Province's support for its own initiative lacking
NEWMARKET – York Regional Council has endorsed detailed comments on the provincial growth plan, advising the Government of Ontario that Council can only support the provincial growth plan if the Province provides commitments to deliver the necessary infrastructure funding and development tools.
"Our requests for the funding and the tools we need to implement the accelerated growth in the provincial plan continue to go unanswered, yet our concerns are valid," said York Regional Chair and CEO Bill Fisch. "Unless the Province makes a commitment to address our needs for significant infrastructure funding and provide us with the tools required to implement the provincial growth plan, then York Region will be unable to act as requested."
Regional Council's decision is in response to the Province's January 27th final deadline for comments on Places to Grow – Proposed Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Over the past two years, York Regional Council has responded diligently to the province's growth plan initiatives, providing comments and reports, conducting public consultation and communicating through a variety of forums, including direct discussion with provincial ministers.
"Along with the Greenbelt Plan and the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, Places to Grow is a forward-looking and visionary plan for urban development," said Planning and Development Committee Chair James Young, Mayor of the Town of East Gwillimbury. "It provides clear direction about where and how to grow, what infrastructure we need to put in now in order to support accelerated population growth, and how to do this work while protecting our natural heritage for future generations. However, what is required now are a Provincial infrastructure investment strategy and the approvals to move forward or our growth projections cannot be met."
York Region and the Province jointly identified key infrastructure initiatives that are needed to accommodate existing approved growth in York Region, as well as the increased, provincially-forecasted growth, including:
1. A rapid transit system on York Region's four main transportation corridors
2. Full funding of GO Transit's expansion plan
3. Highway 404, Highway 427 and Bradford Bypass expansions
4. 12 new or modified interchanges and widening of 400-series Highways
5. High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on the 400-series Highways in urban areas
6. Support and funding for travel demand management programs and commuter parking lots
7. Cross-boundary and boundary road improvements
8. Expedited Individual Environmental Assessments for the Southeast Collector and Upper Leslie Crossing
9. Timely, predictable environmental approvals for 16th Avenue trunk sewer, York Durham Sewage System (YDSS) interceptor, Aurora/Newmarket equalization tanks, Bathurst/Langstaff trunk sewer, Lower Leslie sewer and Duffin Creek Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP) expansion.
To address these needs, York Regional Council requests the Province within the next six months to produce a 30-year Transportation Master Plan and a 10-year capital plan that also will address services and infrastructure, including hospitals and related human services funding and natural heritage implementation funding.
"Many people may not appreciate that York Region has been under tremendous growth pressures for more than a decade, and this pressure shows no signs of abating," added Chairman Fisch. "Our understanding and ability to manage growth in York Region were acquired through direct experience and are finely-tuned to real demands. We must obtain approvals in a timely manner or we will not be able to deliver the infrastructure capacity that a larger population requires, including more roads, water supply, sewers, solid waste options, schools, hospitals, police services, immigration services and social services."
York Region's challenges are well understood by the Province. In a letter dated October 1, 2004, the Environment Minister said the Province would deliver timely environmental and permit approvals for all of the York Durham Sewage System projects as proposed.
Other recommendations adopted by Regional Council include:
• changing the requirement for a 40 per cent intensification minimum to a target
• allowing the plan to be phased-in, in keeping with local and regional growth management plans
• enabling local municipalities to determine the locations for intensification
In addition, Regional Council requested that the Province should:
• lead and fund a comprehensive, public communications strategy to promote different urban structures in an effort to change the housing preferences of Ontario residents
• undertake a formal, comprehensive review, similar to the process applied in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) via the Greenbelt Plan, to prevent new developments from "leap-frogging" to areas immediately north of the Greenbelt into Simcoe County
• ensure that energy requirements for York Region are met, especially to ensure an adequate and reliable supply of electricity is available throughout York Region
"York Region's $33-billion economy represents 12.5 per cent of Ontario's total economy," added Chairman Fisch. "We are building a sustainable city-region that contributes significantly to Ontario's quality of life. Every investment in York Region infrastructure is an investment in Ontario's future prosperity."
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For more information on the Regional Municipality of York and the services our Region offers, please visit our Web site at: www.york.ca
Media Contact: Tim Paleczny, Corporate Communications, York Region
Phone: (905) 830-4444 Ext. 1238,
(416) 297-9696 or Toll free 1-877-464-9675