Urban Sprawl

Urban sprawl is gobbling up green space in southern Ontario at an unprecedented rate.

At the current rate, an additional 260,000 acres (1,070 km2) of rural land will be urbanized by 2021, almost double the size of the City of Toronto. About 92% of the land is Ontario’s best farmland.

Sprawling patterns of growth unnecessarily destroy green space and farmland, pollute rivers, streams and other waterways and force us to be overly dependent on vehicles, which in turn fuel air pollution and global climate change. http://www.greenbeltontario.org/pages/urbansprawl.htm


 Prepared for the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario
Prepared by Jack A. Donnan, Environmental Economics Services 15 Corningham Street, West Hill, Ontario M1C1Y2

exerpt- Of particular concern to the Environmental Commissioner and to a great many Ontario citizens is the disappearance of green spaces, agricultural lands and natural environments in Southern Ontario as populations grow and urban, built environments expand. The widespread and rapid conversion of natural lands to subdivisions and shopping malls is due in part to the erroneous conventional wisdom among the development industry and their allies among municipal and provincial politicians and their respective staffs that green spaces and natural environments have little or no “hard” economic value, particularly as compared with residential subdivisions and commercial or industrial parks.

8.1 Key Findings

Urbanization, Growth Trends and the Consequences of Urban Sprawl

The key characteristics of the predominant urban development pattern, known as urban sprawl, include unlimited growth and outward expansion of urban developments, low density residential subdivisions and commercial plazas, “leap-frogging” private developments (usually into farmlands or open spaces) which forced publically financed infrastructure to follow, excessive dependence on the automobile for transport and spatially segregated land uses (eg. residential, commercial, shopping, schools, public buildings).

Some of the key adverse effects of this development pattern include:

a)  irreversible losses of forests, green space, wetlands, wildlife habitat, natural environments, open space and scenery,
b)  loss of agricultural lands and their production,
c)  increased traffic congestion and political pressures to build more roads, rather than expanding public transit,
d)  increases in air pollution (mainly due to automobile emissions) and water pollution (mainly dueto increases in sewage generation),
e)  inefficiencies due to high costs of providing utilities, roads, highways and infrastructure toscattered, low density subdivisions and bedroom communities,
f)  generation of “fiscal deficits” and rapidly increasing taxes for jurisdictions where infrastructure capital and servicing operating costs exceed the development charges paid by developers and additional tax revenues paid by property owners,
g)  increased conflicts associated with rural businesses and land uses that are incompatible with residential areas, eg. rendering plants, livestock farming operations, abattoirs, stone and gravel quarries.
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