On Monday, a provincial advisory panel led by David Crombie released a report with 87 recommendations. This report is an important step in the provincial government’s review of the 4 major plans governing land use in the Greater Golden Horseshoe:
- the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe
- the Greenbelt Plan
- the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan
- the Niagara Escarpment Plan
Many of the recommendations deal with issues on which Waterloo Region has been leading the way, such as:
- building complete, liveable communities that have “a diverse mix of land uses and housing types, a range of employment opportunities, high-quality public open space, a variety of transportation choices, and easy access to stores and services”
- protecting prime agricultural lands and the broader agricultural system upon which they rely;
- protecting our water sources through policies to preserve our moraines and groundwater recharge areas; and
- preventing urban sprawl by limiting the expansion of urban areas based on strict criteria.
The plan also puts a particular focus on climate change, and how land use rules can help us to limit and reduce emissions, and prepare ourselves for the effects of a changing climate.
There are lots of details from the province available online, including:
- the advisory panel’s full 180-page report;
- a summary of comments received from the first phase of consultations (including a session in Waterloo Region); and
- an executive summary that’s helpfully quite a bit shorter than 180 pages, and a good overview.
You can see our news release from Smart Growth Waterloo Region here. Support for many of the recommendations of the report is rolling in from all over the province, including:
- Environmental Defence
- Ontario Nature, EcoSpark, and Earthroots
- Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation
- Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation
- Martin Regg Cohn of the Toronto Star
Fortunately, the provincial government seems open to the recommendations and their goals. The next thing we need is specific plans to put this great vision into practice. The second stage of the review is expected in early 2016, along with another round of consultations with communities. We know our communities in Waterloo Region will be eager to support this vision and its implementation. Stay tuned, and we’ll look forward to updating you on the next round of consultations once they’ve been announced.