The Province says Halton's current population will double by 2031 and figuring out where the new residents will live is one of the key objectives of the Durable Halton Plan. Halton Region is in the early stages of working on its Durable Halton Plan-- a long-term growth strategy that will address requirements of provincial plans such as the Places to Grow and Greenbelt plans and Provincial Policy Statement. Those plans require that Halton's population grow to 780,000 residents and 390,000 jobs by 2031. The Region and all municipalities already have plans in place to accommodate 615,000 people by 2021, so the new plan will address growth in Halton for an additional 165,000 people. Area residents had a chance to learn more about the plan and have a say about the direction they would like it to go at a meeting in Georgetown last Tuesday. About 30 area residents and several local council members, Town and Region staff, were at the meeting at the Cultural Centre. Similar meetings are being held throughout the region. Through the process of formulating the plan, several issues key to Halton's future are to be discussed and examined such as: · What kind of role agriculture will play in Halton? · How can Halton improve the health and quality of life of its citizens? · How can Halton protect its Natural Heritage System? · What would intensification of Halton's communities look like? · How and when should communities in Halton expand their urban boundaries? Bob Lehman, a planning consultant hired by the Region to work on the plan, said the density recommended by the Province for growth centres (there aren't any in Halton Hills) is more than 200 people and jobs per hectare and more than 50 people and jobs per hectare in new areas.
"If we could achieve that,land would last well into the next century," said Lehman. Region predictions show that, without intensification, the 37,000 acres left for development in Halton would be urbanized in 45 years, with intensification they could last 115 years. A resident raised concerns about the roads in Halton Hills and how they will be impacted by growth. Director of planning and transportation for Halton Region Jane Clohecy said transportation and water will be addressed through the plan. Hills Ward 2 Councillor Bryan Lewis asked if the population target set by province could be appealed, and wondered if there wasn't enough well water available in Halton Hills to service the number of people it has to accommodate, would that mean the town would have to accept piped Lake Ontario water. Lehman said the provincial population target could not be appealed. "How it changes Halton Hills we don't know at this time," said Clohecy. Another area resident said he was amazed by the lack of interest by residents in the Durable Halton Planning process. "I don't think it (the name Durable Halton Plan) says anything to anybody. You need to talk to people in language they understand," said Councillor Ron Chatten. "You've got to engage them locally and they've got to believe if they come out it will make a difference," said Chatten. Mayor Rick Bonnette stressed the need to include in the plan commercial and industrial growth in Georgetown. Lehman said over the summer and fall the region and consultants working on the Durable Halton Plan will work on background papers and studies and come back to the public for input on some options for where the growth might be. For more information on the plan visit www.halton.ca/DurableHalton. Anyone with questions should contact Gena Ali, Halton's Senior Planner Growth Management at 1866-4HALTON (1-866-442-5866).
`I don't think it (the name Durable Halton Plan) says anything to anybody. You need to talk to people in language they understand.'