Dec 6, 2004 - Province ramming through Greenbelt legislation prematurely

January 18, 2005

Dec 6, 2004

Province ramming through Greenbelt legislation prematurely
Attached: GTHBA’s response to the proposed Greenbelt Act

Toronto– Preserving a massive greenbelt around the Greater Toronto Area before establishing a plan to accommodate future growth is putting the cart before the horse, according to Greater Toronto’s home builders.

“Because the province is rushing ahead with a land freeze of 1.8 million acres before releasing its final report on growth management, we know where we can’t build, but not where we can build,” says Mark Parsons, president of the Greater Toronto Home Builders’ Association.

The province is cutting off debate on the Greenbelt Protection Act a mere six weeks after it was introduced, allowing just four hours of committee hearings before ramming it through.

Meanwhile, the precise boundaries of the greenbelt won’t be finalized until 45 days after the legislation is passed, and it will be sometime afterwards (who knows when?) when Public Infrastructure Minister David Caplan brings forth a growth management plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

“The growth management plan is vital to assessing the net impact of the greenbelt on the home building industry’s ability to meet provincial growth projections. Of the very few details provided in that legislation, the arbitrary 40 per cent intensification target effectively means the greenbelt is much, much larger than the government maps show,” said Parsons.

While supporting in principle the preservation of vital environmental and agricultural land from development, the home builders are calling for better balance.

“Housing restrictions will increase prices, driving people out of the market, particularly first-time buyers and new Canadians,” Parsons predicts. “That could stall one of the largest and most productive industries in Ontario, reducing jobs, tax revenue and everyone’s quality of life.”

Of particular concern to home builders is the availability of land for housing, whether single-family homes in the suburbs or high-rise condos in urban areas.

“Because of rampant not-in-my-backyard thinking, the kind of higher density development the province wants is opposed by local residents even in mid-town Toronto,” Parson says. “And if half of all new suburban land that may become available has to be set aside for open space, it’s hard to see how we can ever build enough homes to meet the GTA’s growing population.”

Buyers are also left wondering what to do. A recent survey confirmed that a majority want to live in a single-family home in the suburbs, but they believe that provincial plans will reduce supply and cause prices to rise, and if that happens they will either stay put or move out of the GTA.

In other words, they reject the province’s goal of higher-density urban housing. 

For a copy of GTHBA’s response to the proposed Greenbelt Act,
please click here [PDF]

For more information, contact:
Suzanna Cohen, Director of Communications 416-391-3450
Stephen Dupuis, Executive Vice President 416-391-3453