The pace of change

The Growth Plan was introduced in 2006 and the Province required municipalities to make the necessary changes by amending or updating their official plans within three years (that is, by June 2009).[1] This process is not yet complete. Given its complexity, summarized in Figure 2.14, this is not surprising.[2]

Figure 2.14: Generalized Municipal Official Plan Review and Growth Plan Conformity Process

Figure 2.15 indicates the current status of official plans in terms of conformity to the Growth Plan. As of October 2013, of the 20 upper- and single-tier municipalities outside the City of Toronto[3]:

  • 11 municipalities have policies in full effect (although some portions may be under appeal)
  • 7 municipalities have adopted and approved Growth Plan amendments, but amendments are currently under appeal at the Ontario Municipal Board or Ontario Divisional Court
  • 2 municipalities do not have official plans[4]
Figure 2.15: Status of single- and upper-tier municipal work to amend official plans to conform to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe as of October 2013

As for the 89 lower-tier municipalities, as of October 2013, about 60% have adopted an official plan amendment to conform to the Growth Plan.[5] This means that in more than a third of the lower-tier municipalities, the official plan is awaiting approval or is under appeal. In the meantime, the municipality is required to approve development using official plans and zoning by-laws that predate the Growth Plan and in some cases are decades old. Even in municipalities that have amended their official plans, many developments are proceeding that were approved before the establishment of the Growth Plan, or the adoption of Growth Plan conformity amendments.[6]

[1] Section 11.12(2) of the Places to Grow Act, 2005 requires municipalities make amendments to their official plan to conform to the Growth Plan before the third anniversary of the date on which the Growth Plan comes into effect.
[2] Figure 2.9 shows how the process works in principle. In practice, the Province may allow some deviations from this process.
[3] A representative of the Ontario Growth Secretariat, at a presentation to the Society for American City and Regional Planning History, October 4, 2013, explained that Toronto is considered separately for the purposes of Growth Plan conformity.
[4] The municipalities without an official plan are Northumberland County and Dufferin County. For these municipalities, the lower tiers and the upper tier work together to implement the requirements of the Growth Plan.
[5] Estimate provided by a representative of the Ontario Growth Secretariat at a presentation to the Society for American City and Regional Planning HIstory, October 4, 2013, in Toronto.
[6] For example, the development of 3,400 hectares in North Oakville is proceeding under regulations that predate the Growth Plan. Although construction has not yet started, the comprehensive planning process began in 2003 and the development has been approved for 50,000 people and 35,200 jobs, which, when the 900 hectares of land designated as Natural Heritage System is subtracted, represents a density of 34.1 people and jobs per hectare. (;;