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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Growth management : the Toronto and Seattle experiences Gatti, Maria D.


Increasingly, where, how and when growth occurs has far reaching consequences for the health of the city and planet. In the past, many growth decisions have been made at the local level largely within land use terms. In today's highly interrelated and ever-expanding urban regions, it is recognized that these decisions must be made in a more comprehensive and consistent intergovernmental manner if the long-term health of all communities is to be protected. The planning structures as defined by the legislative and governance frameworks that are in place in many cities often do not address the need for improved growth management. Some state/provincial governments are taking an active role in determining the regional and local planning framework in which the management of growth takes place. In Canada, many of the initiatives are a refinement of existing planning legislation and regional governance structures. In the United States, many of the initiatives are the result of growth management legislation. This study explores the positive and negative attributes of Ontario's Planning Act and Washington State's Growth Management Act with respect to adoption and implementation of a regional growth strategy in the Greater Toronto Area and the Central Puget Sound Area and in facilitating or challenging the efforts of the cities of Toronto and Seattle in realizing their growth goals and objectives. Data sources for this study were libraries, government offices, and individuals active in municipal and intergovernmental relations. The focus of the data search was to determine what were the major urban issues facing Toronto and Seattle and whether the planning system was designed to provide effective solutions and expand their capacities to create the results they desire. The study contends that planning legislation can play an effective role in growth management if it embodies three essential characteristics. Firstly, it must facilitate the adoption and implementation of robust official or comprehensive plans. The plans must contain clear goals about the distribution, location and quality of future growth and explicitly detail the steps required to reach these goals. While the plans produced must integrate all planning functions related to the use of land to allow the development of cities that are economically, socially and environmentally balanced, the integration of land use and transportation planning is a prerequisite of effective growth management. Secondly, the local official or comprehensive plans that are adopted must be tied to a regional plan that expresses the collective aspirations and responsibilities of the various cities that constitute today's city-regions. The actions of local as well as senior governments must be consistent with the vision and policies contained in the regional plan. Thirdly, the legislation must be effective in promoting the development of intergovernmental planning relationships that allow all parties to continually learn and act strategically to realize the local and regional visions. The implementation of the plans is particularly dependent on the development of complementary governance and financial arrangements.

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