Part V: Policies 1.0 Building strong healthy communities
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Part V: Policies
1.0 Building strong healthy communities
Ontario is a vast province with urban, rural, and northern communities with diversity in population, economic activities, pace of growth, service levels and physical and natural conditions. Ontario’s long-term prosperity, environmental health and social well-being depend on wisely managing change and promoting efficient land use and development patterns. Efficient land use and development patterns support sustainability by promoting strong, liveable, healthy and resilient communities, protecting the environment and public health and safety, and facilitating economic growth.
1.1 Managing and directing land use to achieve efficient and resilient development and land use patterns
1.1.1 Healthy, liveable and safe communities are sustained by:
- promoting efficient development and land use patterns which sustain the financial well-being of the Province and municipalities over the long term;
- accommodating an appropriate range and mix of residential (including second units, affordable housing and housing for older persons), employment (including industrial and commercial), institutional (including places of worship, cemeteries and long-term care homes), recreation, park and open space, and other uses to meet long-term needs;
- avoiding development and land use patterns which may cause environmental or public health and safety concerns;
- avoiding development and land use patterns that would prevent the efficient expansion of settlement areas in those areas which are adjacent or close to settlement areas;
- promoting cost-effective development patterns and standards to minimize land consumption and servicing costs;
- improving accessibility for persons with disabilities and older persons by identifying, preventing and removing land use barriers which restrict their full participation in society;
- ensuring that necessary infrastructure, electricity generation facilities and transmission and distribution systems, and public service facilities are or will be available to meet current and projected needs; and
- promoting development and land use patterns that conserve biodiversity and consider the impacts of a changing climate.
1.1.2 Sufficient land shall be made available to accommodate an appropriate range and mix of land uses to meet projected needs for a time horizon of up to 20 years. However, where an alternate time period has been established for specific areas of the Province as a result of a provincial planning exercise or a provincial plan, that time frame may be used for municipalities within the area.
Within settlement areas, sufficient land shall be made available through intensification and redevelopment and, if necessary, designated growth areas.
Nothing in policy 1.1.2 limits the planning for infrastructure and public service facilities beyond a 20-year time horizon.
1.1.3 Settlement areas
Settlement areas are urban areas and rural settlement areas, and include cities, towns, villages and hamlets. Ontario’s settlement areas vary significantly in terms of size, density, population, economic activity, diversity and intensity of land uses, service levels, and types of infrastructure available.
The vitality of settlement areas is critical to the long-term economic prosperity of our communities. Development pressures and land use change will vary across Ontario. It is in the interest of all communities to use land and resources wisely, to promote efficient development patterns, protect resources, promote green spaces, ensure effective use of infrastructure and public service facilities and minimize unnecessary public expenditures.
184.108.40.206 Settlement areas shall be the focus of growth and development, and their vitality and regeneration shall be promoted.
220.127.116.11 Land use patterns within settlement areas shall be based on:
- densities and a mix of land uses which:
- efficiently use land and resources;
- are appropriate for, and efficiently use, the infrastructure and public service facilities which are planned or available, and avoid the need for their unjustified and/or uneconomical expansion;
- minimize negative impacts to air quality and climate change, and promote energy efficiency;
- support active transportation;
- are transit-supportive, where transit is planned, exists or may be developed; and
- are freight-supportive; and
- a range of uses and opportunities for intensification and redevelopment in accordance with the criteria in policy 18.104.22.168, where this can be accommodated.
22.214.171.124 Planning authorities shall identify appropriate locations and promote opportunities for intensification and redevelopment where this can be accommodated taking into account existing building stock or areas, including brownfield sites, and the availability of suitable existing or planned infrastructure and public service facilities required to accommodate projected needs.
Intensification and redevelopment shall be directed in accordance with the policies of Section 2: Wise Use and Management of Resources and Section 3: Protecting Public Health and Safety.
126.96.36.199 Appropriate development standards should be promoted which facilitate intensification, redevelopment and compact form, while avoiding or mitigating risks to public health and safety.
188.8.131.52 Planning authorities shall establish and implement minimum targets for intensification and redevelopment within built-up areas, based on local conditions. However, where provincial targets are established through provincial plans, the provincial target shall represent the minimum target for affected areas.
184.108.40.206 New development taking place in designated growth areas should occur adjacent to the existing built-up area and shall have a compact form, mix of uses and densities that allow for the efficient use of land, infrastructure and public service facilities.
220.127.116.11 Planning authorities shall establish and implement phasing policies to ensure:
- that specified targets for intensification and redevelopment are achieved prior to, or concurrent with, new development within designated growth areas; and
- the orderly progression of development within designated growth areas and the timely provision of the infrastructure and public service facilities required to meet current and projected needs.
18.104.22.168 A planning authority may identify a settlement area or allow the expansion of a settlement area boundary only at the time of a comprehensive review and only where it has been demonstrated that:
- sufficient opportunities for growth are not available through intensification, redevelopment and designated growth areas to accommodate the projected needs over the identified planning horizon;
- the infrastructure and public service facilities which are planned or available are suitable for the development over the long term, are financially viable over their life cycle, and protect public health and safety and the natural environment;
- in prime agricultural areas:
- the lands do not comprise specialty crop areas;
- alternative locations have been evaluated, and
- there are no reasonable alternatives which avoid prime agricultural areas; and
- there are no reasonable alternatives on lower priority agricultural lands in prime agricultural areas;
- the new or expanding settlement area is in compliance with the minimum distance separation formulae; and
- impacts from new or expanding settlement areas on agricultural operations which are adjacent or close to the settlement area are mitigated to the extent feasible.
In determining the most appropriate direction for expansions to the boundaries of settlement areas or the identification of a settlement area by a planning authority, a planning authority shall apply the policies of Section 2: Wise Use and Management of Resources and Section 3: Protecting Public Health and Safety.
1.1.4 Rural areas in municipalities
Rural areas are important to the economic success of the Province and our quality of life. Rural areas are a system of lands that may include rural settlement areas, rural lands, prime agricultural areas, natural heritage features and areas, and other resource areas. Rural areas and urban areas are interdependent in terms of markets, resources and amenities. It is important to leverage rural assets and amenities and protect the environment as a foundation for a sustainable economy.
Ontario’s rural areas have diverse population levels, natural resources, geographies and physical characteristics, and economies. Across rural Ontario, local circumstances vary by region. For example, northern Ontario’s natural environment and vast geography offer different opportunities than the predominately agricultural areas of southern regions of the Province.
22.214.171.124 Healthy, integrated and viable rural areas should be supported by:
- building upon rural character, and leveraging rural amenities and assets;
- promoting regeneration, including the redevelopment of brownfield sites;
- accommodating and appropriate range and mix of housing in rural settlement areas;
- encouraging the conservation and redevelopment of existing rural housing stock on rural lands;
- using rural infrastructure and public service facilities efficiently;
- promoting diversification of the economic base and employment opportunities through goods and services, including value-added products and the sustainable management of resources;
- providing opportunities for sustainable and diversified tourism, including leveraging historical, cultural, and natural assets;
- conserving biodiversity and considering the ecological benefits provided by nature; and
- providing opportunities for economic activities in prime agricultural areas, in accordance with policy 2.3.
126.96.36.199 In rural areas, rural settlement areas shall be the focus of growth and development and their vitality and regeneration shall be promoted.
188.8.131.52 When directing development in rural settlement areas in accordance with policy 1.1.3, planning authorities shall give consideration to rural characteristics, the scale of development and the provision of appropriate service levels.
184.108.40.206 Growth and development may be directed to rural lands in accordance with policy 1.1.5, including where a municipality does not have a settlement area.
1.1.5 Rural lands in municipalities
220.127.116.11 When directing development on rural lands, a planning authority shall apply the relevant policies of Section 1: Building Strong Healthy Communities, as well as the policies of Section 2: Wise Use and Management of Resources and Section 3: Protecting Public Health and Safety.
18.104.22.168 On rural lands located in municipalities, permitted uses are:
- the management or use of resources;
- resource-based recreational uses (including recreational dwellings);
- limited residential development;
- home occupations and home industries;
- cemeteries; and
- other rural land uses.
22.214.171.124 Recreational, tourism and other economic opportunities should be promoted.
126.96.36.199 Development that is compatible with the rural landscape and can be sustained by rural service levels should be promoted.
188.8.131.52 Development shall be appropriate to the infrastructure which is planned or available, and avoid the need for the unjustified and/or uneconomical expansion of this infrastructure.
184.108.40.206 Opportunities should be retained to locate new or expanding land uses that require separation from other uses.
220.127.116.11 Opportunities to support a diversified rural economy should be promoted by protecting agricultural and other resource-related uses and directing non-related development to areas where it will minimize constraints on these uses.
18.104.22.168 Agricultural uses, agriculture-related uses, on-farm diversified uses and normal farm practices should be promoted and protected in accordance with provincial standards.
22.214.171.124 New land uses, including the creation of lots, and new or expanding livestock facilities, shall comply with the minimum distance separation formulae.
1.1.6 Territory without municipal organization
126.96.36.199 On rural lands located in territory without municipal organization, the focus of development activity shall be related to the sustainable management or use of resources and resource-based recreational uses (including recreational dwellings).
188.8.131.52 Development shall be appropriate to the infrastructure which is planned or available, and avoid the need for the unjustified and/or uneconomical expansion of this infrastructure.
184.108.40.206 The establishment of new permanent townsites shall not be permitted.
220.127.116.11 In areas adjacent to and surrounding municipalities, only development that is related to the sustainable management or use of resources and resource-based recreational uses (including recreational dwellings) shall be permitted. Other uses may only be permitted if:
- the area forms part of a planning area;
- the necessary infrastructure and public service facilities are planned or available to support the development and are financially viable over their life cycle; and
- it has been determined, as part of a comprehensive review, that the impacts of development will not place an undue strain on the public service facilities and infrastructure provided by adjacent municipalities, regions and/or the Province.
1.2.1 A coordinated, integrated and comprehensive approach should be used when dealing with planning matters within municipalities, across lower, single and/or upper-tier municipal boundaries, and with other orders of government, agencies and boards including:
- managing and/or promoting growth and development;
- economic development strategies;
- managing natural heritage, water, agricultural, mineral, and cultural heritage and archaeological resources;
- infrastructure, electricity generation facilities and transmission and distribution systems, multimodal transportation systems, public service facilities and waste management systems;
- ecosystem, shoreline, watershed, and Great Lakes related issues;
- natural and human-made hazards;
- population, housing and employment projections, based on regional market areas; and
- addressing housing needs in accordance with provincial policy statements such as the Ontario Housing Policy Statement.
1.2.2 Planning authorities are encouraged to coordinate planning matters with Aboriginal communities.
1.2.3 Planning authorities should coordinate emergency management and other economic, environmental and social planning considerations to support efficient and resilient communities.
1.2.4 Where planning is conducted by an upper-tier municipality, the upper-tier municipality in consultation with lower-tier municipalities shall:
- identify, coordinate and allocate population, housing and employment projections for lower-tier municipalities. Allocations and projections by upper-tier municipalities shall be based on and reflect provincial plans where these exist;
- identify areas where growth or development will be directed, including the identification of nodes and the corridors linking these nodes;
- identify targets for intensification and redevelopment within all or any of the lower-tier municipalities, including minimum targets that should be met before expansion of the boundaries of settlement areas is permitted in accordance with policy 18.104.22.168;
- where transit corridors exist or are to be developed, identify density targets for areas adjacent or in proximity to these corridors, including minimum targets that should be met before expansion of the boundaries of settlement areas is permitted in accordance with policy 22.214.171.124; and
- identify and provide policy direction for the lower-tier municipalities on matters that cross municipal boundaries.
1.2.5 Where there is no upper-tier municipality, planning authorities shall ensure that policy 1.2.4 is addressed as part of the planning process, and should coordinate these matters with adjacent planning authorities.
1.2.6 Land use compatibility
126.96.36.199 Major facilities and sensitive land uses should be planned to ensure they are appropriately designed, buffered and/or separated from each other to prevent or mitigate adverse effects from odour, noise and other contaminants, minimize risk to public health and safety, and to ensure the long-term viability of major facilities.
1.3.1 Planning authorities shall promote economic development and competitiveness by:
- providing for an appropriate mix and range of employment and institutional uses to meet long-term needs;
- providing opportunities for a diversified economic base, including maintaining a range and choice of suitable sites for employment uses which support a wide range of economic activities and ancillary uses, and take into account the needs of existing and future businesses;
- encouraging compact, mixed-use development that incorporates compatible employment uses to support liveable and resilient communities; and
- ensuring the necessary infrastructure is provided to support current and projected needs.
1.3.2 Employment areas
188.8.131.52 Planning authorities shall plan for, protect and preserve employment areas for current and future uses and ensure that the necessary infrastructure is provided to support current and projected needs.
184.108.40.206 Planning authorities may permit conversion of lands within employment areas to non-employment uses through a comprehensive review, only where it has been demonstrated that the land is not required for employment purposes over the long term and that there is a need for the conversion.
220.127.116.11 Planning authorities shall protect employment areas in proximity to major goods movement facilities and corridors for employment uses that require those locations.
18.104.22.168 Planning authorities may plan beyond 20 years for the long-term protection of employment areas provided lands are not designated beyond the planning horizon identified in policy 1.1.2.
1.4.1 To provide for an appropriate range and mix of housing types and densities required to meet projected requirements of current and future residents of the regional market area, planning authorities shall:
- maintain at all times the ability to accommodate residential growth for a minimum of 10 years through residential intensification and redevelopment and, if necessary, lands which are designated and available for residential development; and
- maintain at all times where new development is to occur, land with servicing capacity sufficient to provide at least a three-year supply of residential units available through lands suitably zoned to facilitate residential intensification and redevelopment, and land in draft approved and registered plans.
1.4.2 Where planning is conducted by an upper-tier municipality:
- the land and unit supply maintained by the lower-tier municipality identified in policy 1.4.1 shall be based on and reflect the allocation of population and units by the upper-tier municipality; and
- the allocation of population and units by the upper-tier municipality shall be based on and reflect provincial plans where these exist.
1.4.3 Planning authorities shall provide for an appropriate range and mix of housing types and densities to meet projected requirements of current and future residents of the regional market area by:
- establishing and implementing minimum targets for the provision of housing which is affordable to low and moderate income households. However, where planning is conducted by an upper-tier municipality, the upper-tier municipality in consultation with the lower-tier municipalities may identify a higher target(s) which shall represent the minimum target(s) for these lower-tier municipalities;
- permitting and facilitating:
- all forms of housing required to meet the social, health and well-being requirements of current and future residents, including special needs requirements; and
- all forms of residential intensification, including second units, and redevelopment in accordance with policy 22.214.171.124;
- directing the development of new housing towards locations where appropriate levels of infrastructure and public service facilities are or will be available to support current and projected needs;
- promoting densities for new housing which efficiently use land, resources, infrastructure and public service facilities, and support the use of active transportation and transit in areas where it exists or is to be developed; and
- establishing development standards for residential intensification, redevelopment and new residential development which minimize the cost of housing and facilitate compact form, while maintaining appropriate levels of public health and safety.
1.5 Public spaces, recreation, parks, trails and open space
1.5.1 Healthy, active communities should be promoted by:
- planning public streets, spaces and facilities to be safe, meet the needs of pedestrians, foster social interaction and facilitate active transportation and community connectivity;
- planning and providing for a full range and equitable distribution of publicly-accessible built and natural settings for recreation, including facilities, parklands, public spaces, open space areas, trails and linkages, and, where practical, water-based resources;
- providing opportunities for public access to shorelines; and
- recognizing provincial parks, conservation reserves, and other protected areas, and minimizing negative impacts on these areas.
1.6 Infrastructure and public service facilities
1.6.1 Infrastructure, electricity generation facilities and transmission and distribution systems, and public service facilities shall be provided in a coordinated, efficient and cost-effective manner that considers impacts from climate change while accommodating projected needs.
Planning for infrastructure, electricity generation facilities and transmission and distribution systems, and public service facilities shall be coordinated and integrated with land use planning so that they are:
- financially viable over their life cycle, which may be demonstrated through asset management planning; and
- available to meet current and projected needs.
1.6.2 Planning authorities should promote green infrastructure to complement infrastructure.
1.6.3 Before consideration is given to developing new infrastructure and public service facilities:
- the use of existing infrastructure and public service facilities should be optimized; and
- opportunities for adaptive re-use should be considered, wherever feasible.
1.6.4 Infrastructure and public service facilities should be strategically located to support the effective and efficient delivery of emergency management services.
1.6.5 Public service facilities should be co-located in community hubs, where appropriate, to promote cost-effectiveness and facilitate service integration, access to transit and active transportation.
1.6.6 Sewage, water and stormwater
126.96.36.199 Planning for sewage and water services shall:
- direct and accommodate expected growth or development in a manner that promotes the efficient use and optimization of existing:
- municipal sewage services and municipal water services; and
- private communal sewage services and private communal water services, where municipal sewage services and municipal water services are not available;
- ensure that these systems are provided in a manner that:
- can be sustained by the water resources upon which such services rely;
- is feasible, financially viable and complies with all regulatory requirements; and
- protects human health and the natural environment;
- promote water conservation and water use efficiency;
- integrate servicing and land use considerations at all stages of the planning process; and
- be in accordance with the servicing hierarchy outlined through policies 188.8.131.52, 184.108.40.206, 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168.
22.214.171.124 Municipal sewage services and municipal water services are the preferred form of servicing for settlement areas. Intensification and redevelopment within settlement areas on existing municipal sewage services and municipal water services should be promoted, wherever feasible.
126.96.36.199 Where municipal sewage services and municipal water services are not provided, municipalities may allow the use of private communal sewage services and private communal water services.
188.8.131.52 Where municipal sewage services and municipal water services or private communal sewage services and private communal water services are not provided, individual on-site sewage services and individual on-site water services may be used provided that site conditions are suitable for the long-term provision of such services with no negative impacts. In settlement areas, these services may only be used for infilling and minor rounding out of existing development.
184.108.40.206 Partial services shall only be permitted in the following circumstances:
- where they are necessary to address failed individual on-site sewage services and individual on-site water services in existing development; or
- within settlement areas, to allow for infilling and minor rounding out of existing development on partial services provided that site conditions are suitable for the long-term provision of such services with no negative impacts.
220.127.116.11 Subject to the hierarchy of services provided in policies 18.104.22.168, 22.214.171.124, 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52 planning authorities may allow lot creation only if there is confirmation of sufficient reserve sewage system capacity and reserve water system capacity within municipal sewage services and municipal water services or private communal sewage services and private communal water services. The determination of sufficient reserve sewage system capacity shall include treatment capacity for hauled sewage from private communal sewage services and individual on-site sewage services.
184.108.40.206 Planning for stormwater management shall:
- minimize, or, where possible, prevent increases in contaminant loads;
- minimize changes in water balance and erosion;
- not increase risks to human health and safety and property damage;
- maximize the extent and function of vegetative and pervious surfaces; and
- promote stormwater management best practices, including stormwater attenuation and re-use, and low impact development.
1.6.7 Transportation systems
220.127.116.11 Transportation systems should be provided which are safe, energy efficient, facilitate the movement of people and goods, and are appropriate to address projected needs.
18.104.22.168 Efficient use shall be made of existing and planned infrastructure, including through the use of transportation demand management strategies, where feasible.
22.214.171.124 As part of a multimodal transportation system, connectivity within and among transportation systems and modes should be maintained and, where possible, improved including connections which cross jurisdictional boundaries.
126.96.36.199 A land use pattern, density and mix of uses should be promoted that minimize the length and number of vehicle trips and support current and future use of transit and active transportation.
188.8.131.52 Transportation and land use considerations shall be integrated at all stages of the planning process.
1.6.8 Transportation and infrastructure corridors
184.108.40.206 Planning authorities shall plan for and protect corridors and rights-of-way for infrastructure, including transportation, transit and electricity generation facilities and transmission systems to meet current and projected needs.
220.127.116.11 Major goods movement facilities and corridors shall be protected for the long term.
18.104.22.168 Planning authorities shall not permit development in planned corridors that could preclude or negatively affect the use of the corridor for the purpose(s) for which it was identified.
New development proposed on adjacent lands to existing or planned corridors and transportation facilities should be compatible with, and supportive of, the long-term purposes of the corridor and should be designed to avoid, mitigate or minimize negative impacts on and from the corridor and transportation facilities.
22.214.171.124 The preservation and reuse of abandoned corridors for purposes that maintain the corridor’s integrity and continuous linear characteristics should be encouraged, wherever feasible.
126.96.36.199 When planning for corridors and rights-of-way for significant transportation, electricity transmission, and infrastructure facilities, consideration will be given to the significant resources in Section 2: Wise Use and Management of Resources.
1.6.9 Airports, rail and marine facilities
188.8.131.52 Planning for land uses in the vicinity of airports, rail facilities and marine facilities shall be undertaken so that:
- their long-term operation and economic role is protected; and
- airports, rail facilities and marine facilities and sensitive land uses are appropriately designed, buffered and/or separated from each other, in accordance with policy 1.2.6.
184.108.40.206 Airports shall be protected from incompatible land uses and development by:
- prohibiting new residential development and other sensitive land uses in areas near airports above 30 NEF/NEP;
- considering redevelopment of existing residential uses and other sensitive land uses or infilling of residential and other sensitive land uses in areas above 30 NEF/NEP only if it has been demonstrated that there will be no negative impacts on the long-term function of the airport; and
- discouraging land uses which may cause a potential aviation safety hazard.
1.6.10 Waste management
220.127.116.11 Waste management systems need to be provided that are of an appropriate size and type to accommodate present and future requirements, and facilitate, encourage and promote reduction, reuse and recycling objectives. Planning authorities should consider the implications of development and land use patterns on waste generation, management and diversion.
Waste management systems shall be located and designed in accordance with provincial legislation and standards.
1.6.11 Energy supply
18.104.22.168 Planning authorities should provide opportunities for the development of energy supply including electricity generation facilities and transmission and distribution systems, to accommodate current and projected needs.
22.214.171.124 Planning authorities should promote renewable energy systems and alternative energy systems, where feasible, in accordance with provincial and federal requirements.
1.7 Long-term economic prosperity
1.7.1 Long-term economic prosperity should be supported by:
- promoting opportunities for economic development and community investment-readiness;
- optimizing the long-term availability and use of land, resources, infrastructure, electricity generation facilities and transmission and distribution systems, and public service facilities;
- maintaining and, where possible, enhancing the vitality and viability of downtowns and mainstreets;
- encouraging a sense of place, by promoting well-designed built form and cultural planning, and by conserving features that help define character, including built heritage resources and cultural heritage landscapes;
- promoting the redevelopment of brownfield sites;
- providing for an efficient, cost-effective, reliable multimodal transportation system that is integrated with adjacent systems and those of other jurisdictions, and is appropriate to address projected needs to support the movement of goods and people;
- providing opportunities for sustainable tourism development;
- providing opportunities to support local food, and promoting the sustainability of agri-food and agri-product businesses by protecting agricultural resources, and minimizing land use conflicts;
- promoting energy conservation and providing opportunities for development of renewable energy systems and alternative energy systems, including district energy;
- minimizing negative impacts from a changing climate and considering the ecological benefits provided by nature; and
- encouraging efficient and coordinated communications and telecommunications infrastructure.
1.8 Energy conservation, air quality and climate change
1.8.1 Planning authorities shall support energy conservation and efficiency, improved air quality, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change adaptation through land use and development patterns which:
- promote compact form and a structure of nodes and corridors;
- promote the use of active transportation and transit in and between residential, employment (including commercial and industrial) and institutional uses and other areas;
- focus major employment, commercial and other travel-intensive land uses on sites which are well served by transit where this exists or is to be developed, or designing these to facilitate the establishment of transit in the future;
- focus freight-intensive land uses to areas well served by major highways, airports, rail facilities and marine facilities;
- improve the mix of employment and housing uses to shorten commute journeys and decrease transportation congestion;
- promote design and orientation which:
- maximizes energy efficiency and conservation, and considers the mitigating effects of vegetation; and
- maximizes opportunities for the use of renewable energy systems and alternative energy systems; and
- maximize vegetation within settlement areas, where feasible.