Should rural settlements in the Greater Golden Horseshoe be a focus for growth?

Ontario's Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe states that "population and employment growth will be accommodated by... directing major growth to settlement areas that offer municipal water and wastewater systems and limiting growth in settlement areas that are serviced by other forms of water and wastewater services."

This brief shows that a contradiction in wording between the 2006 Growth Plan and a 2008 supplementary provincial document has created a policy gap and decisions made during Growth Plan implementation allowed municipalities to direct growth to rural settlement areas that do not have full municipal services and further, that municipalities are allowed to count this growth as "intensification." The settlements across the Greater Golden Horseshoe potentially affected by this policy gap contain a total of more than 31,000 hectares of unbuilt land.

This brief describes how the contradiction came about, discusses the effects on infrastructure and costs, provides examples of new subdivisions in rural settlements that are being counted as intensification, and notes that the proposed 2016 revision to the Growth Plan may entrench this contradiction.

The analysis raises the question: do we direct growth to settlements in which it contributes to cost-effective infrastructure investments or do we continue to allow growth in rural settlements in ways that increase infrastructure demands and costs?

Download PDF: Should rural settlements in the Greater Golden Horseshoe be a focus for growth?

Download PDF: Undelineated Built-Up Areas: A gap that could undermine the Growth Plan