A local environmental group is criticizing a regional committee for its approval of further urban expansion.
On May 3, Durham’s Planning and Economic Development Committee voted in favor of a modified “Scenario 2” which, if implemented, would add at least 2,500 hectares of rural land to the city limits of the city. region.
This breaks with regional staff, who recommended Scenario 4 in an April 26 report. If implemented, it would have yielded 950 hectares – a lesser amount.
Both figures are for community areas. There is a different discussion on how much land to bring in for employment areas.
“Even the Region’s staff and consultants warned against [the endorsed scenario]“, we read in a letter from the group Stop the Durham sprawl. “Even with the same flawed assumptions that have inflated estimates of land needs in York and Peel Region, Durham Region planning staff and their external land needs assessment consultants have expressed concern that that adopting the committee’s preferred scenario would sacrifice far more farmland than necessary and undermine plans to improve public transport and services in existing areas of Durham.
Stop the Durham sprawl opposed any urban expansion.
The approved scenario, described as “Scenario 2A,” followed recommendations from the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), according to staff in its April report.
“Staff are of the view that BILD should not be the recommended approach,” reads the report. “The BILD scenario provides a mix of Designated Green Area (DGA) units that is heavily skewed towards low and medium density forms of housing, which does not provide for a range of housing options in the DGA to support whole communities.”
On Tuesday, Ajax Mayor Shaun Collier spoke out against the committee’s decision.
“According to the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Ontario is losing farmland to urban development at the rate of 70 hectares per day, the equivalent of five family farms per week,” he writes. “This loss is unsustainable, period. It derails greenhouse gas emissions targets, impacts finite resources and natural heritage, causes flooding and damage problems, reduces local food production and causes undue financial stress on municipalities.
The regional council is expected to discuss the matter later in the month.