Growth strategy calls for fewer detached homes
October 01, 2008
Our future includes better transit, fewer detached homes and a countryside line to restrain urban growth.
So says the latest official plan for the region, proposed yesterday by regional council. The growth blueprint, three years in the making, will guide land use until 2029, with periodic reviews. That's when the population is forecast to reach 712,000, up from 516,000 today.
The plan enshrines provincial legislation requiring this region to become more compact.
All growth in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and four townships must conform.
Homebuilders warn this will increase house prices, denying some families the detached home they want. They fear this may make the region less desirable to employers, damaging economic vitality.
"It's going to have a significant impact on the cost of housing," said Eric Kraushaar, president of the Waterloo Region Homebuilders' Association.
The new plan says:
After 2015, 40 per cent of new homes must settle in areas already built.
"This is quite a challenge," said Kevin Eby, regional director of community planning. By comparison, in 2006, 29 per cent of new homes settled in built-up areas.
New neighbourhoods must have a mix of homes, jobs and shopping, be more compact and better designed to support transit.
It's expected this will mean fewer single-detached homes.
A countryside line drawn around cities and villages will restrain urban growth.
Groundwater and environmental lands will have stronger protections.
New regulations will govern the location of industrial lands and major commercial centres.
Rapid transit will be built and transit-friendly policies established for growth and parking.
"I think we'll see a lot of people embrace the kind of planning that's going on," Regional Chair Ken Seiling said. Developers may press for more land, but provincial law won't make it available, he said.
The growth blueprint heads to public open houses and other reviews this fall. Council plans to finalize the plan next June, after considering public input.
This region is the first to enshrine legislation against urban sprawl in its growth plan. "We're a bit of a guinea pig," planner Kevin Curtis said.