Friday, November 19, 2004

Ayes the bhays!

The Liberals are nearly done their consultations on the proposed GTA greenbelt and it looks like full steam ahead. In terms of protection, I've got to admit that they pretty much got it right. Two policies which form the backbone of the plan are:

1) that 'settlement areas outside the Greenbelt are not permitted to expand into the Greenbelt area'; and

2.) 'that no new Great Lake-based water and sewer systems, or extensions or expansions to existing Great Lake-based systems, are permitted for the purpose of serving settlement areas within the Protected Countryside'.

The implication of these two, coupled with the restrictive rural severance policies mean that a line in the proverbial sand has been drawn. While it may be true that around 15 years of buildable land is still available in the designated urban area and that the plan is up for a full review in 10 years, it's still nice to see some progress.

One point though... what happened to designating southern Simcoe County and western Niagara Region? I also wonder what role politics played in omitting these areas was? Where exactly does Sobara's development company own land. If the province is truly interested in curbing sprawl, then why was the area designated as a future international transportation corridor left out? The plan also left out the area between Barrie and Bradford which is the fastest growing place in Canada - and a bedroom community of Toronto.

It sounds a bit fishy to me that the two areas which are the most susceptible to future urban sprawl were not even placed in the initial study area. It wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't so obvious - but the areas look like they've been carved out of a pie. For our sake, I just hope it wasn't by design. There's nothing more damaging than leapfrogging. Running services across the greenbelt lands is not a cheap proposition. As Ottawa has found out, inadequate protection destroys urban form as the edge cities outside the greenbelt take over:

Population__________2001_______2021
Inside Greenbelt_____517,000____588,000
Outside Greenbelt____283,000____604,000
Total_____________800,000___1,192,000
City of Ottawa Transportation Master Plan, March 2003.

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