Regional municipal planning is a crucial aspect of strategic economic development. Decisions made today create ripple-like impacts throughout the region—impacting each aspect from government finances, industry production, and individual income, to macro-level economic and population growth, environmental conservation, and the capacity of infrastructure to sustain all of that activity. Further complicating the problem of municipal planning is the diversity among regions, each of which must be uniquely appreciated in terms of its potential and its limitations in conjunction with the relationships it has with the regions around it.
The strategies behind growth naturally must anticipate future needs, allocate resources accordingly, manage risk associated with uncertainty, and correspond to a vision for how and where development should occur. In Ontario in 2005, such a vision for development was legislated through the Places to Grow Act. In order to combat the accelerated urbanization of green space and agricultural land, while simultaneously supporting expected increases in population and encouraging economic growth, the Places to Grow Act calls for a harmonized approach across different regions. To support the mandates of the Places to Grow Act for regions within the Greater Golden Horseshoe, long-term projections for “land use, infrastructure, and financial planning” were generated for the diverse constituent regions and municipalities of the Greater Golden Horseshoe.