The Stockwell Report V1-E17

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:

STAFF REPORT

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

RECOMMENDATION:

“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.”

BACKGROUND:

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

Master Plan.

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

directions.

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

environments.

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.

DISCUSSION:

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

greenfield areas.

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.

Intensification Target

(% residential development within

Built Boundary)

Designated Greenfield Area Density

Target (Combined People and Jobs per

hectare)

Growth Plan

(2006)

40% 50

Approved Alternative

Targets for WB

(GP Amendment No. 1

and County of Simcoe

Official Plan)

20% 32

Proposed Growth Plan

Amendment (2016)

60% 80

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.

Excess Lands:

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.

Transit:

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.

Community Hubs:

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.

Employment Areas:

Section 2.2.5.6 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.

Integrating Infrastructure

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.

CONCLUSION:

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

this report.

Respectfully submitted,

Nathan Wukasch, RPP, MCIP

Planner
This is another dictate from the Province to municipalities that will tie local planners hands when it comes to local development.

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