Yet, too often, communities cannot build or update crucial infrastructure fast enough to accommodate growth because they face onerous regulatory hurdles.
York Region’s Administrative Centre Annex will begin at the corner of Yonge and Eagle streets in the Town of Newmarket.
Take York Region, which is projected to grow to 1,790,000 residents by 2041. The region has determined that its northern communities need a new waste water treatment plant and modifications to an existing sewage system. The project, called Upper York Sewage Solutions, will serve the towns of Aurora, Newmarket and East Gwillimbury. York Region has done its homework, conducting extensive scientific studies and consultations with stakeholders, and selecting advanced technologies to meet the rigorous waste water quality regulations that apply inside the boundaries of the Lake Simcoe watershed.
Though planning began almost a decade ago, the project remains unbuilt. York Region submitted its Environmental Assessment report to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change for approval in July, 2014. In late 2016, they were told that while the Environmental Assessment had met all requirements, the ministry needs to complete its consultation with a local First Nation before it can give final approval. Halfway through 2018, York Region is still waiting, uncertain about the project’s future.
The situation has an impact on both existing residents and potential homeowners. The current waste water system relies on a lagoon for treatment --one of the oldest and least-effective treatment methods in the province. The proposed system would rank among the best in the world and ensure longer-term sustainability for the communities in the Lake Simcoe watershed.
And, until sewage capacity increases, building and development are slower and more complex. Without new houses, condos and offices, how can Aurora, Newmarket and East Gwillimbury accommodate the more than 150,000 new residents and employees they expect to receive by 2031? And how many more potential new residents will these communities miss out on, simply because red tape is holding up the infrastructure needed to support building and development?
York Region is not the only municipality struggling to accommodate growth due to lengthy bureaucratic delays. GTA communities need better solutions.
The good news is that we all have the power to speak out to our politicians about better aligning approval processes with the provincial growth plan and prioritizing the building of much-needed infrastructure. As the municipal elections approach, we invite you to visit the website of our Build for Growth campaign, www.buildforgrowth.ca, to get informed about the issues and send a letter to your local candidate.