THE STOCKWELL REPORT
This past week the Wasaga Beach Council, in dealing with the Development Services Section of Coordinated Committee, received a report from Planner Nathan Wukasch entitled : Official Plan Update Report # 5 of 11, Coordinated Review of
Provincial Policy Documents, Proposed Changes to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, Planning for Health, Prosperity, and Growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
As this report will have a profound impact on the future land use development of our community, it deserves to be read in its entirety, as follows:
TO: Development Services Section of Coordinated Committee
FROM: Nathan Wukasch, Planner
SUBJECT: Official Plan Update Report #5 of 11
Coordinated Review of Provincial Policy Documents
Proposed Changes to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe
Planning for Health, Prosperity, and Growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe
DATE: October 13, 2016
“THAT Development Services Section of Coordinated Committee recommends to Council that it
receive the report on the Coordinated Review of Provincial Policy Documents: Proposed Growth Plan
Amendment and authorize staff to provide comments to the Province based on this report.”
In July 2016, Staff reported to Development Services Section on the need to overhaul the Town’s
Official Plan to create a growth management strategy along with a number of other policy updates.
This report is the fifth of eleven reports on Official Plan Update matters. This OP update work has
commenced, and will be a priority for staff in January 2017 upon the completion of the Downtown
The Province of Ontario struck an Advisory Panel to provide recommendations in a coordinated
review of four Provincial Plans: the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (2006), the
Greenbelt Plan (2005), the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (2002), and the Niagara
Escarpment Plan (1985). Staff reported to the Development Services Section in March 2016 on the
Comprehensive Coordinated Review report, which contained 87 recommendations on six strategic
The Province has now issued proposed amendments to all four Provincial Plans, and is seeking
comments by October 31, 2016. The four Plans are generally focussed on growth in the Greater
Toronto Area and the broader Greater Golden Horseshoe. Although within the ‘Outer Ring’ of the
GTA, the County of Simcoe (and Barrie and Orillia) is included in the Growth Plan due to significant
growth pressure from people seeking the natural environment and recreational opportunities, retirees,
second home/vacation property owners, and families seeking improved quality of life from more urban
For the Town of Wasaga Beach, the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe is the relevant
plan which has a significant impact on long-range land use planning, promoting intensification and
efficient use of services in the pursuit of creating complete communities. This report focuses on the
proposed changes to the Growth Plan. The other three Plans have minimal effect on land use in the
County of Simcoe as a whole, and no impact on the Town itself as the Town is not geographically
located within their Plan Areas.
Planning Staff attended a technical briefing by the Province in June and attended a County Planner’s
meeting in August 2016 at which the Province gave a high level overview of the proposed changes to
all of the Plans (See Appendix A). The proposed Amendment to the Growth Plan makes significant
updates to the Provincial policy context to which upper tier and local municipalities must conform.
Changes are made under 6 themes: Building Complete Communities; Supporting Agriculture;
Protecting Natural Heritage and Water; Integrating Infrastructure; Addressing Climate Change; and
Improving Plan Implementation.
Building Complete Communities
Municipal Comprehensive Reviews:
Upper tier and local municipalities must develop an integrated approach to planning and managing
growth to 2041 which will be implemented through a municipal comprehensive review. A municipal
comprehensive review is a new Official Plan, or an Official Plan Amendment that comprehensively
applies the Growth Plan policies. The Town will formally commence an update to the Official Plan in
January 2017, which will contain a growth management strategy. If approved, the Town’s Official Plan
update will include all of the policies referred to in this report.
Intensification and Density Targets:
The Province is proposing to require municipalities, through their next municipal comprehensive
review, to increase minimum intensification targets and greenfield density targets. Minimum
intensification targets are proposed to be increased from 40% to 60% of annual residential
development to occur within the built boundary area of a municipality. Minimum density targets for
designated greenfield areas (outside the built boundary) are proposed to increase from 50 to 80
people and jobs per hectare and would be planned to be achieved by 2041.
These intensification and greenfield density targets are intended to apply to the urban municipalities
of the GTA. The Growth Plan identifies a hierarchy of urban areas with respective expectations for
form and density of development. The County of Simcoe and Wasaga Beach is within the ‘outer ring’
of the GTA, and has had lower alternative targets approved for growth. The Growth Plan identifies
Barrie as an ‘Urban Growth Centre’. Collingwood, Midland/Penetanguishene, Bradford, Alliston,
Alcona, Orillia and Barrie are all identified as ‘Primary Settlement Areas’. With these designations the
Growth Plan requires 40% intensification and urban densities of 50 people and jobs per hectare in
It should be noted that Simcoe County has been permitted lower intensification targets and
designated greenfield targets than the rest of the Greater Golden Horseshoe through Growth plan
Amendment No. 1 in 2012. For Wasaga Beach, the Growth Plan currently requires 20%
intensification and 32 people and jobs per hectare in greenfield areas. These lower targets have now
been approved by the Ontario Municipal Board in the County’s Official Plan in 2016. The following
table describes the current and proposed densities in Wasaga Beach.
(% residential development within
Designated Greenfield Area Density
Target (Combined People and Jobs per
Targets for WB
(GP Amendment No. 1
and County of Simcoe
Proposed Growth Plan
The Simcoe County Homebuilders Association have recently written to the area municipalities to
lobby against the proposed increases to the intensification and designated greenfield density targets.
They provide a chart entitled “What does 80 People and Jobs per Hectare Look Like?” which is
helpful to visualize the type of built form and density required to meet the proposed targets (Appendix
B). With the creation of a mixed-use downtown for Wasaga Beach, the intention is to increase
densities and create a sense of place to encourage investment. A goal of the Town’s Growth
Management Strategy will be to swing the balance from lower density single detached dwellings
towards higher density townhouses and mid-rise apartment dwellings in more compact urban form.
This could help the Town become a more complete community, meet a higher intensification target,
increase affordability, and make the existing land supply last longer. When complete, the Downtown
Master Plan will quantify a realistic goal for intensification and higher density development specific to
the Town centre.
Staff are of the opinion that it is not realistic to achieve the proposed intensification target (60% of
residential growth within the built boundary) and designated greenfield density target (80 people and
jobs per hectare in greenfield areas) at this time. Staff recommend continuing to meet the Province
and County’s approved minimum intensification and designated greenfield density targets, while
assessing whether it is feasible to achieve higher targets through the Downtown Master Plan and the
Official Plan Update and Growth Management Strategy.
Most of the Simcoe Sub-Area policies of the Growth Plan remain the same, other than the Excess
Lands Framework. Municipalities in the Outer Ring within the Growth Plan are required to identify and
prohibit development on any excess land that is beyond the 2041 horizon. The Simcoe Sub-Area is
exempt from this requirement and may designate lands in excess of the 2031 targets, provide that
certain criteria are met. However, this exemption is proposed to be cease on January 19, 2022,
meaning the Town would have to comply and complete the land budgeting exercise needed to
identify excess lands and prohibit development on them. The purpose is to encourage municipalities
to plan for and accommodate forecasted growth within the horizon of the Growth Plan.
The proposed Amendment includes specific minimum transit-supportive density targets for major
transit station areas, depending on the type of transit to be supported. Municipalities would be
required to integrate Active Transportation networks into transportation planning to provide
continuous linkages between strategic growth areas and other key destinations. When designing,
refurbishing or reconstructing the existing or planned street network, municipalities would be required
to adopt a complete streets approach that ensures the needs and safety of all road users are
considered and accommodated. Staff support these policy initiatives as they create a healthy public
realm with a supportive network of active transportation infrastructure.
Direction is provided to create community hubs by co-locating public service facilities. The Town is
pursuing this direction for future services through the creation of a Downtown Master Plan, and have
historically co-located services at the Wasaga Beach RecPlex and SportsPark.
Section 126.96.36.199 states that employment areas within settlement areas will be designated and planned
to: a) direct any permitted commercial uses to locations that support active transportation and are
serviced by transit, where that service is available; b) prohibit residential land uses and limit other
sensitive lands uses to preserve the long-term integrity of the employment areas for uses that require
these locations; and c) integrate employment area with adjacent non-employment areas and develop
vibrant mixed-use areas and innovation hubs where appropriate. The Growth Plan relies on the
definition of employment lands in the Provincial Policy Statement (2014) which means areas
designated for clusters of business and economic activities including, but not limited to
manufacturing, warehousing, offices and associated retail and ancillary facilities.
The Town has already exceeded the 2031 Growth Plan employment target primarily due to
population and tourism-based employment. Employment within the Town has historically consisted of
85% population and tourism-based jobs with the remaining 15% being traditional ‘employment lands’
jobs. Hemson Consulting forecasts this trend to continue to 2031. The Downtown Master Plan will
continue to support population and tourism-based employment opportunities in a vibrant, mixed-use
Town centre. Staff are of the opinion that there is a policy gap in the Province’s approach to
employment in tourism-based economies such as Wasaga Beach. There would be no recognition of
the importance of tourism and population-based employment in mixed-use areas that provide a key
employment function in such as the main beachfront tourist area of Wasaga Beach. Staff expect that
the population and tourism-based job growth will continue and in providing comments on the
proposed Growth Plan Amendment, will seek clarity in the Province’s employment lands policy
program for tourism-based economies.
The Growth Plan Amendment provides new direction that planning for infrastructure would need to
occur in an integrated manner, supported by Infrastructure Master Plans and Asset Management
Plans to ensure infrastructure is financially viable over its full life cycle. There is a new policy that
recognizes infrastructure investment as an implementation tool that will be used to facilitate higher density
development in strategic growth areas, such as the main beachfront, the downtown, and other
growth nodes within the Town of Wasaga Beach.
Other Key Policies
Staff support other policies that protect natural heritage and water resources, and address climate
change through encouraging low-impact development techniques and green infrastructure.
Improving Plan Implementation
Planning authorities are encouraged to coordinate planning matters with First Nations and Metis
communities. The Province proposes to support the establishment of a comprehensive monitoring
and reporting program for Growth Plan policies.
The proposed Growth Plan requires conformity by 2021, which would supersede the current
requirement to conform to Growth Plan Amendment No. 2 by 2018.
The proposed Growth Plan Amendment contains comprehensive policy changes that further the
Province’s goals for building complete communities, supporting agriculture, protecting natural
heritage and water, integrating infrastructure, and addressing climate change. They seek comments
on the proposed changes by October 31, 2016.
At this time, the Town’s main concerns relate to the increased intensification and greenfield density
targets, and seek clarity on the employment lands policies. Staff recommend that Council authorize
staff to provide comments to the Province on the proposed Growth Plan Amendment in keeping with
Nathan Wukasch, RPP, MCIP
This is another dictate from the Province to municipalities that will tie local planners hands when it comes to local development.