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York Region growth scenario update - rethinking intensification

Feb. 17, 2016
By Geordie Gordon

York Region staff is alerting council to the potential implications of the Crombie Panel recommendations to increase intensification targets on its on-going comprehensive official plan review. Staff are also working to provide council with a more detailed analysis of alternatives to the preferred growth scenario that was presented last fall.

At its November 2015 meeting, council considered staff ’s preferred growth scenario that called for a 45 per cent intensification rate to meet the province’s 2041 Growth Plan targets for York Region. Councillors rejected that scenario and directed staff to compare the implications of the 45 per cent intensification
scenario and the provincially mandated minimum 40 per cent.

York Region chief planner Valerie Shuttleworth told NRU that planning staff are undertaking that comparison work now so that council can make an informed decision. She said staff anticipate bringing that analysis to council in June.

“I’m happy to give [council] all the information [it thinks it needs] to make an informed decision,” she said.

In a recent report updating council on the status of the municipal comprehensive review, staff has also highlighted some of the recommendations concerning intensification and density targets made by the Advisory Panel on the Co-ordinated Review of the Growth Plan, Greenbelt Plan, Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and Niagara Escarpment Plan.

Shuttleworth said it was important to bring the recommendations to the attention of councillors. It’s something that staff is monitoring to report back to council when the province responds to the panel’s recommendations.

“We felt we did need to comment on the [panel recommendations] ... because of some of the recommendations that the panel is giving the province. It’s really just a heads up to our council that this is another matter that we’re keeping our eye on. Depending on how the province responds, it could
influence our municipal comprehensive review process.”

The delay in bringing forward the recommended growth scenario and draft regional official plan amendment-now intended to be considered by council in November instead of April-would not affect the adoption of the final regional official plan amendment, according to Shuttleworth. The Growth Plan conformity amendment has to be completed no later than June 2018.

The staff report is scheduled to be considered by council at its February 18 meeting.