Hats off to Toronto Star reporter Phinjo Gombu for a great, in-depth article on how municipalities in the GTA now plan to grow over the next 20 years, after conforming to new planning rules contained in the Greenbelt and Places to Grow legislation which re-direct growth, protect important resources like clean water, and encourage complete live/work communities.
In the Star’s comparison of future growth in Markham and Mississauga it is obvious that political will within individual cities and regions is still a major influence on planning outcomes. Though lands within the Greenbelt are permanently protected, the degree to which sprawl is tempered and greenfields paved over - outside the Greenbelt, varies from city to city. Keep your eyes on Markham as the city to watch. In its rise from sprawl, Markham is pioneering a new growth model to intensify suburban communities as well as its downtown core, and last year the City moved to protect farmland lying just outside the Greenbelt that they could have chosen to develop instead. The City was also the first municipality in Canada to commit to purchasing LFP certified local sustainable farm products to serve in their cafeteria.
Other “sunny” stats and facts that lead one to remain an optimist are that 7 out of 10 families in the GTA are now buying new condos over new houses, wow; and much less urban development is slated to happen in rural lands in the “whitebelt” (rural lands below the Greenbelt that are allotted for urban development) over the next 20 years, than was originally thought needed.
Good news for farming, the environment and municipal property taxes as sprawl is much more expensive to build and maintain.