By Graham Haines
A new paper by the Ryerson City Building Institute examines how municipalities can accommodate the region’s population without relying on excessive sprawl or building too tall. Getting Intense: Rethinking Planning for an “Intensification First” Approach shows that there is significant land within our municipalities with huge potential to add housing through redevelopment at modest densities.
“Taking advantage of these opportunities would allow us to easily exceed the goals of the Growth Plan and provide an abundance of opportunities to build new family friendly housing,” says Bria Aird, graduate student and Research Assistant with the Ryerson City Building Institute.
“With land protection and intensification becoming key goals of municipalities across Canada, we need to rethink how we approach growth planning,” says Graham Haines, Research Manager of the Ryerson City Building Institute. “Our key planning tools such as zoning by-laws are often reactive and restrictive and run counter to the goal of intensification. This needs to change if we intend to better protect land, embrace intensification, and build affordable family-friendly housing.”
The study models Mississauga as an example and finds that the municipality could accommodate over 160,000 new homes through low to medium density or “missing middle” intensification within transit corridors, GO station areas, and growth nodes.
“We can improve housing affordability by building homes for families close to employment, transit, and neighbourhood services by focusing on developable land within the urban footprint,” adds Haines.
To illustrate this point, the study demonstrates that most of Peel Region’s projected population growth could be accommodated through medium density intensification in Mississauga. Capitalizing on all intensification opportunities across Peel could significantly reduce the pressure of sprawl on agricultural lands.
Download the paper here