John Taylor tells Special Advisors that the growth planned for Halton isn't sustainable.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

May 18th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

mmw watching Taylor

Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward tweets a picture she had taken of John Taylor while he was delegating at the Provincial Review meeting held on Friday.

 

It wasn’t sustainable and John Taylor wanted the Special Advisors to the Minister of Municipalities and Housing, who were touring the nine Regions that were part of a Provincial Review, to know that his 21 years of experience as a Regional Councillor had led him to the conclusion that in order to meet the 2041 target the Region had been given for population growth there would have to be a 3.25% compound increase in growth to get from the current 550,000 population to the 2041 target of 1million the province was imposing on the Region.

Taylor said it just wasn’t going to be possible to build that kind of infrastructure in 22 years.

The cost to the Region’s taxpayers to develop the infrastructure is not something the property tax base can keep up with.

Taylor didn’t limit his comments to the size of the infrastructure challenge. He pointed out that the Greater Golden Horseshoe is a “province within a province” and that transportation had to be looked at from that perspective.

He told the Special Advisors that transit should be made a Regional responsibility until there was an Authority in place to oversee transit from a Greater Golden horseshoe perspective.

JANE WITH jOHN

John Taylor in conversation with Halton Region CAO Jane MacCaskill.

John Taylor may no longer be an elected official – he retired from the political scene and did not run in the 2018 municipal election.

Taylor added one comment that should have out a shivers through the few Burlingtonians who were in the room. “The constraints we are under” said Taylor “might mean resorting to greenfield growth”.

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3 comments to John Taylor tells Special Advisors that the growth planned for Halton isn’t sustainable.

  • Adam

    Hi Tom, I’m wondering what you are suggesting we do? The province isn’t “imposing growth” , the province doesn’t have babies. The reality is that the population of the GTA is growing, these people have to go somewhere. Here is a section from the Provincial population projections “The GTA is projected to be the fastest growing region of the province, accounting for over 65 per cent of Ontario’s net population growth to 2041. The GTA’s population is projected to increase from 6.9 million in 2017 to 9.7 million in 2041.”

    Are you suggesting we stop people from having babies? Decrease immigration? Or are you just saying that people should go elsewhere? I’m pretty sure people in Toronto, Peel, Durham etc. feel the same way about traffic and infrastructure but what are we going to do about it?

    • Tom Muir

      Adam,

      Reasonable questions, given how stuck we are with heads in the sand. But these are not things to be answered in a comment here.

      That said, to even start to sketch out what to do we have to have a forum to talk about it, which is something we do not have. John had to use a meeting with the Special Advisors to even raise an abstract version of the general concern.

      As you imply and hint at, this is one of those meta-problems – it is complicated to describe and is complicated to describe ways to solve, if it even can be “solved”. But most of all we need a high level official and organized start to a conversation. But we don’t and I see no willingness to even acknowledge the need.

      Anything even resembling a conversation always seems to start and stop with more or less what you said. In these terms as givens it’s intractable.

      That said, we need to get our facts and premises straight. Natural population increase is not even replicating our population, so forget babies as part of the solution.

      The provincial population projections are just that – projections based on hypothetical assumptions and extrapolation that are not baked in but are subject to policy choices.

      Immigration, mostly from outside, and some inside, is the main driver, but this depends on where they go. This is Federal control at the national level. It can be reduced, and there are other policy choices, but we aren’t talking about this either.

      The province, through laws and policies, does in practical fact impose growth. It divides the “projections” it makes among different areas of the province and this is part of how we are governed.

      The province has been doing this in my experience since at least 1968 when it published a large policy discussion volume called “Design for Development – the Toronto-Centred Region”

      It was one of the first things dropped on my desk when I started my first job in 1971 at the Ontario treasury and intergovernmental affairs Ministry. This central planning has never stopped since then, and the last big one in Halton was the Halton Urban Structure Plan. This population just gets ratcheted up every 5 or 10 years, as it creeps out from the center.

      We are living in and with the consequences of this growth history right now, and it is just going to get worse on the path we are on. Make no mistake about that. John spent about 30 years in the middle of it, and speaks from a sixth sense he has acquired.

      This Ontario planning has great momentum and is entrenched with special interests, politically and development related. You know, follow the money. There is no real talking here either about the consequences of 3 million more people in the GTA in 22 years.

      My experience working professionally with the province and the fed, and personally in my long involvement in Burlington and Halton development issues makes me think that what we are trying to do in this huge growth leap is insane. There are all kinds of real world examples to demonstrate where this leads.

      Working at a job made me use the word sustainable as this is more respectable. But in almost 50 years of this, I’ve seen that nobody in power really wants to end the party, and they all just keep talking about the consequences we already see for years.

      I have come to agree with the guys who defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

      So you are right in your starting questions and me about the complication beyond a comment.

      What would you suggest we do about it? It’s your way of life too being flushed I’m afraid where we are going.

  • Tom Muir

    I am glad, almost elated, that some politician, and John especially, finally blew the whistle on the insane growth path the province is trying to put us on. It’s the herd of elephants in the room.

    Maybe it’s the beginning of a conversation that nobody will even start. It’s taboo.

    But this time, the numbers we are talking about, as John simply states, are mission impossible.

    It’s like trying to fly to Mars with no knowledge of physics, or what spacecraft and trip logistics are needed to get there.

    If and when we get to 500,000 people, it will have taken us our entire history in this place to get here.

    I say bluntly, only unthinking stupidity would assume without questions that we can somehow do this number again, to replicate all this, and get to 1 million, in 22 years.

    Only cancer grows without restraint, but as we so well know, it feeds on and kills its host.

    But we don’t want to talk about this do we? But it’s really what John told us we will be doing.

    I would say though that making the host larger, with more resources to feed the growth, only puts off the day of reckoning that the Region is “full” and bankrupt.

    Council just declared a climate crisis.

    Crisis? What crisis?

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