Co-ordinated Land Use Planning Review

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With four provincial land use plans under review, the Ontario government opted for a coordinated review process — and to support the review it set up an advisory panel chaired by David Crombie.

The panel’s report (pdf),”Planning for Health, Prosperity and Growth in the Greater Golden Horseshe: 2015 – 2014″, was released last September 2015. It highlighted several priorities for action, including:

  • building complete communities
  • supporting agriculture
  • protecting natural and cultural heritage
  • providing infrastructure, and
  • mainstreaming climate change

The prominence given to both complete communities and climate change is an indication of the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for smart growth in Ontario.

The two objectives are also closely aligned, as the Crombie Panel acknowledges on page 51:

Complete communities can also help to mitigate climate change by applying the “net-zero” concept. This means that greenhouse gases produced from the use of vehicles, thermal and electrical energy within the community would be offset by efficiency gains and clean energy. A sufficient mix of local shopping and local jobs would enable people to meet their daily needs within the community. Buildings would be better insulated, designed to take advantage of renewable energy and better connected to community information, energy and transportation systems. Green spaces and street trees would provide a carbon sink and help to bufffer extreme weather events.

In other words, complete communities rock! They are better places to live, provide local jobs, and are way more efficient.

Recommendation 1. of the commission (p. 57) gives a long list of ways that all new developments in existing built-up areas and in designated greenfield areas should support the development of complete communities. It shows how complex and difficult it can be to plan for completeness by regulation, and reinforces the need for a deep cultural shift in how we plan for out future. Policies and Plans may create the space for smart growth, but the creation of complete communities will require imagination and innovation — qualities we need to encourage in community leaders, planners, and developers alike.

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