Developers stand to make windfall profits when lands outside existing urban boundaries are opened up for development. If environmental regulations, municipal planning or public consultation get in the way, they can resort to Minister’s Zoning Orders which bypass such steps.
Zoning should promote infill development. To increase housing supply and affordability, municipal zoning should promote building on vacant or underutilized lands already designated for growth (which, of course, would not include urban greenspace).
Zoning should promote gentle density. Allowing more multi-unit and mid-rise buildings (e.g., smaller scale apartment buildings, semi-detached homes, townhomes and co-housing), would provide more affordable options for seniors (looking to downsize yet stay within their communities), single people and families with smaller housing budgets.
Gentle density creates more walkable, sustainable neighbourhoods. Gentle density provides easier access to amenities and services and public transit. According to the Task Force, “gentle density also makes better use of roads, water and wastewater systems, transit and other public services that are already in place and have capacity, instead of having to be built in new areas.” Using existing infrastructure means savings for municipalities and taxpayers.
Don’t be fooled by calls to expand urban boundaries. Continued sprawl is not the answer. There are far more effective ways to provide affordable housing, premised on densification rather than sacrificing precious remaining wetlands, forests and farmland. At stake are climate resilience, food security, clean water, biodiversity conservation and access to nearby nature, so vital to our health and well-being.