The Centre for Urban Research & Land Development out of Ryerson University has released another interesting report; this one’s about the effectiveness of Ontario’s Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe from an employment growth perspective.
The Growth Plan passed in 2006 and was updated in 2017. Part of its objective is to create complete communities, which are places where people can live, work, shop, and play – all without the need for a car.
A key aspect of a complete community is employment. If you can’t work in the community where you reside, and you need to commute by car, then there’s a chance you’re not living in a complete community.
CUR used employment growth data from 2006 to 2016, an entire decade, to chart the potential that each municipality has to create complete communities, and it doesn’t look good. It’s clear that employment growth in this 10-year period does not align with the goals of the Growth Plan.
The areas with the highest potential to build complete communities are Toronto, Wellington (including Guelph), Halton, and Peel. The areas facing the most challenges are Hamilton, Waterloo, Niagara, and Durham. Everywhere else from Haldimand and Brant to Peterborough and Northumberland are all facing challenges building complete communities from an employment growth perspective.
Unsurprisingly, Toronto is the only area that is overachieving with regards to employment growth, increasing 31.5% from 2006 to 2016, far exceeding the forecast of 15.8% growth. Toronto has always been the economic driver of Ontario, so high employment here is expected.
“Toronto retained its primacy as the economic engine and employment hub of the GGH, greatly overachieving in terms of job creation,” says the report. “Agglomeration economies – that promote the concentration of businesses in the City’s large employment hubs—and the large, educated labour force living in downtown condos have contributed to Toronto’s strength. This provides a tremendous opportunity to implement complete communities objectives locally, but comes at the expense of other municipalities’ capacity to do the same.”
To put things in perspective, Wellington has the second most potential to create complete communities, and its employment growth was 3.1% during the 10-year period, exceeding the 2% forecast. Wellington has a healthy manufacturing and education workforce, and also attracts agri-food and environmental technology companies.
“Its (Wellington’s) performance was not just exceptional for the Outer Ring, but led most of the GGH in most measures,” the report explains. “This certainly bodes well for Wellington’s opportunity to implement complete communities and may provide a strategic model for Outer Ring municipalities that otherwise struggled over the decade.”
Based on CUR’s findings, it seems necessary for the province to revisit the Growth Plan to see how it can better guide the creation of truly complete communities where employment growth is stable and healthy.