Proposed Amendment 1 2010 to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe

Environmental Defence submits its comments on Province's proposal for Simcoe County growth

On January 31, 2011, Environmental Defence submitted its comments through the EBR on the Ministry of Infrastruture's Proposed Amendment 1 to the Growth Plan, which is intended to curb sprawl in Simcoe County. The following is the Executive Summary; a link to the full submission is found below.

"We strongly oppose the most recently proposed Simcoe County Growth Plan population allocations and employment zones, as they represent an unjustified comprise that directs growth almost everywhere.

The proposed growth in Simcoe County sets the stage for very large development projects that will choke Highway 400, endanger Lake Simcoe and foul the air and water of our community. The proposal also runs counter to the Government of Ontario’s own Growth Plan, goals of the Lake Simcoe Protection Act, and the wishes of Simcoe County’s residents who support the Greenbelt Act and Lake Simcoe Protection Act. Finally, the Plan says nothing about reducing the ecological footprint of development such as energy use and water consumption, a long-overdue and necessary reform.

Not all the proposed changes are negative; moving some population allocations out of the stressed Lake Simcoe watershed should relieve some of the pressure it faces, and a 20-year restriction on sprawl via the interim settlement boundary policy is most welcome. However, the health, social and environmental benefits to Simcoe County’s residents from these modest gains are completely obliterated in the rush to allocate unnecessary employment areas along Highway 400 that will only promote sprawl, traffic congestion and bad air; allocating insufficient population densities that make meaningful public transit options unviable; insufficient transitional planning that leaves loopholes wide open for abuse by developers; and, the lack of a green building standard to reduce the impact of new developments the province expects in the watershed over the next 20 years.

Modest Improvements:
  • Some population moved out of Lake Simcoe watershed;
  • Some population allocations went to northern communities, albeit at too low
  • densities;
  • Restricting sprawl to land needed for 20 years, through the creation of interim
  • settlement boundaries, via policy
  • Population allocations must consider the assimilative capacity of the receiving bodies of water, and must not result in an increase in Phosphorus to Lake Simcoe;
  • Do not proceed with employment areas on Highway 400. They are unnecessary and will lead to further sprawl and unsustainable development;
  • Establish clear transition rules from the “Wild West” of planning that exists now to the framework proposed in this Amendment, and make implementation of the Amendment fair in all communities;
  • Extend the requirement under the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan to undertake environment assessments on supporting infrastructure before approving land use designations, to all of Simcoe County and especially for the Big Bay Point mega-marina and resort;
  • Do not decrease the density allowed anywhere in this plan, and instead increase density targets to 75 jobs and residents per hectare (j&r/ha) and use that number as a condition for future population allocations;
  • Introduce a community design, water/wastewater management and green building standard against which population allocations can be assessed; and,
  • Grow the Greenbelt in communities contiguous to the existing Greenbelt for example, Bradford West Gwillimbury.

The complete submission can be accessed here: Environmental Defence Growth Plan Simcoe Amendment EBR Response

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