We want Peel Region to develop and vote on a zero-boundary expansion option!
We’re average residents who want to protect greenspace and farmland, not planning experts, but we do know that planning staff in both Halton and Hamilton were able to develop plans that accommodated new residents without expanding the settlement area boundaries and put that option before council for a vote alongside other options. And there’s no reason Peel region can’t do the same! Why should we plan for 30 years of growth in Peel Region without even considering all of our options?
If you want to check our work – most of the numbers in this explanation are taken from this report.
Planning for 700,000 new residents of Peel by 2051
In the Municipal Comprehensive Review Peel Region must make plans to accommodate 700,000 new residents.
Where might people go?
There are three options:
1) Some people can be accommodated in “existing built-up areas” through intensification.
2) Some people can be accommodated in “designated greenfield areas” which is the term for land inside the urban boundaries that hasn’t been developed yet.
3) If there are still people to accommodate after options 1 and 2, Peel Region must open up new land to developers through a “settlement area boundary expansion” – most of which is currently farmland in sensitive areas in Brampton and Caledon.
The projections staff are currently working with suggest that Peel Region will have to open over 10,000 additional acres to development (about 7000 for residential and 3000 for employment) – but these numbers can change depending on Peel Region's planning policies and zoning choices. Stop Sprawl Peel is calling on Peel Region to consider all their options and choose the best plan, rather than just choosing more of the same.
Existing Built Up Area
The percentage of new residents who are housed in existing built up areas is called the ‘intensification rate.’ Peel Region is currently planning for a minimum of 55% intensification. In Hamilton, the options ranged from 60% intensification to 81% in their successful zero-boundary expansion option. In many areas of Peel, it is difficult to get around without a car – adding gentle density increases walkability and makes frequent transit more viable. Adding more people to sprawling neighbourhoods also adds more customers for local businesses and restaurants – helping Peel to express its own local character! Climate change makes it even more important that we find ways to help people walk or bike to shopping, working and restaurants. More density doesn’t only mean more towers – we can also add people in townhouses and ‘garden suites’ which are a great option for letting aging relatives preserve their independence while also living close to other family members.
Designated Greenfield Areas
Peel Region currently has 7,000 hectares of developable “DGA lands” where we are already planning to build new residential and employment areas. Depending on how we plan these regions we will need to open up more or less new land to developers. Under older provincial guidelines DGA lands needed 80 people and jobs per hectare. 90 or 100 people per hectare are required to support good transit. But right now Peel Region is only planning for 65 people and jobs per hectare in these areas! Building out new developments at low densities will also drive up property taxes in the long run, because new, low-density development usually can’t pay for the roads, sewers and other infrastructure they require! Peel Region should model our future with higher numbers of people and jobs per hectare in DGA lands. If we want to bring down greenhouse gas emissions we must plan new neighbourhoods with a transit-first mentality!
We also wonder why staff expects 3 people per unit in 2051, when there are 3.29 people per unit in Peel Region now (p.35) – those decimal points mean hundreds of acres of farmland because we will have to build 10% more units for the same number of people.
So what’s our ask?
Peel Region Council should direct staff to reconsider all the input factors that go into determining how much new land is needed and develop a zero-boundary expansion option and a broader range of low-expansion options, just like Hamilton, Halton and now Orillia, so that Regional Councillors and the people of Peel Region can make a real decision about what kind of future we want.