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Regional Official Plan Review: Integrated Growth Management Strategy


Update on proposed Amendment 1 to the Growth Plan, 2019 and proposed new methodology for Land Needs Assessment


On June 16, 2020 the Province released proposed Amendment No. 1 to the Growth Plan, 2019 and a proposed new Land Needs Assessment (LNA) Methodology for a public consultation period ending on July 31, 2020. Proposed Amendment No. 1 extends the planning horizon of the Growth Plan from 2041 to 2051, and identifies new population and employment forecasts to the 2051 planning horizon.


The Regional Urban Structure Discussion Paper was completed prior to the release of these documents, however the information contained in the Discussion Paper remains relevant for the purposes of public consultation on a proposed Regional Urban Structure. Amendment No. 1 and the new LNA methodology, if brought into force and effect by the Province, will be addressed in the next stage of the Integrated Growth Management Strategy.

Growth Management and the Regional Urban Structure: Why are they part of the Official Plan Review?

The Provincial Growth Plan requires Halton Region to plan for 1,000,000 persons and 470,000 jobs by 2041.  Our current Official Plan currently does not set out where and how to grow beyond 2031. It is important to plan for the future and guide investment in our community to ensure we get the community we want.

To address the need to plan to 2041, the Region is currently working on an Official Plan Review. The Regional Urban Structure Discussion Paper has been prepared as part of the Integrated Growth Management Strategy part of this project. The Discussion Paper explores where and how to grow, and the options we have for focusing growth in certain areas of the existing community or growing outward onto rural or agricultural land.

To find out more about the Regional Urban Structure and land use planning in Halton, have a look at the Regional Urban Structure Discussion Paper.

General Questionnaire

An urban structure is how the land use of a city or town is set out. It helps further the growth within our community by providing a way to guide the development of buildings, spaces or municipal infrastructure. An urban structure can consist of growth areas, employment areas, stable residential areas, and the transportation and growth corridors that connect these areas.

Growth Management and the Regional Urban Structure: Why they matter

How Halton Region manages this growth will impact the livability of our cities, delivery of services such as public health, waste management, assisted housing, and municipal infrastructures such as sewers, water, and roads. Halton Region is committed to a compact urban form that makes the best use of existing municipal infrastructure, particularly along transit and transportation corridors. This will help communities develop a healthy mix of jobs, local stores, community services, housing and transportation options.

Directing growth to areas around transit stations or hubs, and along major roads that connect those stations ensures the efficient use of existing land and municipal infrastructure. It also protects agricultural and natural areas from the pressure of development.

Downtown Milton Urban Growth Centre

Growth Management and the Regional Urban Structure: What are we doing?

The Integrated Growth Management Strategy is examining options on how to address growth requirements in Strategic Growth Areas, Employment Areas, and Settlement Areas. The Official Plan Review will look to establish a hierarchy of Strategic Growth Areas (as shown in the image) in which to direct growth and determine the need for Settlement Area boundary expansions.

Appleby GO Station

Strategic Growth Areas

Strategic Growth Areas are nodes, corridors and other areas intended to be the focus of concentrating population and job growth. The Provincial Growth Plan, 2019 (external link) identifies and assigns population and job density targets for two types of Strategic Growth Areas: Urban Growth Centres and Major Transit Station Areas. The Growth Plan requires Halton Region to set density targets for people and jobs in Urban Growth Centres, and some Major Transit Station Areas to ensure we accommodate our forecasted population to 2041.

Urban Growth Centres

Urban Growth Centres are existing or emerging downtown areas identified by the Growth Plan, 2019 (external link). The Growth Plan provides strong policy guidance for the vibrant, transit-supportive, mixed-use development of Halton Region’s three urban growth centres.

Halton Region has three 3 Urban Growth Centres: Midtown Oakville, Downtown Burlington, and Downtown Milton.

Major Transit Station Areas

A Major Transit Station Area is the area within a 500 to an 800-metre radius of a transit station, representing a 10-minute walk. They are primarily along existing or planned transit corridors (e.g. Bus Rapid Transit, and GO Train). Major Transit Station Areas are intended to be developed as higher density, mixed-use communities that enable people to rely on transit to access local amenities, housing, and work.

Majort Transit Station Areas in Halton Region include Oakville GO, Burlington GO, Milton GO, Georgetown GO, Acton GO Stations.

Corridors and other Strategic Growth Areas

Transit priority corridors and Regional transit nodes are important areas that connect the system of Strategic Growth Areas within and beyond Halton Region and can accommodate bus rapid transit or frequent bus service. The local municipalities have also identified strategic growth areas as parts of their local urban structures that can complement or be integrated into the Regional Urban Structure.

Hierarchy of Strategic Growth Areas


  Urban Growth Centre
  Corridor to Support Transit
  Major Transit Station Area
  Additional Strategic Node
  Higher Order Transit Corridor
  Transit Stations
  Natural Areas

For more information on planning related to Community Areas and Strategic Growth Areas, refer to Section 3 of the Regional Urban Structure Discussion Paper.

Employment Areas

Employment Areas are areas designated in an official plan for clusters of business and economic activities including, but not limited to, manufacturing, warehousing, offices, and associated retail and additional facilities. Our current Regional Official Plan has strong policies to ensure the protection of Halton Region’s employment areas to support job growth, economic growth and competitiveness.

The Official Plan Review allows us to consider alternative ways to support forward-thinking employment policies to meet the new Regional and Provincial objectives in the Growth Plan, 2019.

46% of Halton Region businesses and 54% of Halton Region jobs are located within the employment areas (2019). The remainder of the jobs are contained in downtown areas, shopping areas, schools and other locations throughout the community.

What is an Employment Area conversion?

The conversion of lands from employment use to permit non-employment uses such as residential, major retail, or mixed uses within an employment area is being considered through our Official Plan Review. This may be possible where existing industrial employment land parcels are no longer suitable for industrial uses.  

To provide Regional staff with an opportunity to consider potential conversions, requests should be submitted to the Region at by August 31, 2020. 

To date, Halton Region has received 40 requests to remove a total of 900 hectares of lands from the Region’s Employment Area.

Conversion requests received by this date will be included in the inventory and considered as part of the current municipal comprehensive review process.

For more information on planning related to Employment Areas including the criteria for employment conversion requests, refer to Section 4 of the Regional Urban Structure Discussion Paper.

Expansion to Settlement Areas

A Settlement Area is defined as urban areas and rural settlements within municipalities that are built-up areas where development is already concentrated and which have a mix of land uses. If there are insufficient opportunities to accommodate the forecasted population and job growth in the Delineated Built-up Area or existing Designated Greenfield Area than a Settlement Area expansion may be needed. Most population growth must be directed inside the Delineated Built-up Area in areas where there is existing municipal infrastructure (water, sewers, roads) while development in Designated Greenfield Areas typically needs investment in municipal infrastructure (as shown in the image).

Delineated Built Up Areas vs. Designated Greenfield Areas


  Delineated Built-Up Area
Growth to occur in Delineated Built-Up Areas through Intensification or Infill Development
  Designated Greenfield Areas
Growth to occur in Designated Greenfield Areas through New Development
  Infill Development
  New Development
  Existing Development

For more info on planning related to Settlement Areas including the criteria to evaluate potential settlement area expansions, refer to Section 5 of the Regional Urban Structure Discussion Paper.

Get involved and have your say!

The Regional Official Plan shapes how and where Halton grows—and your input is valuable as we make these decisions for our community!

To help you learn more about this topic, you can read our  Regional Urban Structure (Integrated Growth Management Strategy) Discussion Paper (PDF file). The paper provides more detailed information about how regional urban growth relates to the Regional Official Plan.

Our general and technical questionnaires are now closed. We will continue to welcome feedback through the next stages of the Regional Official Plan Review process. Please check the Regional Official Plan Review page regularly or sign up to receive email notifications to stay up to date. If you have any questions or comments, please email or call 311.

Additional resources

If you require an alternative format or need accommodation, please call 311, email, TTY 905-827-9833 or 1-866-442-5866. We will work with you to meet your needs.