Frequently Asked Questions Amendment 2 (2013) to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006

  1. What are the Growth Plan's population and employment forecasts? Why are they important?  
  2. Why is the population in the Greater Golden Horseshoe growing so quickly?
  3. What is Amendment 2 and why is it necessary?
  4. Why are the forecasts being extended to 2041? Can municipalities designate land for development to 2041?
  5. Why are there two sets of forecasts for 2031 being included in Amendment 2?
  6. How was Amendment 2 developed?
  7. When will Amendment 2 come into effect? When do municipalities need to update their official plans to conform to Amendment 2?
  8. Many municipal official plans are currently before the Ontario Municipal Board. Will Amendment 2 impact these cases?

1. What are the Growth Plan's population and employment forecasts? Why are they important?

A key component of the Growth Plan, the population and employment forecasts are evidence based projections of what population and employment numbers are expected to be in various municipalities in the decades to come. They ensure a consistent and coordinated approach to planning for infrastructure and development across the region and help municipalities plan for long-term growth in their communities.

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2. Why is the population in the Greater Golden Horseshoe growing so quickly?

The Greater Golden Horseshoe is one of the fastest growing regions in North America. Immigration continues to be the most important component of population growth in the region. The Greater Golden Horseshoe is also experiencing higher fertility rates and longer life expectancy than previously anticipated when the 2006 Growth Plan forecasts were released. This is forecast to result in higher household sizes than previously anticipated.

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3. What is Amendment 2 and why is it necessary?

Amendment 2 updates the Growth Plan's existing population and employment forecasts and extends the growth planning horizon to 2041.

Extending the forecasts to 2041 will ensure an appropriate timeframe for infrastructure and long-term planning.

The Amendment provides certainty and consistency for planning matters going forward, clear direction to those looking further ahead, and protects and supports growth planning work that has been done to date.

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4. Why are the forecasts being extended to 2041? Can municipalities designate land for development to 2041?

Extending the forecasts to 2041 provides forecasts for long-term planning for the right infrastructure, including transit, water and wastewater systems, transportation corridors and community infrastructure, for the future.

The Growth Plan helps to ensure that growth is managed sustainably, with more efficient use of land, increased transit investments, and a greater focus on developing complete communities. Municipalities are required to plan and manage growth to 2041 in their official plans using the Schedule 3 forecasts. Population and employment growth will be accommodated by directing a significant portion of new growth to existing built-up areas through intensification.

Under the Growth Plan, municipalities may only make available new land through a settlement area boundary expansion for urban development to accommodate the needs of the growth forecast for a time horizon of up to 20 years. Settlement area boundary expansions may only occur as part of a municipal comprehensive review. This includes a number of tests that must be met prior to approving any expansion, including not exceeding a 20-year land supply, not adversely affecting the achievement of the targets, and ensuring that the expansion can be provided in a financially and environmentally sustainable manner.

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5. Why are there two sets of forecasts for 2031 being included in Amendment 2?

During the consultation on Proposed Amendment 2, many stakeholders supported maintaining the existing 2031 forecasts to avoid disrupting ongoing Growth Plan conformity (particularly matters before the Ontario Municipal Board). Requests were also made to use the updated 2031 forecasts, to allow municipalities to plan for realistic long-term growth. Therefore Amendment 2 includes both the existing 2031 forecasts and updated forecasts for 2031, and also provides clear direction on the application of the two sets of 2031 forecasts.

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6. How was Amendment 2 developed?

Amendment 2 (2013) of the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006 was developed through extensive consultation with partners from across the Greater Golden Horseshoe. This includes consultation on Proposed Amendment 2 that was released on November 2, 2012, as well as feedback on a review of the population and employment forecasts that began in 2010.

The population and employment forecasts contained in Amendment 2 are based on work completed by Hemson Consulting. A report on that work entitled Greater Golden Horseshoe Growth Forecasts to 2041 is available on Hemson Consulting's website, in addition to an addendum that documents the revisions that were made to the forecasts following the consultation on Proposed Amendment 2.

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7. When will Amendment 2 come into effect? When do municipalities need to update their official plans to conform to Amendment 2?

The amendment comes into effect on June 17, 2013. The Places to Grow Act, 2005 provides that official plans must be amended to conform with a growth plan within three years of the effective date. This would include amendments to a growth plan.

The Act also provides that the Minister of Infrastructure can establish an alternative timeframe for conformity. The Minister has set an alternative date of June 17, 2018 for official plans to be brought into conformity with Amendment 2 to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006. This approach is intended to provide municipalities and municipal planning authorities with flexibility to undertake this work at an appropriate time in their planning cycle and, if applicable, coordinate it with the next scheduled 5-year review of their official plan pursuant to section 26 of the Planning Act.

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8. Many municipal official plans are currently before the Ontario Municipal Board. Will Amendment 2 impact these cases?

The Ministry recognizes the tremendous amount of work that municipalities have done to update their official plans to implement the Growth Plan, and wants to ensure the continuity of that work. The retention of the existing 2031 forecasts and new transition policies (5.4.5) in the Growth Plan that provide clarity to decision makers regarding the application of the growth forecasts for ongoing matters, as well as new matters.

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