It’s no secret that Halton Region is growing quickly. This is especially true in Milton –according to 2011 census figures, at 56.5 per cent, Milton had the largest growth rate of any community between 2006 and 2011 and is Canada’s fastest growing community.
Regional Council does not set growth levels for Halton. The Province, through the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, establishes growth rates for regions, under legislation contained in the Places to Grow Act. Last November, the Ministry of Infrastructure released a Proposed Amendment No. 2 to the plan.
As a Region, we respond to these requirements through our Regional Official Plan, which guides land use planning and aims to balance community needs, economic prosperity and environmental protection with growth requirements. The Regional Official Plan is reviewed on a regularly scheduled basis.
We work very closely with our municipal partners on effectively managing growth across the Region. Last month, Regional Council endorsed the Halton Area Planning Partnership’s (HAPP) joint submission in response to Proposed Amendment No. 2. HAPP is made up of senior level planning staff at the Region and all four Local Municipalities.
What does Amendment No. 2 do?
The amendment proposes to extend the population and employment forecasts for Halton Region from 2031 to 2041.
What does Amendment No. 2 not do?
The proposed amendment changes the forecasts for 2036 and 2041, but not 2031.
Amendment No. 2 also includes transition provisions that that would mean municipalities would not have to produce new official plans ahead of schedule.
HAPP believes it is premature to consider Amendment No. 2 for a variety of reasons related to timing of the Growth Plan review, the currency of the data used to calculate the forecasts, and a number of other factors and Council endorses this position.
We believe it is premature to shift the planning horizons from 2031 to 2041. Why?
- There is a 10-year review of Growth Plan policies scheduled for 2016 – any amendments should be considered at that time. Additionally there are a number of other provincial planning policy updates underway, including Greenbelt Policies and the Niagara Escarpment Plan. It would make more sense to consolidate these efforts into a single time window.
- The amendment uses data from the 2006 Census. The 2011 Census/National Household Survey data should have been used instead since 2006 data do not reflect the 2008 economic downturn.
Halton Region is committed to ensuring that Development Charge rates recover the full cost of providing infrastructure to support development and that growth pays for itself to the degree permitted by Provincial legislation. Regional Council is committed to ensuring that existing taxpayers and businesses are not impacted by the costs associated with new residential growth.
Regional Council has supported HAPP’s recommendation that:
- the Province provide stable, long-term funding to ensure growth related infrastructure such as hospitals, schools and transit/roads are in place to support growth,
- the Development Charges Act, 1997 should be revised so that municipalities have the tools to ensure full cost recovery for growth related infrastructure.
I have advised the Premier of Ontario and the Minister of Infrastructure that Halton Region does not support proposed Amendment No.2.
Halton Regional Council believes very strongly that any new growth in Halton must pay for itself. We, with our Local Municipal partners, will continue to advocate to the Provincial and Federal government for capital investments and legislative tools that will enable municipalities like Halton to recover infrastructure costs.
As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton or on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”