Objectives and criteria

Part One has shown that, at a macro scale, plans define nodes as a structuring instrument for the metropolitan region, which initially provided an alternative to an urban form perceived as overly centralized and later, to suburban-like dispersion and sprawl. Plans also emphasize the role of nodes in promoting the use of public transit, given their location at points of high transit connectivity. An equally important metropolitan-wide dimension of nodes is their contribution to higher metropolitan density, and thus to the containment of sprawl. At a meso scale, nodes are depicted as focal points for their community (defined broadly as either groupings of neighbourhoods or an entire municipality). Micro-scale definitions of nodes emphasize their compactness and pedestrian connectivity. Plans pay far less attention to the formulation of corridor development objectives. Corridors are usually presented as means of connecting nodes to each other, and of creating environments that combine density and high-quality public transit services.

Nodal development objectives are not always quantified. Examples of quantifiable goals include references to the minimum size of nodes, as in the 1994 Metro Toronto official plan, which specified that major nodes should contain at least 25,000 jobs. Another quantifiable goal is found in municipal official plans that set modal share objectives highly favourable to public transit. For example, the goal in North York Centre was to reduce rush-hour automobile shares to 33 per cent. In Scarborough Town Centre, planners aspired to raise the transit proportion of commuting journeys to 55 per cent, and the objective in Mississauga City Centre was to achieve a 50 per cent transit modal share (Mississauga, 1994b; North York, 1991; 1994; Scarborough, 1996). Recently, Places to Grow has formulated minimum employment and residential density thresholds for Urban Growth Centres with a 2031 horizon: 400 people and jobs per hectare for City of Toronto Urban Growth Centres; 200 for the remainder of Greater Toronto Area Urban Growth Centres, as well as downtown Hamilton, downtown Kitchener, and uptown Waterloo; and 150 for other downtown Urban Growth Centres outside the Greater Toronto Area (Ontario, 2006a: 16-17).