3.1 Context

Well planned infrastructure is essential to the viability of Ontario’s communities and critical to economic competitiveness, quality of life, and the delivery of public services. This Plan provides the framework to guide and prioritize infrastructure planning and investments in the GGH to support and accommodate forecasted growth to the horizon of this Plan and beyond.

The infrastructure framework in this Plan requires that municipalities undertake an integrated approach to land use planning, infrastructure investments, and environmental protection to achieve the outcomes of the Plan. Co-ordination of these different dimensions of planning allows municipalities to identify the most cost-effective options for sustainably accommodating forecasted growth to the horizon of this Plan to support the achievement of complete communities. It is estimated that over 30 per cent of infrastructure capital costs, and 15 per cent of operating costsfootnote 4, could be saved by moving from unmanaged growth to a more compact built form.

This Plan is aligned with the Province’s approach to long-term infrastructure planning as enshrined in the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act, 2015, which established mechanisms to encourage principled, evidence-based and strategic long-term infrastructure planning.

This Plan is also aligned with the Province’s municipal asset management regulation. The purpose of the regulation is to improve the way municipalities plan for their infrastructure and includes requirements that promote alignment of planning for land use and infrastructure. Significant cost savings can be achieved by ensuring that existing infrastructure is optimized before new infrastructure is built. This principle is integrated into the policies of this Plan and applies to all forms of infrastructure.

The transportation system for the GGH must be planned and managed for the safe and efficient movement of goods and people, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other negative environmental impacts.

Transit is the first priority for transportation planning and investment. The transit network will support and facilitate improved linkages between strategic growth areas and other areas planned for a mix of uses and transit-supportive densities. System users will benefit from improved linkages between and within municipalities as well as transit service integration.

A comprehensive and continuous active transportation network will offer a viable alternative to the private automobile for personal travel. Using a complete streets approach to roadway design, reconstruction, and refurbishment will ensure that the needs and safety of all road users are considered when planning and building the street network.

To support goods movement, this Plan calls for a co-ordinated goods movement network that links major goods movement facilities and corridors to the provincial highway network and areas of significant commercial activity. This Plan also calls for the long-term protection of planned corridors and the co-location of infrastructure in these corridors where appropriate.

A clean and sustainable supply of water is essential to the long-term health and prosperity of the region. There is a need to co-ordinate investment in water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure to service future growth in ways that are fiscally sustainable and linked to decisions about how these systems are paid for and administered. Water infrastructure planning will be informed by watershed planning to ensure that the quality and quantity of water is maintained.

The importance of the Great Lakes is reflected in many provincial initiatives, including the Great Lakes Protection Act, 2015 and Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy. This Plan supports these initiatives by providing direction on watershed-based, integrated water, wastewater, and stormwater master planning and by restricting future extensions of water and wastewater servicing from the Great Lakes.

Climate change poses a serious challenge for maintaining existing infrastructure and planning for new infrastructure, however, vulnerability assessments can help to identify risks and options for enhancing resilience. Similarly, comprehensive stormwater management planning, including the use of appropriate low impact development and green infrastructure, can increase the resiliency of our communities.

Investment in public service facilities – such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, libraries and schools – should be planned and located to keep pace with changing needs, maximize existing infrastructure and to support the achievement of complete communities, co-locating services in community hubs and prioritizing strategic growth areas as appropriate.

3.2 Policies for infrastructure to support growth

3.2.1 Integrated planning

  1. Infrastructure planning, land use planning, and infrastructure investment will be co-ordinated to implement this Plan.
  2. Planning for new or expanded infrastructure will occur in an integrated manner, including evaluations of long-range scenario-based land use planning, environmental planning and financial planning, and will be supported by relevant studies and should involve:
    1. leveraging infrastructure investment to direct growth and development in accordance with the policies and schedules of this Plan, including the achievement of the minimum intensification and density targets in this Plan;
    2. providing sufficient infrastructure capacity in strategic growth areas;
    3. identifying the full life cycle costs of infrastructure and developing options to pay for these costs over the long-term; and
    4. considering the impacts of a changing climate.
  3. Infrastructure investment and other implementation tools and mechanisms will be used to facilitate intensification and higher density development in strategic growth areas. Priority will be given to infrastructure investments made by the Province that support the policies and schedules of this Plan.
  4. Municipalities will assess infrastructure risks and vulnerabilities, including those caused by the impacts of a changing climate, and identify actions and investments to address these challenges, which could be identified as part of municipal asset management planning.
  5. The Province will work with public sector partners, including Metrolinx, to identify strategic infrastructure needs to support the implementation of this Plan through multi-year infrastructure planning for the transportation system and public service facilities.

3.2.2 Transportation – general

  1. Transportation system planning, land use planning, and transportation investment will be co-ordinated to implement this Plan.
  2. The transportation system within the GGH will be planned and managed to:
    1. provide connectivity among transportation modes for moving people and for moving goods;
    2. offer a balance of transportation choices that reduces reliance upon the automobile and promotes transit and active transportation;
    3. be sustainable and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging the most financially and environmentally appropriate mode for trip-making and supporting the use of zero- and low-emission vehicles;
    4. offer multimodal access to jobs, housing, schools, cultural, and recreational opportunities, and goods and services;
    5. accommodate agricultural vehicles and equipment, as appropriate; and
    6. provide for the safety of system users.
  3. In the design, refurbishment, or reconstruction of the existing and planned street network, a complete streets approach will be adopted that ensures the needs and safety of all road users are considered and appropriately accommodated.
  4. Municipalities will develop and implement transportation demand management policies in official plans or other planning documents or programs to:
    1. reduce trip distance and time;
    2. increase the modal share of alternatives to the automobile, which may include setting modal share targets;
    3. prioritize active transportation,transit, and goods movement over single-occupant automobiles;
    4. expand infrastructure to support active transportation; and
    5. consider the needs of major trip generators.

3.2.3 Moving people

  1. Public transit will be the first priority for transportation infrastructure planning and major transportation investments.
  2. All decisions on transit planning and investment will be made according to the following criteria:
    1. aligning with, and supporting, the priorities identified in Schedule 5;
    2. prioritizing areas with existing or planned higher residential or employment densities to optimize return on investment and the efficiency and viability of existing and planned transit service levels;
    3. increasing the capacity of existing transit systems to support strategic growth areas;
    4. expanding transit service to areas that have achieved, or will be planned to achieve, transit-supportive densities and provide a mix of residential, office, institutional, and commercial development, wherever possible;
    5. facilitating improved linkages between and within municipalities from nearby neighbourhoods to urban growth centres, major transit station areas, and other strategic growth areas;
    6. increasing the modal share of transit; and
    7. contributing towards the provincial greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.
  3. Municipalities will work with transit operators, the Province, Metrolinx where applicable, and each other to support transit service integration within and across municipal boundaries.
  4. Municipalities will ensure that active transportation networks are comprehensive and integrated into transportation planning to provide:
    1. safe, comfortable travel for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other users of active transportation; and
    2. continuous linkages between strategic growth areas, adjacent neighbourhoods, major trip generators, and transit stations, including dedicated lane space for bicyclists on the major street network, or other safe and convenient alternatives.

3.2.4 Moving goods

  1. Linking major goods movement facilities and corridors, international gateways, and employment areas to facilitate efficient goods movement will be the first priority of highway investment.
  2. The Province and municipalities will work with agencies and transportation service providers to:
    1. co-ordinate, optimize, and ensure the long-term viability of major goods movement facilities and corridors;
    2. improve corridors for moving goods across the GGH in accordance with Schedule 6;
    3. promote and better integrate multimodal goods movement and freight-supportive land use and transportation system planning; and
    4. accommodate agricultural vehicles and equipment, as appropriate.
  3. Municipalities will provide for the establishment of priority routes for goods movement, where feasible, to facilitate the movement of goods into and out of employment areas and other areas of significant commercial activity and to provide alternate routes connecting to the provincial network.

3.2.5 Infrastructure corridors

  1. In planning for the development, optimization, or expansion of existing and planned corridors and supporting facilities, the Province, other public agencies and upper- and single-tier municipalities will:
    1. encourage the co-location of linear infrastructure where appropriate;
    2. ensure that existing and planned corridors are protected to meet current and projected needs in accordance with the transportation and infrastructure corridor protection policies in the PPS;
    3. where applicable, demonstrate through an agricultural impact assessment or equivalent analysis as part of an environmental assessment, that any impacts on the Agricultural System have been avoided or, if avoidance is not possible, minimized and to the extent feasible mitigated;
    4. where applicable, demonstrate through an environmental assessment, that any impacts on key natural heritage features in the Natural Heritage System for the Growth Plan, key hydrologic features and key hydrologic areas have been avoided or, if avoidance is not possible, minimized and to the extent feasible mitigated; and
    5. for existing or planned corridors for transportation:
      1. consider increased opportunities for moving people and goods by rail;
      2. consider separation of modes within corridors; and
      3. provide opportunities for inter-modal linkages.
  2. The planning, location, and design of planned corridors and the land use designations along these corridors will support the policies of this Plan, in particular that development is directed to settlement areas.

3.2.6 Water and wastewater systems

  1. Municipalities should generate sufficient revenue to recover the full cost of providing and maintaining municipal waterand wastewater systems.
  2. Municipal water and wastewater systems and private communal water and wastewater systems will be planned, designed, constructed, or expanded in accordance with the following:
    1. opportunities for optimization and improved efficiency within existing systems will be prioritized and supported by strategies for energy and water conservation and water demand management;
    2. the system will serve growth in a manner that supports achievement of the minimum intensification and density targets in this Plan;
    3. a comprehensive water or wastewater master plan or equivalent, informed by watershed planning or equivalent has been prepared to:
      1. demonstrate that the effluent discharges and water takings associated with the system will not negatively impact the quality and quantity of water;
      2. identify the preferred option for servicing growth and development, subject to the hierarchy of services provided in policies,, and of the PPS, 2020, which must not exceed the assimilative capacity of the effluent receivers and sustainable water supply for servicing, ecological, and other needs; and
      3. identify the full life cycle costs of the system and develop options to pay for these costs over the long-term.
    4. in the case of large subsurface sewage disposal systems, the proponent has demonstrated attenuation capacity; and
    5. plans have been considered in the context of applicable inter-provincial, national, bi-national, or state-provincial Great Lakes Basin agreements or provincial legislation or strategies.
  1. For settlement areas that are serviced by rivers, inland lakes, or groundwater, municipalities will not be permitted to extend water or wastewater services from a Great Lakes source unless:
    1. the extension is required for reasons of public health and safety, in which case, the capacity of the water or wastewater services provided in these circumstances will be limited to that required to service the affected settlement area, including capacity for planned development within the approved settlement areaboundary;
    2. in the case of an upper- or single-tier municipality with an urban growth centre outside of the Greenbelt Area:
      1. the need for the extension has been demonstrated;
      2. the increased servicing capacity will only be allocated to settlement areas with urban growth centres; and
      3. the municipality has completed the applicable environmental assessment process in accordance with the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act; or
    3. the extension had all necessary approvals as of July 1, 2017 and is only to service growth within the settlement area boundary delineated in the official plan that is approved and in effect as of that date.
  2. Municipalities that share an inland water source or receiving water body will co-ordinate their planning for potable water, stormwater, and wastewater systems based on watershed planning or equivalent to ensure that the quality and quantity of water is protected, improved, or restored.

3.2.7 Stormwater management

  1. Municipalities will develop stormwater master plans or equivalent for serviced settlement areas that:
    1. are informed by watershed planningor equivalent;
    2. protect the quality and quantity of water by assessing existing stormwater facilities and systems;
    3. characterize existing environmental conditions;
    4. examine the cumulative environmental impacts of stormwater from existing and planned development, including an assessment of how extreme weather events will exacerbate these impacts and the identification of appropriate adaptation strategies;
    5. incorporate appropriate low impact development and green infrastructure;
    6. identify the need for stormwater retrofits, where appropriate;
    7. identify the full life cycle costs of the stormwater infrastructure, including maintenance costs, and develop options to pay for these costs over the long-term; and
    8. include an implementation and maintenance plan.
  2. Proposals for large-scale development proceeding by way of a secondary plan, plan of subdivision, vacant land plan of condominium or site plan will be supported by a stormwater management plan or equivalent, that:
    1. is informed by a subwatershed plan or equivalent;
    2. incorporates an integrated treatment approach to minimize stormwater flows and reliance on stormwater ponds, which includes appropriate low impact development and green infrastructure;
    3. establishes planning, design, and construction practices to minimize vegetation removal, grading and soil compaction, sediment erosion, and impervious surfaces; and
    4. aligns with the stormwater master plan or equivalent for the settlement area, where applicable.

3.2.8 Public service facilities

  1. Planning for public service facilities, land use planning and investment in public service facilities will be co-ordinated to implement this Plan.
  2. Public service facilities and public services should be co-located in community hubs and integrated to promote cost-effectiveness.
  3. Priority should be given to maintaining and adapting existing public service facilities and spaces as community hubs to meet the needs of the community and optimize the long-term viability of public investments.
  4. Existing public service facilities that are located in or near strategic growth areas and are easily accessible by active transportation and transit, where that service is available, should be the preferred location for community hubs.
  5. Municipalities will collaborate and consult with service planning, funding, and delivery sectors to facilitate the co-ordination and planning of community hubs and other public service facilities.
  6. New public service facilities, including hospitals and schools, should be located in settlement areas and preference should be given to sites that are easily accessible by active transportation and transit, where that service is available.


  • footnote[4] Back to paragraph “Building Together: Guide for Municipal Asset Management Plans”, Ministry of Infrastructure, 2012