Projects > Places to Grow

Places to Grow

Ontario, Canada 1998 - 2011

Photo of people sitting around a table with a model at the centre and pointing to a building.

Urban Strategies was a major contributor to the development of a growth management plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe Region of Ontario. This mega-region of 110 different municipal jurisdictions (with Toronto at its centre), is expected to grow by 3.7 million people and 1.8 million jobs by 2031, making it one of the fastest growing mega-regions in North America. It is Ontario’s economic engine, accounting for 70% of Ontario’s – and 30% of Canada’s – Gross Domestic Product.

The Plan aims to revitalize downtowns across the region; create complete communities that offer more options for living, working, shopping and playing; curb sprawl and protect farmland and green spaces; and reduce traffic gridlock. The Plan is well integrated with other government initiatives including the Greenbelt Plan, the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority, Planning Act Reform, and reform of the Ontario Municipal Board, and included exemplary extensive public engagement, consultation, and participation. The Growth Plan sets the stage for growth management throughout the region, as official plans for municipalities in the region must be brought into conformity with the growth plan within three years of its adoption.

Urban Strategies was part of an advisory Smart Growth Panel, starting in 1998. We prepared two background reports for the Draft Growth Plan: the Land-Use Intensification Targets report concentrated on the issues pertaining to intensification targets in the Greater Golden Horseshoe; and the Research and Policy Options for Employment Lands examined national and international precedents in order to develop policy recommendations for the finalized Growth Plan.

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After approval of the Growth Plan, we provided consulting services for identification of the approximate size and location of each Urban Growth Centre in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. This report creates a higher level of consistency and provides municipalities with clear principles and criteria that can be applied to all centres in the region.

For three years, Urban Strategies facilitated a series of youth charrettes on the topic of Downtown Growth Planning And Intensification, specifically related to Places to Grow. Over six weeks, 48 young people aged 16 and 17, from eight urban growth centres across the Greater Golden Horseshoe participated in this pilot project by modeling their 30-year plans for the regeneration and redevelopment of their downtowns. In 2011, Urban Strategies conducted interviews and compiled Places to Grow progress assessments for ten municipalities across the Greater Golden Horseshoe that contributed to a five-year progress report: “How is the Growth Plan Working So Far”.

Project Details


Ontario Growth Secretariat
Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure
Province of Ontario

Land Use/Scale

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