Growth Plan Debate Heats Up in Toronto

The question of how and where to grow is causing controversy in Toronto. A recent op-ed picks a side.

2 minute read

February 27, 2019, 6:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Toronto from the CN Tower

Michael Verdi / Flickr

An op-ed by Dave Wilkes, president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), announces support for proposed changes to the controversial Growth Plan under consideration in Toronto.

For Wilkes, the question of whether to support the plan comes down to housing, and the current plan isn't building enough of it.

Much has been written about the proposed changes to the Growth Plan, the policy that manages growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Many commentators have warned that the changes will bring more sprawl. By using that loaded word, they obscure the real issue we should be discussing: How do we build an adequate supply of housing for people in our region in a sustainable way?

Right now, we are not building nearly enough to accommodate the 115,000 people arriving in the GTA every year, and our worsening housing affordability attests to that. With the proposed changes to the Growth Plan, the provincial government is taking action to help increase housing supply while continuing to protect the environment.

According to Wilkes, the areas of the region targeted for growth are too resistant to new development for the plan to be effective. So density isn't being added to the areas with the transportation infrastructure to support it.  

Instead, densification is being pushed to outlying areas of municipalities like Brampton, Vaughan and Pickering, on land designated for future development. Often, these areas are not served by transit, so residents have to drive, contributing to the traffic congestion and emissions that the Growth Plan was meant to alleviate.

Wilkes is responding to the position described in a news article by Ben Spurr from January of this year. Ontario Premier Doug Ford ran for office on a campaign platform that included a plan to expand the growth boundary surrounding the region.

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