Nature as a Cornerstone of Growth: Regional and Ecosystems Planning in the Greater Golden Horseshoe

By Wekerle, Gerda R.; Sandberg, L. Anders et al. | Canadian Journal of Urban Research, Summer 2007 | Go to article overview

Nature as a Cornerstone of Growth: Regional and Ecosystems Planning in the Greater Golden Horseshoe


Wekerle, Gerda R., Sandberg, L. Anders, Gilbert, Liette, Binstock, Matthew, Canadian Journal of Urban Research


Abstract

The Province of Ontario has been successful in passing legislation for a regional growth management plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe in southern Ontario by bundling together two seemingly contradictory notions: growth management and environmental conservation. Over a period of about thirty years, the environment has moved from background to foreground in regional planning. Yet the green and region-wide growth planning legislation contains provisions for infrastructure expansion and resource extraction that fuel growth, compromise the protection of ecosystems and agricultural lands, and institutionalize a competitive regional economic agenda. This illustrates the ways in which different, and often contradictory, traditions and value positions can be harnessed in legislation and policy implementation. In this case study, we show how nature can provide a cornerstone, lubricant or new state space for centralized integrative regional planning, and how this complex may operate in contradictory and self-defeating ways to cause continued harm to the non-human environment.

Key words: Toronto, Greater Golden Horseshoe, Oak Ridges Moraine Plan, Greenbelt Plan, regional planning, nature, ecosystems planning, growth, regional governance.

Resume

La province de l'Ontario a recemment vote une serie de lois portant sur la gestion regionale de la croissance pour la region du Golden Horseshoe dans le sud de l'Ontario en combinant deux notions apparemment contradictoires--croissance et protection environnementale. Depuis une trentaine d'annees, l'environnement qui etait jadis relegue a l'arriere plan de la planification regionale est passe au premier plan. Toutefois, le contexte legislatif de planification et de croissance verte et regionale contient des provisions pour le developpement d'inffastructure et pour l'extraction de resources alimentant la croissance, compromettant la protection des ecosystemes et des terres agricoles, et instituant un agenda competitif de developpement regional economique. Cet article illustre les facons differentes, mais souvent contradictoires, par lesquelles traditions et positions de valeur peuvent etre exploitees par les lois et politiques d'implementation. Dans cette etude de cas, nous examinons comment la nature devient un fondement ou pierre angulaire, lubrifiant ou nouvel espace-etat pour une planification regionale integree et centralisee, et comment ce complexe opere de facons contradictoires et trompeuses causant un mal continu a l'environnement non--humain.

Mots cles: Toronto, region du Golden Horseshoe, Plan Oak Ridges Moraine, Plan de ceinture verte, planification regionale, nature, planification ecosystemique, croissance, gouvernance regionale.

**********

   The Greenbelt is a cornerstone of Ontario's proposed Greater Golden
   Horseshoe Growth Plan which is an overarching strategy that will
   provide clarity and certainty about urban structure, where and how
   future growth should be accommodated, and what must be protected
   for current and future generations (Ontario Ministry of Municipal
   Affairs and Housing, 2005a, p. 1).

In the last three years, the Province of Ontario has been successful in passing legislation for a regional growth management plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH), a region of over 3 million hectares with a population of 7.5 million in southern Ontario. It had not managed to achieve this in the past thirty years, and it has been accomplished by combining two seemingly contradictory notions--growth management and environmental conservation. Three prominent plans passed by the Province in the early 21st century, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, Greenbelt Plan and Places to Grow/Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (referred to herein as the Places to Grow Plan), focus on preserving nature and countryside, promoting intensification, and designating growth centres. …

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