Friday, July 11, 2008

Milton Draws its 'Line in the Sand' with Region

From today's Milton Champion:

Town setting growth 'rules' with Region

The Town is laying out ground rules that it wants the Region to follow when it comes to local residential growth beyond 2021.

The proposed list of growth principles prepared by Town staff went before town council at an information workshop held Monday afternoon.

The item comes in response to the Region's Sustainable Halton plan, which is being developed to steer future growth while preserving and protecting things like greenspace and farmland.

As part of the process, Region staff has come up with five concepts that show how about 2,400 hectares of 'greenfields,' or undeveloped land, in Milton and Halton Hills could accommodate 120,000 people and the needed community infrastructure between 2021 and 2031.

(...) In response to the concepts, [Town] staff developed a list that tells the Region the Town will accept residential growth beyond 2021 only on the basis of the following principles, including:

- Balanced residential and employment growth based upon a minimum .5 employee-to-resident ratio

- Increased financial support from the Region relating to capital projects, with transportation/transit and water/wastewater systems as a priority

- Encouraged financial assistance from the Province for hospitals, schools and transit, including things like legislative changes to development charges

- Continued and respected input into the Region's evaluation of the proposed growth concepts, all the while respecting Milton's Strategic Plan goals and objectives

- That the cost of providing lake-based servicing to Halton Hills be borne by Halton Hills' landowners/developers, and that Halton Hills development doesn't impede Milton's ability to manage its growth

What I find most interesting about this list of "principles" is that every one of them is about money.

The sad thing is, the 'Sustainable Halton' plan is actually very good. Although it takes as a given that the population and urban area of Milton will expand significantly (which it already has), and although the suggested population density for new residential developments is shockingly low (50 people + jobs/hectare), it does take into account things like continuity and preservation of as much agricultural land as possible, recognition of the special needs of the greenhouse/market garden areas along Eighth Line, the integration of rail, transit and automobile transportation corridors and hubs, etc.

That's the big picture. The smaller picture - the actual implementation of this plan on a local level in terms of individual housing, retail and industrial developments, is the purview of the Town of Milton. But instead of going with the spirit and intent of the Region's plan and exploring innovative ways of creating sustainable new urban spaces (such as New Urbanist concepts, or, say, this development in Ottawa), the Town long ago chose to simply hand over the design of housing and retail developments to private corporations whose only purpose is to maximize profit per hectare.

The result, which may or may not adhere to the overall land use recommendations of 'Sustainable Halton', nevertheless makes 'New Milton' look like exactly the same barren wasteland of ticky-tacky houses and big box stores covering Brampton and Peel when viewed from street level.


Boris said...

I'm originally from Ontario and take the 401 through the Milton area a couple times a year when I'm visiting family. It really makes me ill to see the big box/warehouse/mfg/subdivision sprawl covering what was some of the most beautiful and agriculturally productive geography in the country.

Good posts on here Jennifer.

Boris said...

Oh, you might be into this blog: