How We Grow Matters

Sprawl does not provide the types of housing people can afford and its the root cause of virtually all the major issues the region faces. Growing inward is the best long term growth strategy for Ontario.

The alternative is to grow inwards - not sprawl.

There are competing visions of the future. The province is pushing for more carbon intensive growth than we can afford. Sprawl does not provide the types of housing people can afford and costs us all — in worsening health, more time in cars, higher taxes, more emissions, and continued loss of farmland, wetlands and nature. It also does not pay for itself and creates a permanent infrastructure deficit which future generations will have to pay for.

The alternative is to grow inwards - not sprawl.

Building inward means making better use of all the empty and underused space within our urban boundaries and all the existing pipes, roads and transit services. It costs less, helps to revitalize our communities and creates local jobs. And it’s climate friendly while avoiding paving over more farmland, forests and wetlands.

But the Ontario government is going the wrong way – contradicting the stated intentions of its own Growth Plan and undermining its $60 billion rapid transit plan.

The problem is that new provincial policy promotes single and semi-detached housing which the majority of people cannot afford - that solves nothing. Worse, this type of housing uses more land than other housing and requires spending billions on big pipes and highways. And that puts the Greenbelt at risk.

The answer is to build all kinds of housing — a mix — in our existing urban areas as it is inherently less costly and is served by transit. This includes gentle density throughout our cities, medium density along transit lines and higher density, around transit stations. We need purpose built rental and supportive housing people for students, seniors and people who can’t afford ownership. Housing policy should encourage, and if necessary require, developers to build “missing middle” housing which  people need and can afford, not solely” sprawl and tall” projects serve their own interests without helping the housing situation.

The housing we have 

Right now, most housing throughout the Golden Horseshoe region is ground-level housing, like single detached homes. These can be dream homes for some people, but for those who can’t afford a place to live it’s creating a housing nightmare. Much of this single housing is increasingly expensive and unaffordable for many people.  A housing study in Pickering found that 80 per cent of households could not afford a single or semi-detached house. More housing choices are needed that people can afford.

In most municipalities there is more than enough land set aside for housing to take us up to the year 2041 or beyond  — especially if we build more housing types like missing middle housing types, four to eight stories in walkable communities. As well, there will be hundreds and hundreds of thousands of single detached homes coming up for sale over the next 30 years as the Boomers will either downsize or pass on with the youngest being 85 years old in 2051.

Photo credits: Environmental Defence

The housing and jobs we need

Transit-oriented communities need to serve people not developers

Building housing and offices around transit stations is a good idea. It provides accessible housing and jobs for people who can’t afford a car or don’t want to drive. It also makes getting to work a lot easier.

Building housing around a GO Train line becomes cost effective for transit with about 150 people per hectare to support the line by using it. Subways require 200 to 400 people per hectare to make transit viable.

But the province is ignoring its own policies and instead imposing densities that are double or more – both within the built-up areas in both Toronto and the 905 regions. These tall towers are creating opposition to the idea of transit-oriented communities. We support a balanced approach to density with good urban design that improves the community.

Democracy in Peril

The Government has been systematically restricting and silencing the rights of individuals and municipalities to impose a sprawl agenda. Due to provincial policy changes, your future community will be decided by developers not by people you elect to make these decisions.

Too many regulations which protect the public interest have been weakened including: The Environmental Assessment Act, Conservation Authorities Act and Endangered Species Act. These changes impact clean water resources, environmental health and wildlife.

Topping this off is an unprecedented use of Minister’s Zoning Orders, (MZO) and Transit Oriented Communities legislation which the Minister and Government are using to override municipal plans by-pass any individual or municipal input and ignore all existing planning rules.

Check out our resources page for webinars, maps and more




Friends care about keeping our Greenbelt protected.



Your voice matters and can make a difference!



Check out our resources page for webinars, maps and more