The Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is responsible for much of the land use planning decisions in the province. It’s stated goal is:
an Ontario made up of safe and strong urban and rural communities with dynamic local economies, abundant greenspace and a quality of life that is second to none.
That’s a pretty good goal.
On their website you can access the Citizen’s Guide to Land-Use Planning, which goes into greater detail about the laws, administration and process of planning. You can also access the Provincial Policy Statement 2005.
The Provincial Policy Statement (PPS), as the name would suggest, sets out the province’s land use planning policy. It contains a planning vision for the province and sets out specific policies and implementation plans.
Section 1.0 deals with ‘Building Strong Communities’ and says:
Ontario’s long-term prosperity, environmental health and social well-being depend on wisely managing change and promoting efficient land use and development patterns. Efficient land use and development patterns support strong, liveable and healthy communities, protect the environment and public health and safety, and facilitate economic growth.
What I’m going to do, instead of editorializing about it, is provide relevant extracts of the PPS below.
Healthy, liveable and safe communities are sustained by:
g) ensuring that necessary infrastructure and public service facilities are or will be available to meet current and projected needs.
Section 1.6.5 Transportation Systems
184.108.40.206 Transportation systems should be provided which are safe, energy efficient, facilitate the movement of people and goods, and are appropriate to address projected needs.
220.127.116.11 Efficient use shall be made of existing and planned infrastructure.
18.104.22.168 Connectivity within and among transportation systems and modes should be maintained and, where possible, improved including connections which cross jurisdictional boundaries.
22.214.171.124 A land use pattern, density and mix of uses should be promoted that minimize the length and number of vehicle trips and support the development of viable choices and plans for public transit and other alternative transportation modes, including commuter rail and bus.
126.96.36.199 Transportation and land use considerations shall be integrated at all stages of the planning process.
Section 1.7 Long-Term Economic Prosperity
1.7.1 Long-term economic prosperity should be supported by:
d) providing for an efficient, cost-effective, reliable multi-modal transportation system that is integrated with adjacent systems and those of other jurisdictions, and is appropriate to address projected needs;
Section 1.8 Energy and Air Quality
1.8.1 Planning authorities shall support energy efficiency and improved air quality through land use and development patterns which:
b) promote the use of public transit and other alternative transportation modes in and between residential, employment (including commercial, industrial and institutional uses) and other areas where these exist or are to be developed;
Section 4.0 Implementation and Interpretation
4.2 In accordance with Section 3 of the Planning Act, as amended by the Strong Communities (Planning Amendment) Act, 2004, a decision of the council of a municipality, a local board, a planning board, a minister of the Crown and a ministry, board, commission or agency of the government, including the Municipal Board, in respect of the exercise of any authority that affects a planning matter, “shall be consistent with” this Provincial Policy Statement.
And some relevant definitions of terms used throughout the PPS, which actually mention cycling!
Infrastructure: means physical structures (facilities and corridors) that form the foundation for development. Infrastructure includes: sewage and water systems, septage treatment systems, waste management systems, electric power generation and transmission, communications/telecommunications, transit and transportation corridors and facilities, oil and gas pipelines and associated facilities.
Multi-modal transportation system: means a transportation system which may include several forms of transportation such as automobiles, walking, trucks, cycling, buses, rapid transit, rail (such as commuter and freight), air and marine.
Transportation systems: means a system consisting of corridors and rights-of way for the movement of people and goods, and associated transportation facilities including transit stops and stations, cycle lanes, bus lanes, high occupancy vehicle lanes, rail facilities, park’n’ride lots, service centres, rest stops, vehicle inspection stations, intermodal terminals, harbours, and associated facilities such as storage and maintenance.
As you can see, the PPS shows that transportation methods such as cycling are linked to a variety of planning concerns ranging from efficient and effective use of land, to issues of accessibility, economic prosperity, and air quality. Like the Planning Act, the PPS sets out the parameters of provincial public policy on land use planning issues and in some cases even specifies that cycling and cycling infrastructure are integral to fulfilling the PPS and achieving sustainable planning.
Moreover, it’s important to keep in mind that decisions and by-laws of a municipality must be consistent with the PPS, and this may open up arguments for the improvement of cycling infrastructure in Toronto.