Technical Backgrounder: Built Boundary for the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006

Built Boundary for the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006

Technical Backgrounder




On June 16, 2006, the Government of Ontario released the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006. It was prepared under the Places to Grow Act, 2005, as part of the Places to Grow initiative to plan for healthy and prosperous growth throughout Ontario.

The Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe aims to:

  • Revitalize downtowns to become vibrant and convenient centres;
  • Create complete communities that offer more options for living, working, shopping and playing;
  • Provide greater choice in housing types to meet the needs of people at all stages of life;
  • Curb sprawl and protect farmland and green spaces; and
  • Reduce traffic gridlock by improving access to a greater range of transportation choices.

Growth Plan Policies for Intensification

Hypothetical site in a mid-sized downtown before intensification. The image shows vacant land and no pedestrian amenities or landscaping.

Hypothetical mid-size downtown - Before

Hypothetical site in a mid-sized downtown after intensification. Compared to Figure 2a, the image shows low- and mid-rise infill development, pedestrian amenities and landscaping.

Hypothetical mid-size downtown - After


The Growth Plan requires municipalities to accommodate a significant portion of future growth through intensification to create more compact, vibrant and complete communities.

Intensification is the development of a property, site or area within existing built-up areas at a higher density than currently exists. Well-planned, attractive intensification projects provide a number of benefits for our communities, such as:

  • revitalizing neighbourhoods and downtowns;
  • making more efficient use of infrastructure;
  • supporting more frequent transit service;
  • reducing development pressures on valuable agricultural lands and important natural areas; and
  • providing a wider range of housing closer to shops and schools.

The Growth Plan provides a suite of policies to better manage urban development and redevelopment in our existing built-up areas. In addition, the Growth Plan establishes an intensification target, which specifies that by 2015 and each year thereafter, a minimum of 40 per cent of new residential development will occur within the built-up areas of each upper- or single-tier municipality.

The Built Boundary and the Growth Plan

In order to be able to implement and monitor the intensification target and other policies in the Growth Plan, on April 2, 2008, the Minister of Public Infrastructure Renewal issued the built boundary for the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006. The built boundary identifies the built-up areas in the Greater Golden Horseshoe and is an important tool for monitoring the intensification target and other Growth Plan policies.

Built-up areas are defined as lands within the built boundary. They are those parts of a community's settlement area that are already developed. Since a municipality may contain one or more settlement areas, the built boundary for a municipality may be made up of one or more built-up areas.

The built boundary is not a land-use designation and the delineation of the built boundary will not confer any new land-use designations, nor alter existing land-use designations. Any development on lands within the built boundary is still subject to the relevant provincial and municipal land-use planning policies and approval processes.

The inclusion of lands within the built boundary does not necessarily mean that these lands will be developed or built upon. For example, the inclusion of a municipal park that is in its final form and within the built-up area does not imply that it will be redeveloped. Similarly, existing established neighbourhoods within the built-up area might not be a focus for intensification.

Terminology Relevant to the Built Boundary

Illustration of Growth Plan land-use terminology regarding the built boundary. The built boundary is the extent of the built-up area, and is defined by a technical paper called Built Boundary for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006. The settlement area boundary is defined by the respective approved municipal official plan. Lands that lie outside the built boundary but that are within the settlement area are subject to the Growth Plans designated greenfield area policies.

Developing the Built Boundary

Between 2005 and 2007, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal reviewed existing methodologies and available data sources, and developed an innovative methodology to verify and delineate the built boundary for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

In November 2006, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal released the Technical Paper on a Proposed Methodology for Developing a Built Boundary for the Greater Golden Horseshoe which described four proposed steps to delineate the built boundary. The Ministry received numerous submissions and comments on the proposed methodology. Based on the input received, the methodology was finalized.

In late 2006, a preliminary draft built boundary was derived using data from the Ontario Parcel Alliance (OPA), the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) and datasets maintained by Land Information Ontario. The Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal verified this preliminary draft version of the built boundary, the underlying data and assumptions with all municipalities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe in the winter and spring of 2007.

In November 2007, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal released a technical paper titled Proposed Final Built Boundary for the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006 which contained the final methodology and maps of the proposed final built boundary. Suggested refinements to the mapping proposed by municipalities and stakeholders were reviewed in accordance with the final methodology to finalize the built boundary.

Get Involved

The built boundary for each single and upper-tier municipality and the final methodology utilized to delineate the built boundary is available in the paper entitled Built Boundary for the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006, which is available on the Places to Grow website at www.placestogrow.ca. The built boundary is also available in geographic information system (GIS) format from the Ministry upon request.

For more information on the built boundary or the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, please visit the Places to Grow website at www.placestogrow.ca or call our toll-free line at 1-866-479-9781. You can also write to us at:

The Ontario Growth Secretariat
Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal
777 Bay Street, 4th Floor, Suite 425
Toronto, ON, M5G 2E5
Canada

Fax: 416-325-7403
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

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