The Places to Grow website features information on the impact of the Places to Grow legislation after five years and its estimated effect by 2031. Some of the significant trends related to urban sprawl are summarized in this chart from their web page:
In Ontario over the next 20 years:
- Only a third as much greenfield land will be used for urban development
- More than half of all urban development will occur through intensification (i.e., within built areas) compared to a quarter without Places to Grow
- Average urban densities, measured by people and jobs per hectare, are expected to increase by 20%
Here in Innisfil, Places to Grow failed to stop Barrie’s annexation of about 6 square kilometres (without compensation) in spite of a stated goal to limit urban sprawl. At the height of the dispute, Barrie was loudly claiming that it had “run out of land” and urgently needed more for industrial development. Now, after a change of Councils and Mayors in both communities, Barrie will take another two years to plan what to do with it. (Annexed Land Plan Two Years Away, Simcoe.com)
“We don’t want to lose focus on the old Barrie. We have the opportunity to accommodate and manage growth there, which is going to be just as much of a challenge,” according to Eric Hodgins, Barrie’s growth management coordinator. “There are already 500 residents [in the annexed lands], and he predicted another 38,800 would live there in a few decades.” Odd that another community larger than the population of Innisfil is not considered sprawl when it’s appended to Barrie instead of Innisfil.
Most of those new residents would be aged over 50 years and are expected to be looking for condo or townhouse residences. Less than 400 acres of annexed land is set aside for industrial use. Hodgins said “the reason for the apparent lack of designated acreage is because old Barrie has a surplus of vacant employment land.”
Official Plans for both Simcoe County and Innisfil have been referred to a mediator and the Ontario Municipal Board after provincial planners scaled back projected growth targets in the County. Places to Grow designated Barrie as a “growth centre”, which directs regional growth to its downtown core but also allowed it to expand boundaries if necessary.
Reference: Places to Grow, 5 Year Review