Plans are in place for a major growth spurt

Last month marked a milestone for The Town of Milton when local politicians endorsed both a vision statement and series of guiding principles relating to a new official plan that will dictate how the community will look until the year 2051.

As Canada’s longest serving mayor having been elected to the position 13 times since 1980, Milton mayor Gordon Krantz has been involved in a many similar planning exercises at both the local and regional level.

“Public input is critical on this,” he told The Sun in an interview last week. “I call it a wish list. What I attempt to do as an elected official is separate out the wants from the needs. It’s one thing for you or me to want something, but do we need it? And when I talk about the needs, it’s about the needs of a community moving forward.”

The planning that went on 20 or 40 years ago, says Krantz, is a lot of different today and will be tremendously different going forward.An example of that is the construction of high-rises and increased urban density. “Mixed uses are the wave of the future as far as I am concerned,” he says. “An overused cliché is live, work and play in the area, but I am a firm believer in it. You are probably going to see more and more of that because densities are here to stay.“I won’t go as far as to say that is the case right across the province, but certainly in the GTA, which we are a part of and in the Niagara Triangle as I refer to it. That is where the action is going to be, so we have to properly plan for our future.”Krantz concedes that “one size does not fit all. It’s up to us to deal with the future and again, with density, I know everything is not in love with that. I still live on a single-family old Milton town lot, but those days are long gone for the average family of the future. We have to plan for that.”

Barb Koopmans, Milton’s commissioner of development services, describes the municipality as a “diverse community, therefore the choices it offers will be diverse, too.
“Sometimes choices will coincide and sometimes they will differ,” she said following adoption of the vision statement. “Making choices will involve compromise and trade-offs as Milton evolves and grows. As we make choices, we want to be inclusive and enable a community that provides something for everyone.”

Nancy Reid, senior policy planner with the municipality, says that approval came after 18 months of “listening, learning and visiting” with local residents. “We have heard a lot from the community about what they want and don’t want. They want choice about their future. We have created that as the major theme: Choice Shapes Us. We have heard loud and clear about their key concerns: planning places of worship, planning for climate change, offering more housing choices, offering more choices for living.”The next step, says Reid, will involve Phase 3 of the plan known as Big Questions in which staff will identify and answer critical policy questions through four discussion papers and then hold further consultation with local residents.The four key themes are living, working, moving and growing in Milton. In terms of growth, with the population expected to more than double by 2051, there will be plenty of activity in two key locations – the Milton Education Village (MEV) in which Laurier University and Conestoga College both intend to build campuses and the area in an around a proposed second GO station known as the Trafalgar Corridor.Jill Hogan, Milton’s director of planning policy and urban design, says the addition of the station, which once built would be situated on Trafalgar Rd near Derry Rd., and the new campuses will result in an abundance of residential development.

Meanwhile, Halton Region, which is also undertaking an official plan review, is estimating a population of upwards of a million people by 2051 for the four municipalities of Burlington, Oakville, Halton Hills and Milton.

Hogan says that with an additional 482,000 residents, Milton is well positioned to take on a lot of that new population: “If you look at places like Oakville and Burlington, they are fully built-out. Their planning in the future is going to be 100 per cent intensification.
“We offer a choice. We will certainly be intensifying, but we will also have green fields where we can provide housing as the market demands it.”
When it comes to fulfilling and creating a “live, work and play” community, increased places of employment must occur.To that end, the strategy will be two-fold, says Hogan. First, introduce “more innovative employment-type uses, but on the flip side, because Milton still has a large land base it is “well positioned to house large warehousing and logistics type uses as well. There is going to be a demand for that certainly in the next 30 years.”By The Numbers• The projected population of Milton by 2051: 250,000+.
• Current population as reported in the last Canadian census: 101,715.
• The We Make Milton Project is now moving into Phase 3 of the initiative.
• In this phase, four key themes will be studied: living, working, moving and growing in Milton.
• The projected population of Halton Region by 2051: 1 million.