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'A better GTA': Community groups urge province to include residents in housing planning
March 11, 2022

In response to the province's latest development ideas, dozens of community groups in the GTA are asking Premier Doug Ford to stop overdevelopment and start sensible and inclusive growth.

In the grip of a housing affordability crisis, the province has mapped out plans such as the transit-oriented communities (TOCs) and the Housing Affordability Task Force.

"On the surface, both sound sensible," an alliance of residents and ratepayers -- named A Better GTA -- wrote in a letter to Ford dated March 1.

The two TOCs in Richmond Hill and Markham will double density but halve employment, making the Yonge and Highway 7 area an "unliveable" centre and exacerbating traffic for the whole GTA, according to the letter.

While the group agrees the Housing Affordability Task Force was formed with right sentiment, it believes the province started with the false premise and has generated solutions that will produce the opposite of what is needed.

"The report was designed by a group of bankers and developers, and predictably makes recommendations that meet the needs of the development industry over public interests," said the letter.

"Residents and ratepayers, who our alliance represents, will be left to pay for the damage."

The group wants to see a holistic vision created for the GTA, and a return to an evidence- and policy-based approach to planning.

For that, they demand a comprehensive, win-win and durable solution that involves all stakeholders, including residents and municipalities but not just the development industry.

"We urge you to hold a summit to bring all affected stakeholders to the table and work out reasonable compromises," it said.

"Do not rush to introduce legislation prior to the election that will only benefit the development industry. Residents are voters too."

Such concerns have been echoed by municipal councils and mayoral associations throughout the GTA, said John Li, president of Yonge-Bernard Residents Association.

"We want what you want: A Better GTA," said Li, on behalf of community groups in the GTA.