Planning for Regional Growth
York Region takes a strategic and comprehensive approach to developing plans and policies for services, growth and development balancing community needs, economic prosperity and environmental protection. We aspire to support sustainable, vibrant and inclusive communities to serve the needs of all residents and businesses.
The York Region Official Plan, approved by Regional Council in June 2022 and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing in November 2022, guides growth and land use changes and promotes efficient and effective development.
Regional Planning responsibilities include:
- Proactively planning for population and employment growth and aligning with infrastructure and financial planning
- Researching and analyzing data, using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to analyze spatial information to monitor trends in demographic shifts, economic development and the natural environment
- Guiding land development, including housing and protection of the natural environment
- Approval authority for Local Official Plans required to conform to the York Region Official Plan
- Consulting with stakeholders, partners, Indigenous communities and the public to engage on planning matters
Regional Official Plan
The York Region Official Plan contains policies and maps shaping how to accommodate future growth while focusing on economic vitality and protecting environmental areas to 2051.
York Region works with its nine cities and towns to support growth in their communities through regional alignment and prioritization. With a mix of urban and rural areas and different local contexts, each community requires a different approach to planning their future.
York Region assesses and plans for growth tailored for each city and town based on local context, potential for housing and business growth, infrastructure servicing and protected lands.
Find out more about York Region’s open data mapping for Official Plan schedules.
York Region is planning for growth from our current 1,239,500 residents and more than 615,000 employees in 2022.
What this growth means for York Region planning:
- York Region distributes forecasted growth to the nine cities and towns and each municipality plays an important role in achieving Regional growth targets
- It is more important than ever to build communities with a variety of housing options and employment opportunities where people can walk or cycle to amenities nearby
- There is a continued need to work with partners to support complete communities with timely delivery of roads, transit and infrastructure as well as services such as schools, libraries and community centres
- Aligning population and employment growth with the timing of infrastructure delivery is comprehensively addressed in the Water and Wastewater and Transportation Master Plans
How you can stay up to date on growth in the Region
York Region regularly monitors and reports on growth management trends.
- A Growth and Development Review report is released annually to provide updates on population growth, employment statistics, residential and non-residential building activity and other factors demonstrating the economic health of York Region
- The Annual Development Activity Summary report that outlines metrics on development applications received by York Region
- The Employment and Industry Report provides a detailed overview of employment data and trends in the Region
Bulletins and dashboards summarizing highlights from Statistics Canada’s Census are produced with every census
With the anticipated growth in York Region, a framework for where and how to accommodate population and employment growth is in place. This Regional Structure framework outlines the management of growth while protecting natural and agricultural systems, providing for complete communities and ensuring economic vitality in a financially sustainable manner.
Growth will occur mostly within built-up areas, including Centres and Corridors and in new communities with limited units in towns and villages across the Region.
Centres and Corridors
Centres and Corridors provide well-designed spaces creating vibrant neighbourhoods, including:
- Walking, cycling and transit for everyday activities
- Residential areas near services and transit
- Employment uses for jobs of those who live nearby
- Public services and infrastructure
York Region’s Centres and Corridors include:
- Regional Centres: areas with major growth and complete communities
- Regional Corridors: main roads connecting Regional Centres via transit
- Major Transit Station Areas: areas surrounding rapid transit stations, GO stations and subway stations
Intensification is the development of a property, site or area at higher density than currently exists. Through intensification, residential growth is directed to existing built-up areas through infill, developing vacant lots or areas or redevelopment of a building or site.
Why intensification is important
- Directing a significant amount of new residential growth to existing built-up areas makes the best use of infrastructure delivery, human services and transit ridership
- Growth in existing built-up areas minimizes outward growth into York Region’s agricultural areas
New Community Areas
Approximately half the growth to 2051 will be in new community areas, including future residential, commercial, community amenities and employment in areas of North Vaughan, the border between North Markham/South Stouffville and in East Gwillimbury.
New Community Areas are intended to be modern, compact, vibrant, inclusive and diverse and will prioritize people, sustainability and liveability. It is important these areas are planned with appropriate stakeholders, phased properly and supported by infrastructure.
Towns and Villages
York Region has a tradition of tightly knit villages, each with their own unique sense of place and identity with main streets and places to work, live and play. Historic streetscapes and main street areas within towns and villages should be retained and enhanced and each town and village in York Region has a role to play in accommodating a small portion of growth, including both residential and employment areas, where appropriate.
York Region’s Towns and Villages include Ballantrae, King City, Mount Albert, Nobleton, Pffeferlaw, Community of Stouffville and Sutton.
York Region plans the highest population and employment densities in its Major Transit Station Areas and Centres and Corridors, striving for complete communities connecting growth areas together.
These areas make sense for job attraction because:
- Residents can live close to where they work minimizing their commute
- Transit investment is focused in these areas such as subway extensions, Bus Rapid Transit and GO services
The Region attracts and retains businesses and top talent to strengthen its economic vitality through York Link.
Employment areas are essential to the long-term economic viability of York Region as they:
- Support a diverse range of businesses
- Create high-quality job opportunities for York Region residents
- Offer affordable options for businesses to locate in a variety of strategic locations, including near 400 series highways
- Provide locations for businesses requiring separation from residential and other areas sensitive to noise, activity or odours
- Help maintain a healthy tax base and generate revenue through new building construction
- Foster innovation and economic investment by supporting economic clusters and linkages between businesses
York Region regularly monitors, tracks and reports on employment trends in the Regional economy to plan for employment growth. This includes:
- A biennial survey of all businesses across the Region (excluding farm and home-based businesses); the York Region employment survey collects information on the location, type and characteristics of businesses in the Region
- An analysis of business and employment growth trends by sector using data collected from the employment survey, which is reported in the Employment and Industry Report
- A Vacant Employment Land Inventory which provides an overview of the supply and characteristics of vacant employment lands in the York Region
- The Planning for Employment Background Report which reports on historical and future employment trends including Employment Area Profiles
York Region is committed to providing complete communities with a full range of housing options to meet the needs of residents of all ages, abilities, income levels and stages of life.
Who plays a part in addressing housing affordability?
Whether it’s delivering the services people need, building new housing options or setting land use direction, York Region, in collaboration with local municipalities, senior levels of government, the development industry, community partners and other stakeholders, works towards innovative solutions to housing affordability.
Find out more about York Region’s Affordable Private Market Housing Implementation Plan and what else York Region is doing to address Housing Affordability.
The Climate Change Action Plan provides a framework for all levels of government, businesses and members of the community to work together and address climate change.
York Region coordinates strategies with its partners to:
- Increase the resilience and capacity of the Region to withstand and respond to current and future climate events
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions with a long-term goal of becoming a net-zero Region by 2050
Learn more about the Climate Change Action Plan and how everyone can help combat a changing climate at york.ca/ClimateChange
The Province of Ontario encourages well-designed, well-planned communities that attract residents, jobs and investment. The land use planning system gives municipalities a major role in planning decisions, and through development planning, York Region must ensure all planning conforms to Provincial plans.
There are many key Provincial plans to guide planning and promote building more housing, solid infrastructure, environmental protection and economic development through complete communities and vibrant cities.
Provincial policies and guidelines include:
- Provincial Policy Statement
- A Place to Grow - Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe
- Greenbelt Plan
- Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan
- Lake Simcoe Protection Plan
Some Provincial plans are currently under review and may impact Regional planning directives, such as Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022, containing planning implications for select upper tier municipalities, including York Region. Learn more at york.ca/Bill23
Ongoing engagement is imperative to the planning process. Planning staff at York Region strive to gather different perspectives and represent the public interest by providing opportunities for meaningful participation and education to those interested and impacted, whether directly or indirectly.
We want YOU to:
- Have your say in your community and let your voice be heard
- Be involved in the decision-making process for a future York Region
- Get involved when policies are being developed to help set the stage before development applications are proposed in your local community
If you have ideas or want to stay involved, sign up for our newsletter and be up to date on all planning matters in York Region.
Check out other York Region engagement opportunities at york.ca/PublicConsultations
Submit any questions to @email