Summary of the Land Needs Assessment Methodology for the Greater Golden Horseshoe

May 2018

The Minister of Municipal Affairs has issued the Land Needs Assessment Methodology for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

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Ministry of Municipal Affairs
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The Greater Golden Horseshoe is one of the fastest growing regions in North America. The Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2017 (the Growth Plan) was put in place to help manage this growth.

A core goal of the Growth Plan is achieving complete communities, which support opportunities for people of all ages and abilities by offering a diverse range of housing and access to jobs, services and transportation choices. To help achieve this goal, the Growth Plan includes policies aimed at increasing the density of residents and jobs to make efficient use of land and infrastructure, and support the viability of transit. To guide how and where to grow, the Growth Plan sets minimum intensification targets for existing urban areas and density targets for parts of municipalities such as major transit station areas and new suburbs.

The Growth Plan requires that municipalities use a common provincial methodology for calculating the amount of land that they will need for future development. This calculation is known as a land needs assessment. This methodology will help ensure that municipalities use land efficiently and meet provincial forecasts and targets set out in the Growth Plan. If the land needs assessment shows that more land is needed, municipalities will then determine where that growth should go.

Why a standard methodology?

In the past, approaches to determining how much new land is needed, and how municipalities report that approach to the public has varied across the region. During consultation on plan amendments, the ministry heard that municipalities and other stakeholders wanted the province to create a standard methodology that could ensure consistency across the region.

A proposed methodology was developed and issued for public input in December 2017. All feedback received was considered, modifications were made, and the Minister issued a final land needs assessment methodology in May 2018.

The impact of land needs assessment

The land needs assessment is used to determine the amount of land needed to accommodate future residential and job growth. It will inform decisions about whether to expand the boundary of urban areas (settlement area boundary expansion), or whether sufficient or excess land has already been designated. The geographic location of any new land needed for development is not part of the land needs assessment. Rather, it is determined by municipalities during a later stage of the municipal comprehensive review process.

Land needs are assessed primarily based on two different areas:

Community areas are areas that consist of the vast majority of housing required to accommodate the forecasted population, as well as a substantial portion of the forecasted jobs. Many jobs are also included in these areas such as office, retail and other related jobs, however, these areas do not include designated employment areas.

Employment areas are areas designated in an official plan for clusters of business and economic activity including manufacturing, warehousing, offices, and associated retail and ancillary facilities. These are areas that have no housing and where most industrial buildings are located. These areas could also include some limited retail and other jobs that provide services to people working in, or are related to the work occurring in the employment area.

What will be different?

The new Land Needs Assessment Methodology factors in new policies from the updated Growth Plan, and sets a comprehensive and consistent approach that all municipalities across the Greater Golden Horseshoe will use. The new process will be clearer and more transparent. Stakeholders and the public will be able to better understand how their municipality has determined how much land it needs to grow, if at all, to accommodate population and employment growth in the future.

Find more information about the Growth Plan, or read the full methodology on

Where a word is italicized, the intended definition of the word or phrase may be found in Chapter 7: Definitions in the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2017

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