Growth forecasts are on the rise for the Golden Horseshoe area of Southern Ontario. In fact, the Ministry of Infrastructure has increased the population targets by an extra 2 million people in the 2031 to 2041 timeframe with an amendment to the official plan passed just 2 weeks ago. These new targets are in addition to the existing expansion forecasts. Along with people come the need for services and jobs. Population growth plus jobs plus services equals more land being developed to meet the increasing needs in the areas involved.
Burlington is central within the area known as the Golden Horseshoe. But Burlington is essentially out of land for development. Current growth is being met by policies evolving around infill and intensification. An example of infill may be taking two homes currently existing on very large lots, severing part of each lot and creating a space where a third home can be built. To be fair, it may also involve taking vacant or run down properties, and using them for new construction. Intensification might involve taking down buildings that need to be improved and creating a 10 story building where a 3 story building had previously been. This seems to be what is happening in the downtown core.
Most of Burlingtons land mass to the north of the 407 Highway is in the green belt. Many of the properties are currently zoned for agricultural use. Many of the farm owners are seniors and unable to effectively run their former farm operations. They are in a bit of a holding pattern. Some investors and developers are buying land parcels in North Burlington at artificially depressed land prices, by way of comparison to neighboring Milton, not because they intend to take up farming, but possibly because they know that the current policies of infill and intensification will not meet the demands of future growth and expansion.
North Burlington is the home to the Burlington Airpark. Some form of expansion has been proceeding for over a year, as evidenced by fill being trucked in convoy style and on an almost daily basis for months if not longer. So the facts show that some are able to build and expand in north Burlington today. And the expansion is not for the sole benefit of the farm community surrounding this airpark. The expansion may be related to the closure of the Buttonville Airport, and if that's the case, it may get much busier.
The City of Hamilton has an airport surrounded by agricultural land. The decision has just been made to open in excess of 500 hectares of agricultural land around that airport for development. With that decision, land values have shot up in the area.
Whether it's airport expansion or new growth projections, the City of Burlington will have to consider moving some if its greenbelt boundaries and planning some form of development north of Hwy 407. It's time!