The Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2017 (the “Growth Plan”) took effect on July 1, 2017. It includes a new policy that states that the Minister of Municipal Affairs will establish a standard methodology for assessing land needs to implement the Growth Plan and requires that this methodology be used by upper- and single-tier municipalities to assess the quantity of land needed to accommodate forecasted growth. The Minister is currently consulting on a Proposed Methodology for Land Needs Assessment for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2017.
Following the release of the first Growth Plan in 2006, municipalities across the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) took a variety of approaches to how they accounted for undelineated built-up areas (settlement areas for which the Minister has not delineated a built boundary) in their land needs assessments. Key policy changes in the Growth Plan, 2017 clarified that growth must be limited in undelineated built-up areas and that development in undelineated built-up areas can no longer be counted towards the achievement of the intensification target. However, all lands within these settlement areas meet the Growth Plan definition of designated greenfield areas.
In order to address this transition matter and to facilitate implementation through a standard methodology for land needs assessment, it is proposed that the Minister would make modifications to the Growth Plan transition regulation to make an exception for settlement areas in the inner ring of the GGH that are identified as hamlets in the Greenbelt Plan, rural settlements in the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan or minor urban centres in the Niagara Escarpment Plan. For settlement areas that are located partially inside/outside the Greenbelt Area (as defined by O. Reg. 59/05), only the portion inside the Greenbelt Area would be excepted.
It is proposed that the regulation would specify that planning matters relating to these areas would be exempt from the Growth Plan density target for designated greenfield areas, which would mean that they would not need to be treated as designated greenfield areas for the purposes of land needs assessment. While the Growth Plan policies direct that growth must be limited in undelineated built-up areas, there are additional restrictions for development in those areas identified as hamlets in the Greenbelt Plan, as rural settlements in the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan or as minor urban centres in the Niagara Escarpment Plan and so any limited growth that might occur could instead be treated as rural development for the purposes of land needs assessment.
This proposed exemption would not apply to the outer ring of the GGH as there is a unique policy framework that applies in that part of the region that does not apply in the inner ring. In the outer ring, all undelineated built-up areas would be considered designated greenfield areas and would be subject to the minimum density target for designated greenfield areas unless they are identified as excess lands. The policies in the Growth Plan state that any lands identified as excess lands and subject to the development restrictions that the Growth Plan policies require would no longer meet the definition of designated greenfield areas.