Sustainable development allows the community to fulfill their needs without compromising this ability in the future. The ability to accomplish sustainable development in an urban community is crucial in ensuring the community’s future. According to the Pembina Institute (n.d.), it is important for community to become more “self sustaining by giving them the means to invest in their own infrastructure and growth” (p. 18). In order to continuously provide for the growing population in Newmarket, it is crucial that the community devise a plan in order to meet the needs of the current and future population.
Growth & Greenbelt Plan
In order to address how Newmarket can achieve sustainable development, the growth plan, official plan and greenbelt plan will be examined. These plans will help community leaders determine how to move forward with growth in the community.
The growth plan provides a framework for establishing stronger, prosperous communities by managing growth in the region. The plan takes into account the realities facing urban centers and acknowledges that government efforts have a limit. It provides a framework through which suburbs, towns, villages and cities will grow in the long-term. This plan focuses on the growth of manufacturing industries, wealth generation through service and knowledge industries, developing a highly educated work force, abundant natural heritage features and cultural amenities (Ministry of Infrastructure, 2006).
The Official Plan of Newmarket devises a plan based on growth projections in the community. This plan designates four areas as “centers” that act as focal areas for population growth and employment. The plan seeks to achieve an appropriate jobs-to-population ratio by utilizing land within the municipal boundaries and beyond to support employment growth. The official plan consists of several parts, which include: The basis, building a strong community, urban systems, and implementation (Winfield, 2006). The Official Plan plays a major role of determining the basic patterns of land use in the entire municipality through a twenty-year vision of the desired urban structure. It guides the planning and coordination of infrastructure requirements and land use to ensure that the town can accommodate and withstand the anticipated growth. The plan is geared towards the establishment of the Town’s priorities for staff energies and financial resources. It also provides a framework for private investment though land use policies that aid in achieving the town’s vision (Meridian Planning Consultants, 2006).
The Official Plan is based on the need to enhance and maintain the quality of life by managing growth and change within the developed areas. As the years advance, there will be increasing pressure for intensification of existing growth projects, redevelopment and infill. This trend is characteristic of communities have reached a physical limit to their growth in the face of a strong economy and high demand for housing.
The plan gives general objectives and direction for the Town’s land uses and other economic activities. It focuses on the management of change in a way that perpetuates the current lifestyle enjoyed by the town’s residents. The main goals of the plan are consistent with the community strategic plan and respond to the anticipated social, economic and demographic condition of the Newmarket. It translates the broader vision and values of the Strategic Plan into principles that support land use policies. The core goals of the official Plan include: promoting and maintaining a Health Community, enhancing and protecting the natural and cultural heritage, achievement of economic wellbeing, development of sustainable improvements in transportation, and revitalizing the historical downtown.
In the promotion of a healthy community, the enables Newmarket to provide wellness services, health education, state of art medical facilities, and other health-related practices that contribute to the community’s well being. The municipal achieves the goal of a healthy community through anti-idling regulations, alternative transportation choices, tree preservation initiatives, and recreational opportunities.
The Official Plan provides recreational opportunities without compromising on enhancement and preservation of the natural heritage system. It seeks to manage growth in a manner that preserves the town’s cultural heritage. The plan has planting and operational policies to aid in re-naturalization. It provides for walking and cycling trails, parks and playing fields and open places that improve the community’s visual attractiveness while protecting the environment. It also promotes cultural achievements and fosters civic pride thereby enhancing the quality of life.
The Plan helps to manage and direct positive change and recognizes it as part of the town’s life. It provides policies that support responses to changing demands for housing services and employment. It encourages sustainable use of resources and promotes growth in a way increases the quality of life and enhances existing natural features and systems. The plan also encourages minimization of waste and pollution, and increasing efficient use of resources. It increases opportunities for self-reliance and revitalizes the economy through participation in local events and utilization of local resources.
The Official Plan contributes to the improvement of transportation by providing for walking and cycling trails and other transit facilities besides automobiles. For example, the rapid transit systems in the York Region and the Yonge Street have been developed through this plan. It also ensures that all proposals that seek to change land use within Newmarket have sufficient transit and traffic capacity.
Newmarket has limited land for additional employment purposes. Reducing commuting distance will support sustainability goals and probably provide additional room for commercial, manufacturing, office or any other means of employment. Lands adjacent to Highway 404, Yonge Street and Davis Drive have employment opportunities. The plan also identifies the Regional Healthcare center as having a significant opportunity to provide additional employment by providing various facilities and services.
The Official Plan seeks to revitalize the Central Business District (CBD) of Newmarket, which has a great potential for growth. Additional development within the CBD would ensure sustainable development by providing residents with opportunity to live close to services without having to commute long distances and create traffic congestion. The Central Business District will also assist in achieving fine dining facilities, additional recreation, culture, arts and entertainment. All these developments will be done without interfering with the rich history of the area. Currently, the Main Street has a mixed design of retail and service, institutional, office, entertainment, residential and recreational services.
The Greenbelt plan is a subset of the Official Plan as an overarching strategy that will ensure certainty and clarity about urban culture. It outlines where and how future growth and development should be accommodated, and what must be protected for sustainability. It provides permanent protection to ecological features and agricultural land base by specifying the limits and boundaries of urbanization. This protection extends to lake systems and watersheds (Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, 2005).
The Greenbelt Plan seeks to protect the Greenbelt Area, which includes lands within the Oak Ridges Moraine Area, the Niagara Escarpment Plan Area, the Parkway Belt West Plan Area designated as Protected Countryside. The plan specifies three types of geographic specific policies that apply to protected land: natural System, Agricultural System and Settlement Area. Additionally, there are Parkland, Open Space and Trails policies that apply across the Greenbelt.
The Agricultural System provides a permanent land base for economic activity and long-term agricultural production. This system is made up of rural areas, prime agricultural areas and specialty crop areas. These areas are protected by various policies.
The Natural System provides a permanent land base for human and ecological health in the Greenbelt and other areas. The National Systems policies protect landform and/or hydrologic features that form part of the natural heritage. The Natural System is made up of a Water Resource System and a natural heritage System.
The main challenge in achieving the objectives of the Greenbelt plan is urban sprawl. The rising population is putting more pressure on land to support human settlement and industrial infrastructure. Maintaining agricultural and forest land is therefore difficult.
Current Strategies Utilized
Newmarket has developed multiple strategies in order to deal with the population growth. The initial strategies were first derived in 2004, in response to the growing population (Newmarket, 2010). Newmarket began determine which areas would be able to support the population growth. This determination helped Newmarket to determine where new homes should be placed, schools and how to create more employment opportunities. In addition to these methods, Newmarket has developed urban growth centres. These centres work to identify regions that would be best suited for economic development and building new homes.
Newmarket is also aware of the effects a growing population will have on the environment and transportation. Newmarket intends to use many existing methods that are currently promoted in the York region. Amongst these existing methods “include: carpooling, vanpooling, discount transit pass programs, telecommuting, flexible work hours, compressed work weeks and shuttle buses” (York Region Transportation Plan, 2010, p. 34). These methods are further explored in the development of the ‘Big Move’ plan.
The Big Move came as an initiative to address transportation issues particularly within the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) where there are several challenges. This move would apply to other urban centers facing transportation problems due to rising levels of human and road traffic (Sustainable Prosperity, 2012). The transport problems in these centers affect humans, the environment and the economy. The Big move is about transforming transportation in the GTHA through a transportation plan that employs intelligent transportation systems, takes into account all modes of transport and integrates the local transit systems with each other. The plan is also geared towards easing commute times and congestion and reducing green house gas emissions. It promotes all kinds of transit-supportive development and optimizes transit infrastructure (Metrolinx, 2008).
There are nine Big Moves seek to achieve a rapid transit network, transit connectivity to the Pearson Airport, an expanded Union Station, walking and cycling networks, information systems for travelers, an integrated transit fare system across the region, mobility hub system, a strategy for goods movement, and an investment strategy to provide funding for these projects. The Big Move seeks to address transportation challenges, which are one of the objectives of the Official Plan. The transformation of transportation translates into achievement of the objectives outlined in the official plan.
The Official Plan gives a bigger picture of what the municipal council seeks to achieve in the long run. Just like the general growth plan, the Greenbelt Plan and the Big Move, the Official Plan focuses on sustainable economic growth in all sectors. The Greenbelt Plan is more inclined towards environmental conservation and protection of land bases. None of the plans seeks to explicitly address population growth as a major challenge. The development strategies seek to address the effects of population growth such as congestion in urban centers, destruction of the ecosystem and reduction in available arable land. It is important to incorporate population control as part of the development plan to address the issues outlined in the plans. The Big Move that seeks to transform the transport sector should also address air pollution from smoke and other gases emitted by automobiles (IPDS, 2009). It should also contain policies that advocate for more efficient energy sources.