Summary of the Proposed Methodology for Land Needs Assessment for the Greater Golden Horseshoe

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs has released the Proposed Methodology for Land Needs Assessment for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, and is seeking your feedback by February 28, 2018.


The Greater Golden Horseshoe is one of the fastest growing regions in North America. The Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2017 (the "Growth Plan") was put in place to help manage this growth.

The Growth Plan's policies will help develop complete communities, curb sprawl, protect the natural environment, support economic development, and ensure that land to accommodate population and employment growth will be available when needed, now and in the future.

A guiding principle of the Growth Plan is to increase population and job densities to make efficient use of land and infrastructure, and support the viability of transit. To guide how and where to grow, the Growth Plan sets minimum density and intensification targets for parts of municipalities such as existing urban areas, major transit station areas, and new suburbs.

To implement the Growth Plan, municipalities are required to use a common provincial methodology for calculating the amount of land that they will need for development until 2041. This calculation is known as a land needs assessment. Using this methodology will help ensure that municipalities are using land efficiently and in accordance with provincial forecasts and targets. If the land needs assessment shows that more land is needed, municipalities will determine the location of that land through subsequent planning.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs is now seeking feedback on the assessment methodology. Once submissions and comments are received and considered, the province will issue a final land needs assessment methodology.

Where a word is italicized, the intended definition of the word or phrase may be found in Chapter 7: Definitions in the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2017 at

Developing the Proposed Methodology

The proposed methodology was developed by the province to respond to recommendation 18 of the 2015 report from the advisory panel, chaired by David Crombie, which was appointed to support a review of four provincial land use plans for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

Why a standard methodology?

In the past, approaches to land needs assessment and the reporting of results varied by municipality. Assessments were typically prepared to demonstrate how an official plan would meet the 2006 Growth Plan's density and intensification targets, and to justify the need to expand urban boundaries (settlement areas). Differing approaches were used to meet the Growth Plan's policy objectives, with mixed results, and many were the subject of extensive litigation at the Ontario Municipal Board.

Municipalities and other stakeholders have asked for consistency. In response, the new Growth Plan requires the province establish a standard methodology for assessing land needs.

The impact of land needs assessment

Once the final methodology has been established, it will be used by upper- and single-tier municipalities to determine the amount of land needed to accommodate future growth. It will inform decisions about whether to expand the boundary of urban areas (settlement area boundary expansion), or whether sufficient or excess land has already been designated.

The results of the land needs assessment will then be used to inform the work of each upper- and single-tier municipality in applying the policies of the Growth Plan to update their own official plans. This is known as the municipal comprehensive review process. The geographic location of lands to be developed or redeveloped will be determined by municipalities during the municipal comprehensive review process.

The Growth Plan provides municipalities with flexibility to determine how and where they accommodate their local demand for housing and employment. There are many ways to achieve this goal and build complete communities. Overall, the region is expected to see a shift towards approaches to housing and employment that uses land and infrastructure more efficiently.

Steps for land needs assessment

The proposed methodology uses a series of steps to determine the quantity of land needed to accommodate forecasted residential and job growth within upper- and single-tier municipalities in accordance with the Growth Plan's policies. It uses provincial population and employment forecasts and data, such as the national census population and household figures. The full Proposed Methodology for Land Needs Assessment in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, available on the Environmental Registry, contains more detailed information on these technical requirements.

Steps to calculate land needs for housing in community areas*:

(For details, refer to Chapter 3 of the full Proposed Methodology.)

  1. Determine the number of additional people that will need housing.
  2. Determine the number of new housing units required to accommodate these additional people.
  3. Allocate housing units to meet Growth Plan requirements over the time period of the Growth Plan horizon (currently to 2041) and for each specific policy area, including:
    • delineated built-up area
    • designated greenfield area, and
    • rural area.
  4. Determine the forecasted population of each policy area during specific time periods.
  5. Finally, determine the quantity of land needed to accommodate housing in the "community areas" of designated greenfield areas, or the amount of excess land.

Steps to calculate land needs for jobs in community areas and employment areas*:

(See Chapter 4.)

  1. Determine the number of additional jobs to be accommodated over the time period of the Growth Plan horizon (currently to 2041).
  2. Determine the distribution of the additional jobs by job type and by location in community areas versus employment areas.
  3. Allocate "community area" jobs to the delineated built-up area and to the designated greenfield area, applying Growth Plan requirements, and determine the quantity of land needed to accommodate jobs in the "community areas" of designated greenfield areas.
  4. Finally, determine the amount of employment area land needed, or the amount of excess land.

*Land needs are assessed based on two different areas:

Community areas: Areas that consist of the delineated built-up area and designated greenfield area, but not employment areas. The vast majority of housing required to accommodate forecasted population, as well as the majority of forecasted jobs will be located in community areas. The jobs in these areas include most office, retail and other jobs.

Employment areas: Defined as: "Areas designated in an official plan for clusters of business and economic activities including, but not limited to, manufacturing, warehousing, offices, and associated retail and ancillary facilities." (Provincial Policy Statement, 2014) These are areas that have no housing, but that can include jobs of all types, and where most of the industrial-type buildings will be located. These areas could also include some office, retail and other jobs that provide services to people working in, or are related to the work occurring in the employment area.

How to participate

Comments and suggestions are valued and welcomed on the proposed methodology. Feedback from the consultation will inform a consistent, policy-led approach that can be readily adopted by municipalities across the region.

Following the close of the consultation period, the ministry may modify the proposal, and will issue a final methodology that municipalities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe will then be required to use. All comments and feedback received before the consultation closing date will be taken into consideration.

Learn more by reading the proposed methodology available on the Environmental Registry.

Feedback can be provided in any of these ways:

Ontario Growth Secretariat
Ministry of Municipal Affairs
1 Dundas Street West, 25th Floor
Toronto, ON M5G 1Z3

The consultation closes on February 28, 2018.

Notice regarding collection of information

Any collection of personal information will be in accordance with subsection 39(2) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. It will be collected under the authority of the Places to Grow Act, 2005 for the purpose of obtaining input on the Proposed Methodology for Land Needs Assessment for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

If you have questions about the collection, use, and disclosure of this information please contact:

Ministry of Municipal Affairs
Senior Information and Privacy Advisor
777 Bay Street, 17th Floor
Toronto, Ontario, M5G 2E5

Organizations and businesses:

Comments or submissions made on behalf of an organization or business may be shared or disclosed. By submitting comments you are deemed to consent to the sharing of information contained in the comments and your business contact information. Business contact information is the name, title and contact information of anyone submitting comments in a business, professional or official capacity.


Personal contact information will only be used to contact you and will not be shared. Please be aware that any comments provided may be shared or disclosed once personal information is removed. Personal information includes your name, home address and personal e-mail address.

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