Coordinated Four Plan Review

In February of 2015 a coordinated review of the four provincial plans began in response to the input and recommendations of the report “Planning for Health, Prosperity and Growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe: 2015-2041.” This report outlined the immense pressure the Greater Golden Horseshoe is under as it is Canada’s fastest growing region. It is estimated to grow from 9 million people to 13.5 million and will provide 6.3 million jobs by 2041.

The report identified six strategic directions to help guide proposed changes to the four provincial plans including:

– Investing in transit and infrastructure

– Supporting agriculture investments and viability

– Growing the Greenbelt

– Protecting the environment and natural heritage

– Creating jobs to grow the economy and help build complete communities

– Responding to climate change

The review of the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Niagara Escarpment Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Greenbelt Plan (the “4-Plan review) has recently been published and made available by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “Shaping Land Use in the Greater Golden Horseshoe”, can be viewed here.

The “Shaping Land Use in the Greater Golden Horseshoe” guide outlines proposed changes to the four provincial plans based on the themes of the strategic directions listed above.

Examples of the proposed changes include:

1. Building Complete Communities:

– Increase density and intensification targets

– Promote transit supportive density

– Encourage development of community hubs

– Establish criteria and methodology to assess and better protect agricultural and natural heritage land

– Require municipalities to identify and protect prime agricultural land

2. Supporting Agriculture:

– Identify agriculture system for entire Greater Golden Horseshoe that builds on Greenbelt and plans for long-term viability

– Clarify types and criteria regarding permitted uses in prime agricultural areas

3. Protecting Natural Heritage and Water:

– Require natural heritage systems to be identified across Greater Golden Horseshoe

– Apply natural heritage and water protection policies outside settlement areas

– Limit settlement area expansion on natural heritage systems

– Establish watershed planning across Greater Golden Horseshoe

– Encourage soil re-use strategies

– Update land use designation mapping in Niagara Escarpment Plan

4. Growing the Greenbelt:

– Include major river valleys and large coastal wetlands

– No requirement for municipal support to add lands to Greenbelt

– Add 4 parcels of land identified by City of Hamilton and Niagara Region to Greenbelt’s Protected Countryside

5.  Addressing Climate Change:

– Requiring municipalities to incorporate climate change policies in official plans

– Municipalities should develop GHG inventories, emission reduction strategies and performance measures, more comprehensive storm water management and examine infrastructure weaknesses.

– Encourage use of green infrastructure and green space in design strategies.

6. Integrating Infrastructure:

– Direct planning authorities towards integrated approach to land use and infrastructure planning

– Include mapping of transportation corridors, major ports, higher order networks, and priority transit corridors and support movement of goods

– Clarify requirements in Growth Plan to protect infrastructure corridors

7. Improving Plan Implementation:

– Clarify in Growth Plan how municipalities allocate and plan to accommodate forecasted growth and strategies to maximize development of complete communities

– Only municipalities without urban growth centres should be eligible for alternative targets for intensification. In addition, municipalities should report on implementation


The Province of Ontario must work with stakeholders, municipalities, conservation authorities, First Nations and Métis communities, experts, and the general public to gather reliable data and information essential to implement and monitor the objectives and desired changes of these plans.

The deadline to provide input on the four proposed revised plans is September 30, 2016. Details on how to submit comments can be found here.

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