement area boundaries.
Oakville is supportive of protecting employment lands of provincial significance. However, the town is of the opinion that introducing another layer of mapping and policy related to planning for employment, in addition to those contained in the local and regional official plans, may add red tape and have the opposite effect from what the province is trying to achieve in terms of being open for business. The town is recommending that the province exclude key mixed-use areas such as the Trafalgar Urban Core and the Bronte GO Major Transit Station Area from the proposed provincially significant employment zones.
Another change proposes to remove references that encourage high quality development and high standards of urban design. This change in language suggests a shift away from stated provincial interests in the Planning Act that call for complete communities with well-designed built form that encourages a sense of place and provides public spaces that are high quality, safe, attractive and accessible.
The Town of Oakville recommends that the provincial Growth Plan maintains a focus on high quality urban development and encourages the province to make changes to their plans and statutes that promote alignment and harmonization within Ontario’s planning system.
As directed by Council, staff will also be sharing the town’s feedback on the proposed changes with the Region of Halton, City of Burlington, Town of Halton Hills, Town of Milton, Halton MPPs, Association of Municipalities of Ontario, Large Urban Mayor’s Caucus of Ontario, and the Mayors and Regional Chairs of Ontario for information.