In the recent provincial budget, there was funding set aside for municipal infrastructure projects and GTA transit that will go a long way to welcoming the population and jobs that are forecast to come to the area over the next few decades.
One of the big pieces will be the fully-funded $1.6-billion light rail transit line in Peel Region, connecting the cities of Mississauga and Brampton along Hurontario-Main Street. This is huge news for GTA transit.
When it was announced, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said the funding would help to build the city’s largest infrastructure project and called it “transformational.” City of Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey said the “transit option will act as a catalyst for further investment.”
The much-needed transit investment is a big step in the right direction and will prove to be transformational in a positive way if there are appropriate planning policies in place to support it.
By that, I mean the transit investment needs to be supported by the creation of transit-supported communities. Building complete communities, with the appropriate density of people and employment spaces, along transit lines like the new one in Mississauga and Brampton makes sense because they will help to sustain the operation of the service over the long term.
In the land development and home building industry, we refer to pre-designating and pre-zoning as a strategy that municipalities can use to encourage certain types of construction along transit corridors.
So the next step is for municipalities to create and update land-use plans, such as their zoning by-laws, to support the transit investment so that there will be the ridership necessary to support the transit.
Mississauga and Brampton’s LRT isn’t the only transit corridor that could benefit. Other examples include the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, which is under construction in Toronto now, and there was the recent announcement of construction starting on the 11-kilometre, 18-strop Finch West LRT. The Finch line is forecast to carry 40,000 rides a day by 2031.
To achieve this forecast density, the industry should not have to fight for appropriate intensification along these transit corridors and people who want to live and work nearby should not be delayed by drawn-out approval processes.
This is not a time for small plans – it’s time for everyone to embrace the change that comes with high density development needed to support the long-term sustainability of this $1.6-billion investment.
What’s most important is that we all work together to have better movement of goods and people, so that it gets easier to move around the region as we continue to grow.