The Greater Golden Horseshoe is one of the most desirable areas in the country, home to some of the fastest-growing cities globally. The province is a global leader in employment, trade, culture, and research – mainly for its range of economic opportunities and superior quality of life.
Ontario is taking bold and innovative measures to help make the region more livable by creating transit-oriented communities. The Transit-Oriented Communities (TOC) Program by Metrolinx and the Province of Ontario is designed to help bring jobs and housing closer to transit.
The Ontario Growth Plan is expecting 13.5 million people and 6.3 million jobs by 2041 - an increase of 50% and 40%. With this anticipated growth, the province needs to enhance its housing, transit, roads and overall infrastructure to support this projected growth and demand. TOCs are designed to help bring relief and support to this booming region.
What Are Transit-Oriented Communities?
Transit-Oriented Communities are high-density mixed-use developments that are either connected, adjacent or within a short walk of transit stations and stops.
The Province of Ontario has committed to a multibillion-dollar expansion of the transit systems across the Greater Golden Horseshoe to help bring the province closer together. This expansion includes the TOC program, which creates transit stations within walking distance of vibrant, sustainable communities with housing, jobs, retail, and entertainment. The goal is to create small cities where residents are encouraged to live, work and play.
These communities will be located across the province's four subway projects, including the GO transit, Light Rail Transit Projects and bus routes. Approximately $62 billion in transit investment should help leverage the profit generated into transforming communities and provide lasting benefits.
Who Benefits From Transit-Oriented Communities?
Those who benefit most from Transit-Oriented Communities are the people who reside and invest in them. These communities are essentially aimed to help enhance the quality of life for everyone around them. By improving the transit infrastructure and building new housing types, these communities can help accommodate the growth anticipated for the province while creating a sustainable future. Additionally, more housing opportunities will be available for future investors to get a hold of and profit from their desirable convenience.
The province is growing at an unprecedented rate, and it can very well affect Ontario's quality of living. For example, house prices in Toronto have risen by 128% in the last ten years as the demand for housing is high. Housing affordability has been the subject of concern across the country, especially in places of high density and demand. Building TOCs has the potential to provide Ontarians and Canadians with more accessible and affordable housing and connect people with job opportunities.
Overall Benefits Include:
- An increase in transit ridership to reduce traffic congestion in major cities;
- An increase in housing supply by adding affordable housing and jobs;
- A revival in the economy through significant projects post-pandemic;
- Addition of retail and community amenities within walking distance of public transit stations;
- Offset the cost of station construction, which would save taxpayers' money.
How the Government Is Stepping in to Bring These Objectives to Fruition
These investments involve federal, provincial, and municipal funding. Each level of government will play a different role in ensuring the success of these TOCs. The government, Metrolinx and third parties have joined in catalyzing these effective and dynamic communities. This allows the financial burden to be heavily relieved off the backs of Ontario's taxpayers.
The provincial government first introduced the Building Transit Faster Act in February 2020 to help mobilize the delivery of their priority subway projects. Then, in July 2020, the government passed the Transit Oriented Communities Act – which gives the government the ability to designate land as transit-oriented community land. This legislation allows the government to push the process around the priority subway projects even faster. Finally, the Ontario Rebuilding and Recovery Act passed in December 2020, which expanded the Transit Oriented Communities Act beyond priority subway projects to other transit projects, including GO Expansion and Light Rail Projects.
Investing in TOCs should double the share of travel by transit in the region, triple rapid transit, and quadruple the regional rail service. Money and resources from the Canadian and Ontario government, Metrolinx, and third parties will be invested in four subway projects, including a new line and three extensions of light rail transit. Currently, construction is underway on three light rail projects in the region. Additionally, bus rapid transit lines GO Rail Expansion will provide two-way, all-day service every 15 minutes across the network.
But that's not all. The province not only strives for economic excellence but also aims to build a more sustainable future. The Government of Ontario aims to create low carbon communities and has set a target for 2050 – where it seeks to reduce its emissions 80% lower than levels in the 1990s. The Transit-Oriented Communities program will work with other Provincial initiatives to promote and support economic excellence, protect the environment and help communities reach their full potential.
Further, the 2041 Regional Transportation Plan Strategy #4 works with the Growth Plan, supporting TOC as Mobility Hubs. This private and public collaboration aims to provide even more people with access to fast, frequent and reliable transit within walking distance. The Growth Plan prioritizes and requires the design of Major Transit Station Areas to feature supportive transit densities and access options that focus on walking, cycling and transit. Major Transit Station Areas can be created into Transit-Oriented Communities attracting new employment, public institutions and regionally significant services.
A Closer Look at Transit-Oriented Communities
Transit-Oriented Communities will help shape the Greater Golden Horseshoe and the province as a whole. They will allow residents and investors within the vicinity to benefit from them for years to come. The goal is to have many variations of TOCs located in both established and upcoming locations that are budding with potential.
There are four major Transit-Oriented Communities already underway. Three are located in the GTA – Science Centre (Don Mills) Station, Markham Centre Unionville and Uptown Hurontario-Steeles in Brampton – and one in Montreal's REM light rail initiative. We can take a closer look at these prime communities and how they will shape the cities they occupy.
Toronto Science Centre Station (Don Mills)
This station is part of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, set to open in 2022. The LRT will open as Line 5 Eglinton and run along Eglinton Avenue from Mount Dennis to Kennedy Station. There will be 25 stations connecting with existing transit lines, including the TTC subway at Yonge and Cedarvale, three heavy rail GO Stations, and 54 bus routes.
This station is part of an $8.4 billion LRT project – located in an established area that is transforming into a future transit hub and mixed-use community. The community around this station expects to add 5,000 homes and 300,000 square feet of office space while also cutting travelling times along the corridor up to 60%
Unionville Station (Markham Centre)
This GO Station is an expansion that links the GO Train to downtown Toronto's Union Station. Unionville Station is one of many stations set to benefit from an upgrade in service, increasing to an all-day, two-way train service every 15 minutes. This expansion is part of a $2.5 billion project bringing 16 stations across 49 kilometres. It will connect with a VIVA bus rapid transit line that connects York Region and an expansion to the 407 transitway that will provide an effective bus connection across the northern Toronto region, from Stouffville through Scarborough to downtown Toronto.
Most importantly, this station will transform an underdeveloped region into a thriving city centre in the heart of Markham – becoming a pedestrian-friendly transit hub, employment centre and diverse place to call home. It aims to accommodate 110,000 people and support 82,000 jobs with around 800 people and jobs per hectare around the station area.
Steeles Station (Uptown Brampton)
This station will be part of the Hurontario LRT, an 18-kilometre line with 19 stops starting in Mississauga at Port Credit GO Station and ending in Brampton at the Brampton Gateway Terminal. Part of the $4.6 billion LRT, this station is expected to open in 2024, aiming to shape uptown Brampton's core.
The area around this station will help the city of Brampton accommodate up to 100,000 people as this city experiences astronomical growth – three times the rate of the provincial average. This new LRT located in a suburban area will encourage more density with a new vibrant community hub.
Investing in Transit-Oriented Communities will help transform the region, provide more accessible and affordable housing, and connect people with employment opportunities. It also helps diminish traffic congestion and meet climate goals by encouraging the use of eco-friendly public transit.
Transit-Oriented Communities will provide future investors with more housing opportunities while leveraging the profit of future investments. These communities are the future which means investors should keep their eyes open for new condo developments. To learn more about pre-construction condos coming to the GTA’s Transit-Oriented Communities, connect with our GTA-Homes Platinum Agents today!