New Resource: Law Journal Article Tackles Sustainable Urban Transportation
Canada's Journal of Environmental Law and Practice recently published an article by Kristen Courtney titled "Sustainable Urban Transportation and Ontario's New Planning Regime: The Provincial Policy Statement, 2005 and the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe."
The article outlines the changes made to Ontario's municipal planning regime between 2004 and 2007 to promote more sustainable urban regions. A new Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) and the creation of the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe were among the most significant changes. Municipalities in Ontario are now required by law to plan cities that are more sustainable in overall design and layout and reduce auto-dependency in favour of transit, walking and cycling.
The article offers an in-depth look at the City of Toronto's transportation planning decisions from 2007-2008 and finds that the PPS and the Growth Plan are consistently ignored. For example, the Bloor Street Transformation Project currently under construction (a $25 million road reconstruction project along one of the busiest and most dangerous active transportation routes in the city) fails to make any mention of either the PPS or Growth Plan. While the project increases the width of the sidewalk it does not provide improvements to the cycling environment resulting in a citizen-led court challenge, the progress of which we followed closely in TCAT News.
Courtney points to a lack of accountability in implementing the new provincial policies and suggests recommendations to increase their effectiveness. One recommendation of interest that she believes could potentially assist municipalities in implementation is to bring more of the municipal transportation planning decisions in under the municipal class environmental assessment framework and to deal with the provincial policies under that review process.
Right now the default is that an EA is not required when roads are reconstructed as long as the status quo is maintained. Since the majority of roads are designed with motor vehicles foremost in mind, maintaining the status quo contravenes the PPS and Growth Plan. Roads are only reconstructed every 30-50 years, and with hundreds of road construction and reconstruction projects undertaken every year across the Greater Golden Horseshoe, each one of these should be considered an opportunity to implement the Growth Plan and PPS. Courtney proposes that by requiring all road reconstructions to be subject to an EA, the province would ensure that opportunities for public transit and active transportation are explored as part of all road projects.
The entire article is worth a read and a copy of it can be downloaded here.