Category Archives for "Ontario"

May 29

Proposed New Ontario Land Use Policies in the Greater Golden Horseshoe are Significant

By TAO-admin | Highways & Bridges , Interurban Rail and Bus , Ontario , Urban Transit

 

 In 2015, the Province of Ontario initiated a coordinated review of four key land use plans, including the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) and the Greenbelt Plan.   In December, the Crombie Advisory Panel released its recommendations on how to amend and improve these Plans.  The November/December issue of Ontario Report discussed the Crombie Report in more detail.

 In early May, the Province released its proposed changes to these four plans.  While changes are proposed in many areas, the ones of greatest interest to sustainable transportation advocates are:

  • Increasing the intensification target in the Growth Plan to a minimum of 60% of all new residential development to occur in the existing defined built up area, versus 40% today.
  • Increasing designated greenfield area density targets (ie new developments outside the built up area) to a minimum of 80 residents + jobs per hectare, versus 50 today.
  • Requiring municipalities to plan for density targets of 150 – 200 residents + jobs per hectare within 500 m around existing and planned major transit stations.  This is a new requirement not found in the previous Growth Plan.  The definition of “major transit station” is that it covers all subway, LRT, BRT and GO RER stations.
  • Requiring identification of transit priority corridors in Official Plans where municipalities would focus transit-related development
  • Supporting the development of community hubs by encouraging public services to be located near strategic growth areas, accessible by active transportation and public transit.
  • Improving transit to employment areas.
  • Protecting infrastructure corridors for goods movement.
  • Requiring mapping of major and potential rapid transit lines and good movement corridors.

  

There are major implications to these proposals.  For example, York Region, a rapidly growing edge municipality, has been working on an update to its Official Plan to 2041.  Different Region-wide intensification scenarios have been analyzed by staff planners.  Staff is  clearly pro-intensification and acknowledge the lower capital and operating costs from higher intensification.  However, they have misgivings about intensification targets beyond 50%, as it would force virtually all new home construction to be apartments or condos.  They believe a significant fraction of new-home buyers still want single family detached homes, and hence believe that > 50% is unrealistic from a market perspective.

What will be the effect if the province implements these higher intensification targets, the higher designated greenfield targets and the new transit station targets?  Will the suburban regions rebel, especially as money from the province to construct rapid transit is inadequate?  Will developers step up lobbying and/or appeal to the OMB?  Will the prices for detached homes continue to skyrocket?  Will the home construction market crater?  Will the anticipated growth not materialize?

 The combined review also contains various climate change policies, including requiring municipalities to incorporate climate change policies in their Official Plans and to develop greenhouse gas  (GHG) inventories, reduction strategies and performance measures.  The largest contributor to GHG emissions in the province is transportation.  Will these policies by enough to slow down the growth in Vehicle Kilometers Travelled?   Will the policies be a factor in the upcoming decision whether to restart the Environmental Assessment for the GTA-West expressway (Highway 413)?  Should more be done in the outer ring of the GGH by encouraging interurban passenger rail and bus?  Should the province become more active in supporting intermodal goods movement?

 In conclusion, just as the original 2006 plans changed the face of land use planning in the GGH, the proposed 2016 changes also appear to be very significant, although many questions remain.  Public consultation is planned by the Province until September 30, 2016. 

May 28

Toronto Council will be without Reliable Fare Information for Key Transit Network Decision

By TAO-admin | Letters , Ontario , Urban Transit

Toronto Council will be voting in July to approve a new rapid transit network.  A cautionary note was sent to key Councillors indicating that the decision should be deferred until Metrolinx-lead work on fare integration is complete.

 

The letter is reproduced below:

In July, Council will be asked to approve a conceptual transit network prepared by City Planning that is to be supported by a model forecasting projected ridership in 2031 and 2041, as provided by Dr. Eric Miller using the GTA Model version 4.  This model includes assumptions about fares.  As you probably know, there is a Metrolinx-led parallel exercise taking place on fare integration affecting most of the GTA (including Toronto) that is independent of the modeling work being prepared by Dr. Miller.  At this time, Dr. Miller can only realistically use the status quo fare structures currently in place on GO Transit and the TTC,  in the absence of an approved new policy on fare integration passed by either City Council or the province, as staff cannot make assumptions on such matters in the absence of such an approved policy.
 
The schedules of the Miller report and the Metrolinx fare integration study are currently not in alignment, based on the updates received in April from Metrolinx and in March from City Planning.  These two initiatives must have their schedules coordinated for Dr. Miller’s model to reflect the fare context of the GTA in 2031, instead of fare context the GTA has today.  The fare integration policy will not be known until the Fall, as September may the first opportunity City Council has to vote on it based on Metrolinx’s current timetable with consultations concluding in August. 
 
The ridership model that Dr. Miller has been preparing for City Planning therefore will not reflect the network before Council because the fare assumptions will not be appropriate – this is unfair to Dr. Miller and is not helpful to Council.  Fares have a significant influence on rider route choice and ridership demand.  Without the completed fare integration work prepared by Metrolinx, Dr. Miller cannot prepare a reliable model for Council to base their decisions on since nobody at this stage has any confidence in what the future integrated fare structure may look like.
 
Given the size and complexity of the decision coming before Council, and the delicate, even vulnerable, balance in which the existing subway network currently finds itself, with potentially worrisome impacts on public safety due to extreme platform crowding at the Bloor-Yonge station and possibly other stations at the southern end of the Yonge line, Council must have reliable modeling results to make such decisions.  We urge Council to defer this decision until the fare integration work is ready and available to Dr. Miller and ridership results based on those inputs included in a report before Council.
 
We will be happy to answer any questions on this important matter.
 
Sincerely,
 
Peter Miasek
President, Transport Action Ontario
Apr 20

New Directions – Advancing Southwestern Ontario’s Public Transportation Opportunities

By TAO-admin | Interurban Rail and Bus , Ontario , Urban Transit

Oxford County has developed an advocacy approach to advance Southwestern Ontario public transportation opportunities.  To support this, they have released a “New Direction” public transportation tool kit summarizing the key components required:

  • Partnerships
  • Multi-modal terminals
  • Urban Transit
  • Inter-Community Bus Service
  • GO Transit
  • High-Performance Rail
  • High-Speed Rail

 

The tool kit and advocacy plan draw heavily on the concepts advanced by Transport Action Ontario, such as Network Southwest Rail and Bus Plan, inter-community bus service modernization and High Performance Rail.   The tool kit has received interest from other parts of Ontario, including Western Ontario Wardens Caucus, Southwest Ontario Urban Mayors Conference, Niagara Chamber of Commerce and Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus.

 

The tool kit can be viewed at this link:  Oxford County New Directions Final 160420