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Posted in Development, Housing, Industry Trends, Newsworthy

This year across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), regions and municipalities are completing their latest round of planning for conformity to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, which determines where, and how many, future communities will be built across our region.

To determine where growth needs to occur, forecasters look at expected growth in population and employment decades in the future and plan for the housing and employment spaces that will be required.

Part of that planning involves looking at expanding municipal borders, referred to as municipal boundary expansion, to ensure there is enough land to accommodate the people who will call the GTA home and the expected growth in jobs and industry. At one time or another, all land in the GTA sat outside a municipal boundary. Boundary expansion is part of how our region grows.

Some have expressed opposition to expanding boundaries for future development. However, there are several important reasons why municipalities across the GTA should plan now to build communities in the future.

First of all, we have a housing affordability crisis in the GTA, driven by lack of supply. The factors behind our housing supply shortage include the constrained nature of land supply and past failure to adequately expand municipal boundaries for the robust population growth and demand we are experiencing now.

Constrained land supply is one of the major reasons for the escalation of land values, which have doubled or tripled since 2006, adding hundreds of thousands of dollars to the cost of a new single-family home.

Those who oppose municipal boundary expansion often incorrectly invoke the term sprawl, a term that doesn’t reflect today’s reality. The Growth Plan requires municipalities to build to higher density and use the land we have available more efficiently.

With single-family houses closer together, interspersed with low apartments, stacked townhouses and row housing, new neighbourhoods use land more efficiently and are denser than communities built in previous decades.

The complete communities being built today are close to transit, walkable, and include all of the supporting amenities such as schools, parks, trail systems, protected natural environments, community centres and libraries.

With the housing supply shortage in the GTA and the resulting affordability crunch, not expanding municipal boundaries actually leads to worse environmental outcomes, thus undermining the key policy intent of the Growth Plan.

Starting in the middle of the last decade, and accelerating through the pandemic, the GTA saw an exodus of young families who moved across southwestern Ontario to find housing they could afford.

This trend has exported the GTA’s housing crunch to communities like Kitchener-Waterloo, Cobourg and London and resulted in significantly greater environmental impacts than if they had been accommodated in higher-density communities within the GTA or on the edges of GTA municipalities.

Finally, the housing crisis in the GTA disproportionately affects younger and new Canadians, so opponents of expanding boundaries to accommodate new communities are actually taking positions that disadvantage those who are just starting out.

Not adequately planning for and accommodating growth increases inequity and risks the future of an entire generation of younger Ontarians.

Expanding municipal boundaries to accommodate future needs as part of prudent, careful planning — like the various options currently being considered in Halton — is an integral part of the Growth Plan and planning for the future.

All of these decisions require balancing competing issues around managing growth, thoughtful discussion and a thorough understanding of the implications.

We encourage all levels of government to understand future demand for housing and plan now for this growth. To do otherwise will perpetuate the housing crisis through future generations and risk our collective quality of life.


Story by: Toronto Sun