Media Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ontario Nature's Position on the Greater Golden Horseshoe Growth Plan

Summary

Ontario Nature welcomes the provincial government's recent initiative, through the Greater Golden Horseshoe Growth Plan, to address some of the causes of urban sprawl and traffic gridlock in the Greater Toronto Area and beyond. The Growth Plan requires more homes and businesses to be built per hectare of urban land (called "intensification") in order to protect natural areas and prime farmlands. Its goal is to foster communities that are walkable, that support viable public transit options, and that provide for a variety of residential and commercial uses. Ontario Nature is supportive of these goals and expects the land use policies in the Growth Plan to go part way towards achieving those intentions. However, we are concerned that the Growth Plan does not go as far as it needs to if Ontario is to stop sprawl, improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect natural areas and prime farmlands, and safeguard drinking water sources in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

For example, at the same time that the Growth Plan was released in mid-June 2006, the government made a major announcement about highway expansions and improvements, such as extending Highway 404 through the Greenbelt north to Lake Simcoe - contrary to the intent of both stopping sprawl and focusing on public transit. The Plan's targets for urban intensification and increased urban densities are un-ambitious compared to those adopted in other jurisdictions facing similar urban development challenges. In some respects, the final Growth Plan is actually weaker than the earlier version, for example that it allows sprawling residential subdivisions in rural areas. Also, the required density of new urban development in municipalities beyond the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton may be reduced, and the protection for what is to be called the "Natural System" (natural heritage features to identified under the Plan) has been weakened.

To read more detailed comments from Ontario Nature on the Greater Golden Horseshoe Growth Plan, click here.

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