Email this pageMunicipal Planning and Financial Tools for Economic Development Handbook
Produced by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Provincial Planning Policy Branch and Municipal Finance Policy Branch
Message to Our Readers
Table of Contents
Snapshot 1: Community Improvement Planning (2007), Dryden, Ontario
Snapshot 2: It's A Two-Way Street, Vancouver, Washington, U.S.A.
Snapshot 3: Green Building Leadership: SAS, Toronto, Ontario
Snapshot 4: Weathering Boom and Bust - Regional Co-ordination, Smithers, B.C.
Snapshot 5: Business Retention and Expansion Program, Goderich, Ontario
Snapshot 6: A Northern Economic Development Corporation, Sudbury, Ontario
Snapshot 7: Downtown Farmers' Market, Windsor, Ontario
Snapshot 8: Seismic Upgrading, Heritage and Downtown Rejuvenation, Victoria, B.C.
Chapter 3: Reflections
3.0 The Importance of Place
3.1 Municipal Checklist for Investment Readiness
1. Economic Development Planning
2. Sustainable Land-Use Planning
a. A Solid Foundation
b. The Sustainability Connection
c. Augmenting Your Municipal Tool Kit
3. Your E-Gateway: First Impressions
a. Navigation: Is It Easy?
b. Marketing: Is It Effective?
c. Performance: Does It Function As It Should?
4. Taking Care of Business: Process, Practice and Partnerships
Chapter 4: Charting the Future
A. Community Renaissance: Partnerships, Cornwall, Ontario
B. GIS: Northern Economic Space, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
C. Global Communications: Rural Connections, Radium Hot Springs, B.C.
D. Green Hub: Reframing Business, City of Kawartha Lakes, Ontario
E. Heritage: A Sustained Development Strategy, St. John's, Newfoundland
F. One Team, Infinite Solutions: Development Permit System, Carleton Place, Ontario
G. PARC: An Intra-Regional Co-operative Model, Parkland Region, Manitoba
H. Placemaking: A Cultural Shift, London, Ontario
I. Project Green: Retrofitting for the Future, Greater Toronto Area, Ontario
J. ROI: New Economic Growth, Waterloo Region, Ontario
K. Food Planning: Setting the Main Course, Niagara Region, Ontario
Chapter 1: Making Places Matter
Viewed through the lens of sustainable development, strategies for municipal land-use planning and design are being developed and implemented in ways that directly link the built environment to economic well-being. Through placemaking efforts, the long-term intent is to add value to the community – socially, culturally, environmentally, and economically – resulting in greater community distinctiveness and identity. This, in turn, allows communities to become “destinations” or “places of choice” for people and businesses.
The BUILT ENVIRONMENT includes buildings, transport networks, public spaces, parks, natural systems and all the other spaces that collectively shape the form, pattern and function of a community.
“The way we plan and design places has a significant impact on their social and economic fortunes. This is true in the regeneration of existing neighbourhoods and the development of new communities. Good urban design can help increase property values, reduce crime, contribute to public health and ease transport problems.”
The use of urban design codes: building sustainable communities, Introduction,
Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), November 1, 2003
Chapter 2: Tools for Economic Development
Through the built environment, municipalities can achieve economic development outcomes that:
- help yield long-term community benefits such as good air, water and soil quality, inviting public spaces, population densities that support local businesses, and effective use of land, buildings and infrastructure
- contribute to strengthening economies so that they can better withstand global economic shifts and events that are beyond local control
- facilitate municipal “destination” and “place of choice” goals
To support municipalities, a number of provincial planning and financial tools are available to help plan, design, direct and manage the built environment in ways that are socially, culturally, environmentally and economically beneficial for future generations. The key tools are highlighted in this chapter, accompanied by snapshots of local or regional economic development activities.
Some snapshots relate to planning or financial tools featured in this handbook, while others demonstrate that there are many other ways to approach economic development. What they have in common is a desire to meet current challenges by maximizing land, building, infrastructure and service assets as a means of attracting and retaining people and business investment.
Location: Dryden, Ontario (population: 8,195)
Tool: Community improvement and fee-incentive programs
Location Advantage: Midway between Thunder Bay, Ontario and Winnipeg, Manitoba
Community Improvement Planning Program: Redevelopment improvements to land, buildings, signage, streetscape and landscaping to strengthen Dryden’s role as a service centre for trans-Canada traffic
- Building façade improvements..........................................to $5,000 max.
- Improved signage..........................................................to $2,000 max.
- Parking area improvements..............................................to $2,500 max.
- Landscaping improvements along Highway 17......................to $5,000 max.
Application-Fees Incentive Program:
- Site plans, rezoning, minor variance and building permits.......dependent upon application type
Contact: Maryann Legros, Planning Administrator, email@example.com
Zoning By-Laws (s. 34)
Site Plan Control (s. 41)
Minimum and Maximum Standards (ss. 34(3))
Height and Density Exchange (s. 37)
Subdivision Review and Approval (s. 51)
Development Permit System (s. 70.2 and O. Reg. 608/06)
Employment Lands Protection (ss. 22(7.3), ss. 34(11.0.5))
Reduction of Cash In Lieu of Parkland (s. 42)
Reduction or Exemption from Parking Requirements (s. 40)
Community Improvement Plans (s. 28)
Exemption, Refund, Reduction of Application Fees (s. 69)
Municipal Act, 2001 (MA) and City of Toronto Act, 2006 (COTA)
General Power to Make Grants (s. 107 MA, s. 83 COTA)
Business Improvement Areas (s. 204 to s. 215 MA)
Heritage Property Tax Relief Program (s. 365.2 MA, s. 334 COTA)
Municipal Capital Facilities Agreements (s. 110 MA, s. 252 COTA)
Municipal and City Services Corporations (s. 203 and O. Reg. 599/06 MA, s. 148 and O. Reg. 609/06 COTA)
Small Business Programs/Business Incubators (s. 108 MA, s. 84 COTA)
Brownfields Financial Tax Incentive Program (s. 365.1 MA, s. 333 COTA)
Development Charges Act, 1997
Development Charges By-Law
The Planning Act tools highlighted in this chapter include:
o zoning by-laws
o site plan control
o minimum and maximum standards
o height and density exchange
o subdivision review and approval
o development permit system
o employment lands protection
o reduction of cash in lieu of parkland
o reduction or exemption from parking requirements
Zoning By-Laws (s. 34 of Planning Act) – Zoning by-laws are used to specify matters such as density, uses of land, parking requirements and form-related standards – including building heights, lot coverage, setbacks, minimum lot sizes, and other building envelope specifications. To keep pace with market conditions and to create higher-quality built environments, flexible and context-relevant standards can be implemented to support economic development goals. For example, a municipality may require:
a range and mix of land uses that create synergies between people, businesses and institutions, in order to foster vibrant, inclusive and economically sustainable communities
compact development within established settlement boundaries, in order to effectively use land, buildings, infrastructure and services (e.g., transit) and to reduce the need for costly municipal outlays for infrastructure to service new development
building massing (form and bulk) that creates vistas, gateways and visually attractive streets and neighbourhoods, in order to increase community marketability
Site Plan Control (s. 41 of Planning Act) – Municipalities can influence the layout and design of development, including compatibility with neighbouring structures, internal site circulation, building access, location of transit stops, and design of parking areas. Attention to external building and boulevard design can increase street safety (eyes-on-the-street building design, sidewalk bump-outs/broadenings at intersections, lighting), comfort (street furniture, trees for shading), reduced environmental impacts (granular-based pavers, rain-absorbent landscaping, bicycle parking) and barrier-free access (curb ramps, accessible walkways and entrances). Together, the character, scale and appearance of buildings, streets, and open/green spaces can be linked to the achievement of socio-economic objectives which may include improved community well being through healthy and active citizens, in addition to business support through the attraction and retention of employees.
Minimum and Maximum Standards (ss. 34(3) of Planning Act) – More efficient built forms can be achieved through by-law standards for minimum and maximum building height and density. Community resources such as nearby services, public transit, utilities, and existing road and sidewalk networks and greenspaces, can be used more effectively while expanding the number of potential customers for area businesses.
Height and Density Exchange (s. 37 of Planning Act) – Municipalities can require that facilities, services and matters, as set out in an official plan and by-law, be provided in return for an increase in building height and/or density. This exchange might include streetscape and design elements – for example, protected bicycle parking, outdoor seating, non-slip pedestrian surfaces or public art – in support of municipal placemaking and economic development objectives.
Location: Vancouver, Washington state, U.S.A. (population: 164,500)
Program: Downtown revitalization
Tool: Street conversion from a one-way to two-way street
Context: A great deal of time, effort and investment were being put into revitalizing the city’s downtown, which had been in decline for many decades. While there were a number of successes – restored parks, a new hotel, nearby shopping centre and mixed-use buildings – Vancouver’s Main Street, formerly the primary commercial centre, remained stagnant. That is, until city council opted for a simple and inexpensive solution – convert Main Street from a one-way to a two-way street. With a number of revitalization projects in place, the addition of yellow paint, new signage and traffic lights changed the street ambience almost overnight. The number of people visiting Main Street increased significantly and new businesses opened. Main Street merchants are happy with the result. According to Vancouver’s Downtown Association, which added 32 new members in 2009, “the two-way street not only reduces confusion for people visiting downtown, but more importantly, it’s one of the catalysts facilitating people’s re-entry into the area and helping to revive a once lively urban life.”
Contact: Lee Coulthard, Director/Past President, Vancouver’s Downtown Association, firstname.lastname@example.org
Subdivision Review and Approval (s. 51 of Planning Act) – Municipal review and approval powers provide opportunities to assess the sustainability of proposed plans of subdivision at the lot, street and neighbourhood level. This includes compact form through smaller lot sizes; pedestrian and cycling pathways connected to off-site walkways and trails; mixed uses such as public spaces, commercial/institutional areas and schools; lot orientation that maximizes solar benefits; community design solutions (e.g., traffic-calming roads); road connectivity that ensures efficient movement of goods, services and people; and, green/urban agricultural spaces to mitigate heat-island effects, to reduce pressure on stormwater systems, and to provide spaces to grow food.
This process, among other things, enhances municipal capacity for ensuring the creation of places that improve the quality of life for future residents while reducing pressure on municipal infrastructure, including costs for expansion, maintenance and replacement. It also increases residential marketing opportunities by drawing and retaining people through the availability of attractive, environmentally-friendly, and well-serviced neighbourhoods.
Location: Toronto, Ontario (population: 2.5 million)
Tool: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) commercial-building certification
Background: In 2005, when SAS, a provider of business and analytical software, broke ground for its new corporate headquarters on King Street East, it did not set out to build Canada’s first LEED-certified (silver) newly-constructed, commercial-office building. Its goal was to build an effective working environment for its staff and tenants and to integrate itself into the King-Parliament community, just east of Toronto’s financial district. Driven by an employee culture with green priorities, it made sense to reduce its environmental footprint through a 110,000 square foot, $30 million facility (2004 construction costs), constructed out of 55 per cent recycled material. The City of Toronto was supportive of the proposal, as this investment demonstrated sustainable-building leadership and supported the “Kings Regeneration” initiative to shift investment towards a broad range of land uses in a former industrial area, through a flexible, regulatory framework focused on built form.
- uses 30 to 50 per cent less energy than a comparable building of similar design (in 2008, 62 per cent less energy/sq. ft.)
- reduced annual CO2 in 2009 by 4,060 tonnes (equivalent to taking 615 cars off the road or planting 20,000 trees)
- rain-water harvesting system that collects one million litres of water for landscaping and flushing purposes
- reduced heat-island effect through a reflective roof
- natural lighting from floor-to-ceiling windows with south and west exposures
- three-storey atrium topped with a skylight and low-emissive glass to reduce heat entering through windows
- under-floor air distribution system that saves cooling energy and improves comfort through better air quality
Contact: Valdemar Nickel, Manager, Planning Services, NORR Limited, email@example.com
Development Permit System (s. 70.2 and O. Reg. 608/06 of Planning Act) – This system combines zoning, site plan and minor variance processes into a single application and approval process, and can be applied to all or parts of a municipality. It allows for variations from minimum and maximum standards for height, density and lot area, as well as permitting a range of conditions to be imposed before or on the issuance of a permit. For example, these may include controlling vegetation removal, site alteration, sustainable design features on building exteriors, and ongoing monitoring of groundwater and soil conditions after remediation. Municipalities can also identify discretionary uses subject to specified criteria, such as development conditions in areas adjacent to environmentally-sensitive areas – for example, vegetative protection and restoration, and enhancement of natural heritage or hydrological features and their connections.
The certainty, efficiency, and cost savings that can be achieved through this development framework is attractive to developers, property owners, municipalities, and the public because community participation takes place early in the process, development rules are stated up front, and once the development permit system is in effect, third party appeals cannot be made to the Ontario Municipal Board.
Location: Smithers, British Columbia (population: 5,217)
Tool: Regional long-term economic development planning
Community Economic Development Study: From Boomtown to Sustainable Town, March 2008
Purpose: To establish direction through strategies and actions that support sustainable economic growth
- Diversify through geographically diverse business markets and growth across different economic sectors
- Build on town assets through a compact, human-scale downtown, outdoor/nature-based amenities, vibrant arts and culture community, alpine location, and affordable housing
- Attract new business investment and prioritize growth in resource-based industries (mining), tourism, and arts and culture
- Drive change, improve performance, create partnerships and leverage funding through an arm’s-length Economic Development Office (EDO), to co-ordinate and organize the town’s economic development activities
The town’s EDO concept is being embraced by the region’s local governments (regional population: 38,243) – including the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (Rural Area A), Village of Telkwa, and the Office of the Wet'suwet'en First Nations – which will help to capitalize on economies of scale, co-ordinate economic activities, and pool resources across the region
Contact: Deborah Sargent, CAO, Town of Smithers, firstname.lastname@example.org
Employment Lands Protection (ss. 22(7.3), ss. 34(11.0.5) of Planning Act) – Planning for long-term and stable employment areas can support municipal efforts to attract investment and to be competitive. To better protect employment lands, where a municipality has official plan policies dealing with the removal of land from employment areas, a council’s refusal or non-decision of an application to redesignate or rezone lands from employment to other uses cannot be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board. With official plan policies in place that establish the rules for areas of employment, municipalities have more certainty and control when planning for adequate supplies of employment land to meet local needs and targets, and investors can be more certain of the long-term use of the land.
Reduction of Cash in Lieu of Parkland (s. 42 of Planning Act) – In redevelopment situations where parkland dedication cannot be accommodated, and appropriate official plan policies are in place, municipalities can reduce the required cash in lieu of parkland in exchange for sustainability features – including green/reflective roofing, external building shade structures, and renewable-energy technology (e.g., solar-heated water). Sustainable, people-friendly neighbourhoods create a sense of place and support economic objectives such as new business investment, population recovery, and attraction or retention of employment talent.
Reduction or Exemption from Parking Requirements (s. 40 of Planning Act) – A municipality can reduce capital and maintenance costs for itself and businesses, while facilitating pedestrian-friendly and transit-supportive areas, through agreements that reduce requirements or exempt an owner or occupant of a building from providing and maintaining parking facilities.
Location: Goderich, Ontario (population: 7,563)
Tools: Community improvement incentive programs, partnerships, and small-business support
BR+E Program (2006): A collaboration between the business community and funding partners for a long-term strategy to develop the economy and retain businesses, with partnerships that include the Town of Goderich, the Goderich and District Chambers of Commerce, the Huron Business Development Corporation, the Goderich Business Improvement Area, and the County of Huron Planning Department.
Outcome: The STRONG: Strategy to Revitalize Our New Goderich, 2007, which builds on local assets such as cultural heritage and proximity to Lake Huron
Program in Action (2007 to 2009):
- Downtown Core Community Improvement Plan: a planning and financing program to stimulate downtown investment, enhance heritage characteristics, and direct redevelopment, including remediation of brownfields
- Health: recruitment of medical practitioners
- New Business: Chambers of Commerce Business Kit with information for potential investors
- Marketing: development of a joint-marketing campaign, Shakespeare to the Shoreline
- Site Selection: up-to-date inventory of commercial and industrial lands and buildings
- Training and Development: Customer Service Excellence and “ambassador” training programs
Contact: Judy Crawford, CEO, Goderich Chamber of Commerce, email@example.com
The financial tools highlighted in this chapter include:
o general power to make grants
o community improvement plans
o business improvement areas
o heritage property tax relief program
o municipal capital facilities agreements
o municipal and city services corporations
o small business programs/business incubators
o brownfields financial tax incentive program
o exemption, refund, reduction of application fees
o development charges by-law
General Power to Make Grants (s. 107 of Municipal Act, 2001 s. 83 of City of Toronto Act, 2006) – Municipalities have the general power to provide grants, subject to the municipal anti-bonusing rule outlined below. The kinds of grants that may be available, include:
- providing loan guarantees
- selling or leasing land at a nominal amount
- providing for the use of municipal employees on terms stated by council
- donating food and merchandise
Generally, municipalities cannot provide financial assistance to bodies that undertake manufacturing, industrial or commercial activities through the granting of bonuses (s. 106 of Municipal Act, 2001, s. 82 of City of Toronto Act, 2006). However, exceptions to this prohibition against bonusing rule exist in relation to planning objectives (i.e., community improvement plans), small-business creation (e.g., small business programs, sometimes called business incubation), and/or the provision of municipal capital facilities.
Community Improvement Plans (s. 28 of Planning Act) – These plans may include means by which municipalities can provide financial incentives, in order to achieve planning objectives that are for the broader public good. Lower-tier and single-tier municipalities can plan for community improvement for all or parts of their jurisdiction through development, redevelopment, maintenance and rehabilitation. This includes the ability to acquire, hold, clear, lease and sell land in designated areas, as well as to direct and stimulate development through grant and/or loan programs that support a municipality’s community-building goals. Municipalities may wish to consider possible goals such as assessing soil contamination, retrofitting existing buildings or constructing buildings for energy efficiency and accessibility, improving streetscapes, building affordable housing, and adaptive reuse of industrial, commercial and historic buildings.
Upper-tier municipalities named in O. Reg. 221/07 (Planning Act) can adopt community improvement plans relating to affordable housing, infrastructure, and transit corridors (O. Reg. 550/06 of Planning Act). Inter-governmental co-ordination may take place through lower-tier and upper-tier participation in each other's grant or loan programs, provided there are related polices in the official plan of the municipality making the grant or loan.
Community improvement programs can be tailored to support municipal redevelopment and revitalization goals such as diversifying employment opportunities, improving accessibility, attracting green-technology industries, remediating and redeveloping brownfields, revitalizing core areas, and rural and urban green building practices. As examples, these could include municipal programs focused on public-space improvements such as barrier-free paths and walkways and park improvements, and financial incentive programs intended to stimulate private-sector retrofitting of existing buildings for energy efficiency.
Community improvement plans do not require provincial approval. However, municipalities must consult with the Province on any proposed plans, in accordance with the Planning Act.
Location: City of Greater Sudbury (population: 157,857)
Tools: Economic development strategic planning, economic development corporation, community engagement, partnerships
Coming of Age in the 21st Century Digging Deeper 2009: Initiated by the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation (GSDC), this reformulated strategic plan serves as a roadmap for economic development and resiliency. It brings together Greater Sudbury’s Vision 2020 - a growing community bringing talent, technology and a northern lifestyle together.
- Identifying guiding principles: embracing emerging opportunities, encouraging environmental stewardship, fostering the creative, cultivating a business-friendly environment and celebrating a northern lifestyle
- Identifying top economic opportunities: promotion of tourism and high quality of life through arts and culture and the region’s natural assets, intensifying research and development activities based on its strengths – health, environment and mining, positioning itself through sustainable community development, and marketing its leadership in mining, mining technology and infrastructure renewal
- Identifying economic drivers: including mining and mining supply and services, leadership in education, research and innovation, lifestyle living through a thriving and sustainable arts and culture community, and a regional centre for health services expertise
- Maintaining First Impressions: through a user-friendly, investment-ready e-gateway, the GSDC provides links to economic engines, site selection, incentives, small business, lifestyle, Greater Sudbury basic information and GSDC contacts
Contact: Helen Mulc, Manager of Economic Development, Greater Sudbury Development Corporation, firstname.lastname@example.org
Business Improvement Areas (s. 204 to s. 215 of Municipal Act, 2001) – A municipality can designate a Business Improvement Area (BIA) and establish a management board, customarily at the request of the local business community. In general, a BIA has two objectives:
1) to oversee the improvement, beautification and maintenance of
municipally-owned land, buildings and structures in a designated area, beyond
what is provided by the municipality
2) to promote the area as a business or shopping area
With council-approved annual budgets, typical activities of BIAs include:
- supplementing municipal infrastructure through capital improvements to streetscapes (e.g., street furniture, lighting)
- organizing community events that draw new customers into their shopping districts (e.g., street festivals, farmers’ markets)
- working to make business areas cleaner and safer (e.g., removal of graffiti, providing garbage receptacles)
- marketing and promoting the area (e.g., banners, flyers)
- recruiting businesses by working with commercial and industrial property owners to help ensure that available space is occupied, and that an optimum business and service mix is achieved and maintained
- advocating on behalf of the business community while establishing important relations with community voices (e.g., municipal council, local community groups, universities/colleges, and chambers of commerce)
In addition to improving business appeal through physical improvements and enhanced ambience, BIAs foster economic development within designated areas and the wider community, by providing an impetus for tourism and investment.
Increased business activity may improve both the municipal and sales tax base and may support public services that benefit everyone. In addition, fostering active community engagement contributes to the quality of neighbourhoods by strengthening and building community interest, social cohesiveness, spirit, pride, and networks that extend beyond BIA boundaries.
Heritage Property Tax Relief Program (s. 365.2 of Municipal Act, 2001, s. 334 of City of Toronto Act, 2006) – Through a by-law, municipalities can establish a Heritage Property Tax Relief Program which may encourage good stewardship, maintenance, and conservation of designated heritage properties. This program provides tax relief (10 to 40 per cent) to owners of eligible properties to protect heritage features. Municipalities contribute through their portion of the tax relief while the Province shares through the education portion of the tax relief. Conserving built-heritage assets can maintain and add to community aesthetics, help create a strong sense of place, and support municipal objectives related to attracting and retaining residents, businesses, employment talent, and tourists.
Municipal Capital Facilities Agreements (s. 110 of Municipal Act, 2001, s. 252 of City of Toronto Act, 2006) – These agreements are commonly used by municipalities to create partnerships with other public bodies, the private sector, not-for-profit organizations, and First Nations to deliver municipal facilities. Common examples of facilities provided through municipal capital facilities agreements include affordable housing, and recreational or parking facilities.
Assistance from a municipality can include: giving or lending money; giving, leasing or lending property; guaranteeing borrowing; and development charges exemptions. For example, a municipality may consider a partnership with and provide the financial incentives to a not-for-profit organization to provide a small renewable energy facility.
Location: Windsor, Ontario (population: 216,473)
Partnership: The Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Area (DWBIA), the Downtown Residents’ Association (DRA) and the City of Windsor
Tools: Business improvement area, partnerships and volunteers
Context: The 150-year-old farmers’ market was moved from downtown to accommodate a casino expansion. In 2006 the DWBIA undertook a two-year pilot project to bring the market back downtown. Discontinued because of other pressing matters, the DRA revived the concept in 2009 and sought assistance from the city. A partnership soon formed between the DWBIA, the city and the DRA. With seed money, a downtown site, insurance coverage, and a committee of 12 volunteers, recruitment of local farmers took place in co-operation with the local Growers’ Association. Within three months, the market opened from July to October 2009.
- Attendance grew from 650 (average) on any given Saturday to more than 1,000
- Increased interest in downtown shopping and living
- Attraction of American visitors from the nearby casino
- Ways to sustain the market are being examined, including hiring a full-time manager
- In July 2010, an expanded farmers’ market opened for a second season
Contact: Chris Edwards, Executive Director, DWBIA , email@example.com
Municipal and City Services Corporations (s. 203 and O. Reg. 599/06 of Municipal Act, 2001, s. 148 and O.Reg. 609/06 of City of Toronto Act, 2006) – Municipalities may establish a municipal services corporation (MSC) or a city services corporation (CSC) in the City of Toronto, for most services that municipalities could deliver themselves. There are rules and conditions under which these MSCs/CSCs must operate.
The power to create a MSC/CSC cannot be delegated from a municipal council to another body. Municipalities determine if it is the appropriate vehicle for delivering certain types of services and address any related legal or practical issues, such as financing and bonusing.
Municipalities can collect a levy for MSCs/CSCs for defined “economic development services”, including the following:
- promotion of a municipality
- acquisition, development and disposal of sites for residential, industrial, commercial, and institutional purposes
- provision of public transportation systems
- provision of residential housing (including affordable housing)
- provision of general parking facilities
- provision of small business counselling services
- undertaking of community improvement plan activities under the Planning Act
- improvement, beautification and maintenance of municipally-owned land, buildings and structures
- provision of facilities for amusement, conventions, or visitors bureaus
- provision of cultural and heritage systems
Before establishing an MSC/CSC, municipalities must adopt a business case study, with municipal council determining the specifics of its business case. Where asset transfers to MSCs/CSCs are contemplated, municipalities must not only adopt and maintain policies on the proposed transfers, but also notify all provincial ministries that made contributions to the purchase or improvement of those assets.
Despite the general prohibition against bonusing (see p. 10), municipalities may provide assistance to MSCs/CSCs if they are wholly-owned corporations and are limited to providing services to the municipality, or if the cost of public- transportation facilities or services, or public access to recreational and cultural facilities is being subsidized (see ss. 15(1) of O. Reg. 599/06 of Municipal Act and O. Reg. 609/06 of City of Toronto Act). Municipalities may also consider use of tools separate from those in the MSC/CSC regulations, in connection with an MSC or CSC – such as community improvement plans, small business incubators, and agreements to provide municipal capital facilities.
An Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is a name sometimes used for types of MSCs or CSCs. An EDC may be a useful vehicle for promoting economic development through the provision of services such as:
• undertaking marketing to attract tourists
• working with business clients towards expanding the employment base
• providing information, education, and support to business entrepreneurs
EDCs often work closely with real estate and development organizations to address the needs of prospective employers interested in locating in a community. In general, advantages of creating an EDC and MSCs/CSCs may include:
• shared ownership, vision and direction for a particular area, with the private and/or
• private and/or not-for-profit sector investment
• borrowing based on a revenue stream (i.e., through a lease of land)
• alternatives to direct municipal contracts with the private sector for development
Location: Victoria, British Columbia (population: 78,057)
Tool: Property tax exemption program
Tax Incentive Program for Residential Conversions (1998): 10-year property tax exemption for renovating heritage buildings and converting upper-floor spaces to residential use, equal to the cost of required seismic upgrades
Purpose: To renovate 600 living spaces above street-level commercial uses, to earthquake-proof and preserve heritage buildings, and to increase core-area safety and vibrancy through people presence
Some Key Benefits (2009):
- 20 renovated buildings yielded tax assessment increases to $1,428,054 from $1,055,185
- 468 new rental and ownership units available for occupation in August 2009
- Downtown rejuvenation through increase in new residents and tourism
- New downtown amenities - from cafés to culinary stores
Note: there is no parallel tax exemption program in Ontario. What is important are the outcomes being achieved through the use of an incentive tool to guide the retrofitting of existing buildings. See Community Improvement Plans and the Heritage Property Tax Relief Program for Ontario.
Contact: Steve Barber, Senior Heritage Planner, firstname.lastname@example.org
Small Business Programs/Business Incubators (s. 108 of Municipal Act, 2001, s. 84 of City of Toronto Act, 2006) – Small business programs and business incubators represent opportunities for municipal council to encourage the growth of small and medium-sized businesses in their community.
In Ontario, business incubation is a cornerstone strategy for developing, nurturing and growing small businesses. Depending upon the type of incubator, a wide range of services and resources can be offered to support a new business venture, such as mentoring assistance, management assistance, business counselling and advisory services, as well as technical advice, financial advice, training and networking.
Small business program types vary depending on the nature of the local economy, but the main reason for their establishment is to strengthen the local economy with goals such as:
- creating and diversifying jobs
- increasing the odds of success for start-up businesses
- developing and building partnerships (e.g., academic institutions)
- revitalizing neighbourhoods through people and business presence
- commercializing new technologies
- expanding the local tax base and increasing the assessed value of neighbouring properties
Municipal small business programs/business incubators make available for municipalities an exception to the general prohibition against the granting of bonuses by municipalities (see p. 10). The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing now approves the use of a program of municipal financial incentives to commercial entities under a municipal small business program. The City of Toronto’s council can approve the use of financial incentives without ministerial approval.
Brownfields Financial Tax Incentive Program (s. 365.1 of Municipal Act, 2001, s. 333 of City of Toronto Act, 2006) – This program is a provincial initiative to encourage the remediation and redevelopment of brownfields. The program provides school property tax assistance to match municipal property tax assistance for remediating eligible properties. Under the program, the Province can approve a by-law to cancel all or a part of the school portion of property taxes on a property for up to three years.
With information and authorization from property owners, municipalities apply on behalf of property owners. Before receiving consideration for the cancellation of all or part of the school portion of property taxes, municipalities must first put in place a by-law for municipal property tax assistance on qualifying brownfields that are located within a designated community improvement project area.
Exemption, Refund, Reduction of Application Fees (s. 69 of Planning Act) – To encourage desirable land-use development activities, fees related to the processing of planning applications may be waived or reduced by municipalities.
Development Charges By-Law (Development Charges Act, 1997) – Municipalities can collect growth-related development charges in order to recover some or all of the capital costs of municipal infrastructure needed for new development. A development charges by-law can:
• apply to the entire municipality or only part of it to recover growth-related costs
in targeted areas
• phase in development charges to stimulate development
• exempt or reduce development charges for specific types of development (e.g.,
brownfields redevelopment, affordable housing, core-area intensification, industrial
and commercial projects)
Chapter 3: Reflections
As the economic role of “place” gains greater significance, the role of land-use planning for economic development is being reflected in deliberate, placemaking efforts. Using forward-looking planning, design and programming to manage the built environment, municipalities are positioning themselves to attract and retain the people and investments they need to strengthen their economies.
Many factors come into play when shifting from economies in transition to dynamic, sustainable economies. However, much depends on the capacity of municipal council, businesses, stakeholders, and community members to learn, embrace and profit from past experiences so that changes can be made for the future.
Municipalities of all sizes and types can use this practical checklist. It is not an exhaustive list, and some questions are more relevant to some municipalities than to others. These questions can help municipalities reflect on their community assets, priorities, and resources, while considering actions that they might take for economic development, competitiveness and resiliency.
The checklist contains four sections:
1. Economic Development Planning
2. Sustainable Land-Use Planning
3. Your E-Gateway: First Impressions
4. Taking Care of Business
Section 3, Your E-Gateway, takes into account first impressions through the internet, and acknowledges that the importance of place is occurring at a time when digital technology is providing people and businesses with greater freedom to choose where they want to live, work, shop, study, and invest.
“Strong, prosperous local communities will be built by smart,
forward-thinking councils that have the courage to look at big
issues – and sometimes look at them in different ways.”
The Local Food Revolution, One billion reasons to reshape our communities, Gord Hume, p. 107, Municipal World, 2010
- Do you have an economic development plan (EDP)?
- Are there provisions for regular review, update and/or renewal of your EDP?
- Are the values and objectives of your EDP shared, supported and understood by your municipal staff, community members, local businesses, and chambers of commerce, as well as major employers, aboriginal communities, and institutions (e.g., banks, schools, libraries, utilities and transportation providers)?
- Are your EDP’s objectives clearly specified (e.g., business retention, expansion and attraction, downtown/suburban rejuvenation, brownfields redevelopment, diversifying the employment base, retaining and attracting a next-generation workforce)?
- Do your EDP’s objectives play to your community’s strengths?
- Do your time lines or staged-implementation plans reflect the priority assigned to each EDP objective?
- Is your EDP connected to quality-of-place considerations that serve your economic development goals (e.g., safe, people-friendly streets, inviting public places, well-serviced neighbourhoods, cultural-heritage resources, transportation options)?
- Does your EDP connect planning and financial tools to sustainable land-use development activities (e. g., community improvement grant programs for green building development or remediation of brownfields, subdivision review to ensure connected parks, open spaces, and street networks)?
- Does your EDP envision cross-boundary/regional co-ordination and partnerships to pool scarce resources, to generate new ideas, to share tasks and responsibilities, to capitalize on knowledge and experience, to create a larger, asset-based image and to provide a more seamless business environment for potential investors?
- Does your EDP contain a community marketing component that demonstrates readiness for business?
- Is there ongoing collaboration between the various sectors (e.g., municipal departments, economic development corporations, aboriginal communities, local businesses, educational institutions, not-for-profit and volunteer organizations) to ensure effective implementation of your EDP?
- Is there ongoing collaboration between your municipal departments to ensure decision-making is in line with your EDP?
- Does organizational, resource and partnership capacity exist to implement your EDP?
- Have you established a monitoring framework to regularly gauge the effectiveness of your EDP and to make the necessary adjustments?
- Is your official plan up-to-date (e.g., updated at least every five years)?
- Is your official plan consistent with provincial policy statements and does it conform to provincial plans, where applicable?
- Is your comprehensive zoning by-law up-to-date?
- Is your official plan written in plain language that is easily understood by a wide audience?
- Has your municipality considered including visual depictions or illustrations of policies in its official plan or other complementary documents (e.g., zoning by-laws) to reflect where the community is today and where it wants to be in the future (e.g., colour maps, aerial photos, charts, before and after scenarios)?
- Are your official plan policies and land-use designations flexible enough to accommodate most development proposals without the need for plan amendments?
- Does your official plan connect to and reflect the intentions of your EDP?
- Does your official plan link to and align with other plans that your municipality has in place (e.g., community energy plan, transportation master plan, archaeological master plan, food action plan, healthy communities plan, design guidelines, capital and operating budget, social services plan, strategic plan)?
- Have opportunities been considered to co-ordinate and align your policies with other jurisdictions (e.g., municipal, regional, inter-regional, provincial, federal)?
b) The Sustainability Connection
Does your official plan promote a range of sustainable land-use principles that address quality of place, in support of economic development goals? For example:
Connectivity: to facilitate the ease of movement for goods, people and services , to promote proximity, access and connections between different land uses (e.g., employment areas and residential neighbourhoods), to ensure that natural heritage and hydrological systems are maintained and integrated with where people live, and to protect ecosystem services
Concentration of uses: the concentration of land uses for more effective service and infrastructure delivery and to close any gaps that could leave streets with the appearance of lifelessness or of being run down
Density: the number of people, services or jobs per unit area that can foster synergies between people and businesses
Mix of uses: combinations of land uses that produce dynamic, flexible and adaptable neighbourhoods and employment areas
Mobility options and networks: through barrier-free access and a variety of transportion modes to reduce the cost of traffic congestion, to promote inclusiveness, health and cleaner environments, and to decrease reliance on fossil fuels
Street design: the scale and design of sidewalks and roads that present coherent images and identity, create a sense of safety, provide a safe balance of various transportation modes, and through community design solutions that accommodate people of all ages and capabilities
Building design and accessibility: scale and design of buildings relative to the street, neighbourhood or community character, and their potential for adapting to changing population demographics, and for reducing environmental footprints
Green infrastructure (natural and engineered): to improve energy efficiency and supply, to promote groundwater recharge, to reduce stormwater run off, and to allow for water recovery, as well as to mitigate climate change impacts, to protect the natural environment, to support biodiversity and wildlife habitat, and to maintain ecosystem services
Does your official plan connect sustainable development to economic development through policies that make the connection between a sustainable built environment and the economy? For example:
Local resources protection: includes natural heritage, cultural heritage, and agricultural resources
Transit: identified nodes and corridors accompanied by supporting concentrations of mixed land uses and densities, reduced parking requirements, and linkages between different modes of transportation
Redevelopment: use and reuse of lands, buildings and infrastructure within identified settlement areas and boundaries, including the remediation and redevelopment of former industrial, commercial and institutional lands (also known as brownfields, greyfields and bluefields)
Settlement boundary policies: focused population within identified settlement boundaries to manage growth and development, and to protect rural and agricultural areas
- As part of a development review process, have you considered an evaluation system that includes sustainability-related components? For example:
- Land-Use Standards that achieve safe, attractive, pedestrian-friendly and well-serviced neighbourhoods (e.g., range of housing types, nearby services, access to healthy foods and green space, transportation options that reduce single-occupant vehicle trips, cultural-heritage protection/enhancements, and infill development)
- Building Design that takes into account reductions in energy use, mitigation of heat-island effects, more healthy live/work environments through good air quality and natural lighting, visual appeal through scale and external building design, potential for adaptability to future new uses and live/work accommodation
- Construction Waste Reduction, Reuse and Recycling through good environmental management practices
- Lower-Impact Development to add value to the built environment and to reduce long-term public and private costs by not fragmenting green spaces, by protecting biodiversity and wildlife habitat, by preserving ecosystem services, and by employing techniques to deal with stormwater – including infiltration basins, porous pavements, and greenroofs, as well as the siting of buildings, taking into account weather conditions and solar benefits
- On-Site Renewable Energy generation and recovery such as solar power and geothermal or district energy systems
- Community Design Solutions (also known as alternative design or engineering and development standards) that enhance the liveability of communities, nurture a sense of place and community pride, improve cost efficiency and support sustainability, as well as reflecting context-sensitive design, subject to factors such as health and safety and ease of implementation
c) Augmenting Your Municipal Tool Kit
Does your official plan contain provisions for planning tools that can support economic development? For example:
Planning tools requiring official plan provisions for their use:
- Site Plan Control by-law that includes building exterior design standards
- Development Permit System to provide development certainty and to streamline the planning review process
- Height and Density by-law in exchange for municipally-specified public benefits
- Employment Lands Protection to maintain an adequate supply of areas of employment
- Reduction of Cash In Lieu of Parkland in exchange for sustainability features
Planning tools that do not require official plan provisions for their use:
Minimum and Maximum zoning by-law standards to regulate building heights and density
Plan of Subdivision review for land-use sustainability components
Zoning By-laws for a range and mix of land uses and for infill and compact development
Reduction or Exemption from Parking Agreements to reduce requirements or exempt a building owner or occupant from providing and maintaining parking facilities
Does your official plan contain provisions for financial tools that can support economic development? For example:
Financial tools requiring official plan provisions for their use:
- Community Improvement Plans to stimulate specified types of development that attract and support businesses
Financial tools that do not require official plan provisions for their use:
General Power to Make Grants
Planning Application Fee Exemptions, Refund and Reduction which may encourage desirable land-use development activities
Business Improvement Areas which may attract and support businesses while improving the quality of life in and around designated areas
Heritage Property Tax Relief Program which may support the preservation and adaptive reuse of a community’s built heritage
Municipal Capital Facilities Agreements which may create partnerships that result in the delivery of municipal facilities and services
Municipal or City Services Corporations which may provide economic development services
Small Business Programs/Business Incubators which may nurture and grow small and medium-sized businesses
Brownfields Financial Tax Incentive Program which may stimulate remediation and redevelopment of brownfields
Development Charges By-Law which may recover, reduce or exempt growth-related development charges
Do you use an integrated planning approach in your consultation processes (bottom up, collaborative, transparent and inclusive)?
Have you incorporated architectural/design skills into your land-use planning and design practices?
Have you considered implementing a design review panel to provide advice on sustainable design excellence for private and public projects that impact the public realm?
Do your municipal staff (e.g., planners, engineers, parks and recreation) work together to develop community design solutions that allow for innovative and context-sensitive responses, while meeting minimum performance objectives such as health and safety?
Does your website address make it easy for people to find your site (e.g., www.municipalname.ca)?
Is your economic development contact person/information easy to locate on your website (i.e., almost immediately)?
Do you have complete contact information for people and/or businesses (i.e., name of representatives, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, mailing/street addresses)?
Would website visitors be able to find resources/documents with ease (e.g., strategic plan, EDP, official plan, zoning by-laws, development permit by-law, incentive programs, inventories of commercial and industrial land and buildings, licensing/permitting information, local data)?
How accessible is your website (e.g., scaleable font sizes, languages targeted to specific audiences, alternative formats for people with vision difficulties)?
b) Marketing: Is It Effective?
What can visitors learn about your community (e.g., information about the community/region, doing business, quality of life features, and living in the community)?
Does your website articulate a coherent community/regional vision?
Does your website target specific audiences as part of your economic development strategy – including potential incoming industries (domestic and overseas), existing firms for retention and expansion, talented workers and their families?
Do you highlight your community’s competitive strengths (e.g., health care, education, housing prices, entertainment venues/arts and culture, the natural environment, built heritage, friendly and inclusive community, incentive programs, business clusters)?
Does your website contain detailed site-selection facts for potential investors? For example:
Available Land and Buildings: location, property information, leasing details, property price
Infrastructure: water, wastewater, electricity
Labour Force: labour force information and statistics
Population: community and region
Transportation Network: roads, rail, transit, airports
Municipal Services: health care, wastewater management, immigrant relocation and assistance
Taxation: commercial, industrial and residential tax rates
Incentives: community improvement plan grant or loan programs, fee reductions and waivers, development charges reduction
Business Services: small business programs, business incubators, networking opportunities
Can visitors download consolidated information related to each property (land or building) listed in your site inventory (e.g., address, property type and size, leasing/purchase-price details, description of property, land-use designations, taxes)?
Does your website demonstrate an ongoing commitment to sustainability (e.g., healthy community strategy, green building program, waste diversion and reduction practices for households and businesses, active transportation program for school children, sustainable municipal procurement practices)?
Does your website contain up-to-date personal touches (e.g., local business success stories, Mayor’s message, photo gallery, testimonials, videocasts)?
Have you linked your website to key provincial and federal government websites that are marketed abroad, to achieve global exposure?
Does your website demonstrate your community’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion in terms of accessibility, seniors, children, gender and culture?
c) Performance: Does It Function As It Should?
Does your website function well as an easy entry point to your community?
Through design and writing, does your website appear consistent, regardless of topic area?
Does your website contain links to and from other online resources and business networks (e.g., local and regional business associations, other levels of government, BizPal national online permit/licensing service, mapping sites)?
Does your website serve the economic development objectives set out in your EDP?
Is your website part of a regional, collaborative approach to marketing (i.e., to avoid intra-regional competition over the same asset and to showcase a larger asset-based image)?
Do you have designated people or a centre that is capable of responding quickly to business investment, land-use development and relocation inquiries?
Do you manage the content of your system to ensure your website information is continually updated (e.g., photo gallery, investment highlights, contact information)?
Are you using other marketing techniques to augment your website and to increase your community’s global exposure (e.g., events, brochures, e-mailing campaigns, newspaper ads, social media, conference booths, business-networking connections)?
Can website visitors obtain print-friendly versions of your web pages and documents?
For information exchange, does your website contain e-mail links and access to social media marketing applications (bookmarking, social networks and other content-sharing tools)?
Does your website contain online forms that can be filled out and submitted electronically (e.g., application forms for your incentive programs)?
Do the EDP and official plan form part of your municipality’s overall strategic plan, which is intended to align all municipal functions and operations, as well as other plans for your community?
Have you considered creating a multi-sector working committee to provide input for the ongoing implementation and co-ordination of your EDP and official plan?
Have you considered creating a multi-sector “ambassador group” who can meet with potential investors?
Have you determined where there may be impediments to business and land-use development?
In co-operative arrangements such as joint municipal or regional economic development initiatives, have protocols or terms of reference been established that set out expectations (e.g., roles, responsibilities, targets, funding, reporting requirements)?
Have protocols/processes been established for regular contact with local and regional businesses to gather information and exchange ideas on potential needs and improvements?
Have you included aboriginal communities as part of your consultation or engagement activities?
Is there a hosting committee to welcome and provide relocation information or assistance to immigrants/new arrivals to your area?
Do you monitor for external programs, services and funding that can support your economic development goals?
Do you monitor your policies, programs, incentives, administrative procedures and practices to see if they are having the desired effect?
Do you maintain a current Invest in Ontario community profile on the website www.investinontario.com?
Have you linked your community website to your Invest in Ontario community profile to increase your international exposure?
Do you update your Ontario community profile at www.investinontario.com with your most current information, which is used by the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade for Select Ontario, a web-based site selection tool for potential investors?
Does your municipality carry membership with private sector and not-for-profit organizations who have economic development mandates, to obtain information and opportunities for partnerships and networking, and for sharing best practices?
Does municipal staff from your various departments have access to information from the economic development organizations in which you have membership?
“A rising tide may lift all boats, but prosperity shouldn’t have to depend on the ebb and flow of the global economy.”
Ontario Competes: Performance Overview Using the 3Ts, Economic Development, April 2009, Martin Prosperity Institute, REF.2009-BMONT-001
Chapter 4: Charting the Future
This chapter contains innovative Canadian case studies. Each of them is unique, yet they share certain commonalities, such as competing in a globalized marketplace and the need for lower-impact and more value-added land and building development. More importantly, they reflect a broader trend towards strategic, long-term thinking and partnership-based initiatives. By involving different sectors, jurisdictions and levels of government, municipalities are demonstrating that they can achieve economies of scale, can access larger pools of capital, can gather higher levels of technical expertise, and can share resources, experience, knowledge and responsibilities.
These case studies represent a variety of sustainable development approaches, including those that make use of planning and financial tools. Each case study provides insight into how different approaches can be used to learn, change and strategically leverage local and regional assets to their greatest social, cultural, environmental and economic advantage.
There is no single method, tool or off-the-shelf solution that can successfully create, retain or enhance a competitive edge through the built environment. As such, multi-faceted approaches are used by all jurisdictions to meet their economic development goals.
Thinking Partnerships, Thinking Regionally, Thinking Long-Term...
A. Community Renaissance: Partnerships, Cornwall, Ontario
B. GIS: Northern Economic Space, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
C. Global Communications: Rural Connections, Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia
D. Green Hub: Reframing Business, City of Kawartha Lakes, Ontario
E. Heritage: A Sustained Development Strategy, St. John’s, Newfoundland
F. One Team, Infinite Solutions: Development Permit System, Carleton Place, Ontario
G. PARC: An Intra-Regional Co-operative Model, Parkland Region, Manitoba
H. Placemaking: A Cultural Shift, London, Ontario
I. Project Green: Retrofitting for the Future, Greater Toronto Area, Ontario
J. ROI: New Economic Growth, Waterloo Region, Ontario
K. Food Planning: Setting the Main Course, Niagara Region, Ontario
“The longer unsustainable practices continue, the greater the threats to the essential foundations of our economy.”
Macrowikinomics: rebooting business and the world, pp. 35-36
Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams, 2010
Portfolio Penguin, Penguin Group (USA) Inc., New York, New York
Cornwall, Ontario (population: 45,965)
Key Tools/Approaches: Partnerships, community improvement programs, housing renewal
Catalyst: Global economic change and marketplace shifts triggered an erosion of Cornwall’s century-old industrial sector in the early 1990s. Ensuing plant shut downs brought growing socio-economic hardships, with impacts felt keenly by those living and working in the east-end district of Le Village, adjacent to the industrialized area. High unemployment, low incomes, deteriorating housing, substandard infrastructure, limited park space and poor commercial viability redefined this once prosperous and stable neighbourhood. To counter the decline, a grass-roots movement grew in 1998, led by representatives of the Le Village Business Improvement Area, Nativité Parish and Caisse Populaire de Cornwall. From this emerged a successful, community-supported, not-for-profit organization called Groupe Renaissance Group. As Le Village’s economic transformation began, more community-based groups came together (e.g., Heart of the City, Team Cornwall, Chambers of Commerce, Cornwall Economic Development) to address other city-wide economic issues. This movement was fuelled by businesses, not-for-profit organizations, volunteers, the municipal sector and others too numerous to list. Incorporating a multi-faceted community approach to economic development, success is being achieved through common goals: creation of a diversified economy, making the city a great place to do business, attracting skilled workers and their families, and delivering timely information on investment opportunities.
- reduction of unemployment rate from double-digits to 5 per cent in 10 years
- increase in tax base as a result of new development
- core area and waterfront revitalization through upgrading of the main street commercial area (e.g., retail façade and park improvements, signage, infill, historical building conservation, brownfields remediation and redevelopment)
- renewal of Le Village through housing upgrades, retrofitting of a cotton mill, clean up and redevelopment of contaminated industrial lands, restoration of prime real estate along the St. Lawrence River, improved recreational and green spaces, addition of new multi-storey housing
- community improvement grant programs for developers to offset environmental assessment costs, tipping fees and other costs
- tool kit providing a single source of information and resources to property owners, prospective owners and developers
- increase in business relocation and entrepreneurship
- nurturing of a growing green-technology sector
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario (population: 74,948)
Key Tools/Approaches: Community-based geographic information system, information sharing
Catalyst: Algoma Steel’s downsizing in the 1990s prompted community leaders to examine ways to diversify the economy. The Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (SSMIC) was created in 1999 to serve as a catalyst for regional economic growth in information technology and knowledge-based industries. Operating as a not-for-profit, public-service organization, SSMIC carved out a niche as an information leader and pioneer in sharing, integrating and analysing public information and spatial data. Its award-winning Community Information Utility (CIU) includes one of the world’s most comprehensive, community-based geographic information system (GIS), comprised of over 60 community partners (municipal government, utilities, health, social services, education, emergency response and economic development agencies) and thousands of data layers that support, among other things, community planning, development, and investment decisions. The CIU is a powerful tool, used to advance community quality of life and to strengthen the economy by growing existing businesses, attracting skilled workers and new investment, and improving information exchange, collaborative decision-making and government service delivery.
- Municipal: development of an integrated multi-enterprise GIS solution to facilitate effective asset management, to improve decision-making and to leverage public data to improve service delivery
- Economic development: identifying opportunities and providing information to prospective businesses seeking to locate in the area, with faster, more detailed, and more accurate responses, in terms of site selection specifications (e.g., location of land suitable for solar farm development)
- Transportation: creation of a transportation model that integrates all transportation-related features to enable routing, traffic planning and transportation asset management in support of applications such as prioritizing sidewalk sanding, curb ramping, and implementing audible pedestrian crosswalks
- Health and Human Services: combined information about public health, social services, public utilities and municipal data to protect vulnerable citizens in emergency management situations, to mitigate risks related to lead in drinking water and to infectious disease, and to optimize service accessibility
- Education: improving the planning capacity of school boards by helping them to better understand enrolment projections
Contact: Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre ▌Telephone: (705) 942-6938 x25 ▌www.ssmic.com/GIS
Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia (population: 735)
Key Tools/Approaches: High-speed communications technology
Catalyst: The Village of Radium Hot Springs has cutting-edge communications technology. In 2007, Nanofibre Networks Inc. proceeded with plans that originated at the municipal level, to construct an open-access fibre-optic communications network to service residents and businesses while attracting and retaining knowledge-based workers and young families wishing to combine a rural, mountain lifestyle with first-class communication capabilities. Launched in May 2008, the open-access network has nearly limitless potential for high-speed data transmission. With the existing fibres, there is capacity to service 10,000 homes and businesses. The system is now extended to Invermere, Athalmer, Spirits Reach, Columbia Ridge, Copper Point subdivision, Spur Valley, and Pedley Heights – all located along a 140-kilometre, north-south fibre backbone between Canal Flats and Spillimacheen, British Columbia. Using communications as its basis for social change and economic diversification, Radium Hot Springs is addressing the rural/urban communications divide and positioning itself to attract business investment and talented workers and their families.
- approximately 20 per cent of the village is being serviced by the open access network
- positive economic impacts include an increase in families moving to Radium Hot Springs (e.g., graphic designers), improved retention of residents and businesses, and economic diversification into industries requiring high-speed data-transmission capabilities
- additional benefits include a reduction in greenhouse gases through telecommuting, profits from the communication network, and opportunities for new, locally-derived applications
- current services include Internet and VOIP with applications such as telemedicine, real-time video conferencing, distance education, home security monitoring, and remote data storage
- plans are underway to roll out additional applications such as high-definition TV and video on demand, to increase the take-up of fibre service by businesses and residents, and to construct a fibre backbone to Golden, British Columbia, to access additional fibre pipelines
Contact: Village of Radium Hot Springs ▌Telephone: (250) 347-6455 ▌www.radiumhotsprings.ca
City of Kawartha Lakes, Ontario (population: 74,561)
Key Tools/Approaches: Community improvement incentive programs, development charges exemptions/reductions, partnerships
Catalyst: The Green Hub community improvement plan (CIP) is based on the City of Kawartha Lakes’ 2007 Community Economic Development Mission and its Environment First Principle – which recognizes that “the environment is the base upon which all planning activities take place and that it must be considered in all planning, decisions.” By linking long-term economic well-being with environmental quality, land use and green-industry activities, the local economy is being repositioned for emerging innovative markets in green industry and renewable energy. To attract investment and knowledge workers, the CIP is also a tool for stimulating (re)development activities that improve the quality and appearance of lands and buildings. Working with higher-education partners to encourage incubator industries in environmentally significant activities such as green technologies, services and products, the CIP’s objectives include the retention of recent graduates, employment creation, and enhanced quality of community life through the upgrade and remediation of older neighbourhoods, recreational and industrial areas, and commercial centres. The CIP also provides for rural and agricultural assistance that meets its objectives for green activities and renewable energy. Accompanied by a detailed short-term to long-term Municipal Leadership Strategy Program, the City of Kawartha Lakes is providing proactive and visible leadership, co-ordination and support needed to effectively implement its new economic development strategy.
- Municipal Leadership Strategy that supports the repositioning of the city as a centre for green employment and development
- (e.g., establishing a CIP Review Panel and marketing strategy)
- financial-incentive programs, including a tax increment-equivalent grant program for green development, a program to exempt/reduce development charges for green employment initiatives, a financial-assistance program for brownfield redevelopment, and a green innovation grant program
- data collection to establish baseline information for determining whether goals are being met
- establishment of resource networks and partnerships to further the goal of creating a green development and technologies centre (e.g., Sir Sandford Fleming College, Chambers of Commerce, Kawartha Lakes Community Futures Development Corporation)
- dedicated staff resources to facilitate the uptake of the incentive programs and to ensure an effective review and approval process
Contact: City of Kawartha Lakes ▌Telephone: (705) 324-9411 ▌www.city.kawarthalakes.on.ca
St. John’s, Newfoundland (population: 100,646)
Key Tools/Approaches: Long-term heritage planning, inter-departmental co-operation and co-ordination
Catalyst: In the 1970s, during a period of low to no growth, St. John’s set out to preserve its downtown heritage – the built environment, culture and townscape fabric – and to set the stage for sustained economic development that capitalized on its unique “edge” within a marketplace that was becoming increasingly globalized. By bringing together heritage preservation and the economy, the city positioned itself to nurture investor confidence and to create a people-first community. Based on the rationale that value lay in using existing buildings to their fullest potential, Canada’s first major heritage district was created in 1977, followed by design guidelines encouraging the sensible renovation of downtown properties. A lively colour palette, typical of traditional Newfoundland low-rise buildings, gradually emerged. In the 1990s, off-shore oil activity raised concerns that development demands would overrun the heritage area. To balance new construction and heritage preservation, the city’s Downtown Strategy articulated a vision based on rehabilitating buildings, some conversions, and new development through well-designed infill. Municipal leadership and consistent inter-departmental communications and co-ordination (e.g., planning, tourism and economic development) continue to be at the heart of this strategy. Today, this port city, with its 271 hectares (670 acres) of heritage area, has one of the most vibrant downtowns of any Canadian city of comparable size.
- from 1986-2001, owners invested about $72 million in property renovations, in addition to the city’s $10 million heritage investment in 2000
- film industry production expenditures (1995–2005) attributable to the downtown area’s civic amenity were about $13.5 million and an estimated $11 million in economic spin off for the filming of CBC’s one-hour television series, Republic of Doyle
- a majority of the city’s 655 workers in the arts and cultural sector live and work downtown, contributing $2.4 million to the economy annually
- rehabilitation and reuse of heritage buildings reduce construction materials being sent to the landfill
- greater downtown residential property values increased by over 14 per cent to $238 million, between the 1999 and 2002 assessment period
- annual out-of-province visitors increased 16 per cent over a five-year period, to 357,270 in 2008 from 309,121 in 2003, while tourism expenditures increased 28 per cent, to $201.5 million in 2008 from $157.9 million in 2003
- approximately 200 local-level jobs are supported by basic heritage-related work
- follow-up and supporting studies and strategies include St. John’s Heritage Areas, Heritage Buildings and Public Views, 2003, The Battery Development Guidelines Study, 2004, Quidi Vidi Village Development Plan, 2006, George Street Redevelopment Study, 2007, and the Municipal Arts Plan, Planning for a Creative Future, 2009
- Awards and recognition: Construction Canada (2002), Canadian Institute of Planners Award for Planning Excellence (2002), Heritage Canada Foundation’s Prince of Wales Prize for Municipal Heritage Leadership (2007), and selection as the Cultural Capital of Canada (2006)
Carleton Place, Ontario (population: 9,453)
Key Tools/Approaches: Development permit system
Catalyst: In June 2008, municipal council for the Town of Carleton Place ushered in Ontario’s first Development Permit System (DPS) under the 2007 Planning Act amendments. In doing so, a multi-layered development-approval process was replaced by a single, clearly articulated and co-ordinated development process that combines zoning, site plan control and minor variances. This shift in approach has sped up development review and approval times within a framework that provides more flexibility and clarity in design and development standards. Not only has more certainty been created for development investment, but capacity has been expanded to implement sustainability goals that include: preserving and enhancing the town’s small-town historic character; upgrading the appearance of its central business district; influencing site and building design; and, increasing building density through the establishment of zero building setbacks and minimum/maximum building heights.
- Efficient Approval Times: for example, a minor variance to bring an existing building into conformity used to take two to three months to review and process – now takes about one week
- Flexibility and Clarity: upfront planning and design requirements through a clearly articulated, user-friendly, visual and written development permit by-law
- Certainty: upfront development rules and removal of third-party appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board
- Comprehensive and Effective Evaluation Procedures: reduced development application processing times because all the information needed to evaluate an application is submitted with an application (i.e., complete application requirements)
- emergence of varied streetscapes based on flexible front yard provisions
- positive reception from property owners and developers because of reduced municipal planning and review time frames – for example, the timely processing of minor variance applications allows for the completion of projects within a building season
Contact: Town of Carleton Place, Planning Department ▌Telephone: (613) 257-6204 ▌www.carletonplace.ca
Parkland Region, Manitoba (population: 40,000)
Key Tools/Approaches: Intra-regional co-operative model, partnerships
Catalyst: With a history of co-operation on resource-based initiatives, nine municipalities in Manitoba’s Parkland region incorporated as the Parkland Agricultural Resource Co-op (PARC) in 2001. Using a co-operative model, PARC placed economic development for healthy, sustainable communities on an intra-regional footing, enabling the pooling of resources and expertise in order to be ready for investment. Key goals include maximizing sustained returns from agriculture, natural resources, industrial technology and research and development. PARC works together to build regional capacity, to protect the integrity of its rural communities, to share ideas, to problem-solve on municipal issues, to attract investment and skilled workers/families, to achieve economies of scale, and to facilitate regional socio-economic health. Through the positioning and promotion of resources and life-style assets, PARC members connect their communities to opportunities and seamless support to leverage their combined resources and essential services.
- commercial tax-sharing agreement that allows PARC members to share development benefits
- registered with BizPal, a national online, one-window tool to facilitate business access to regulatory information
- a first-of-its-kind study on child-care services and early childhood development as a key component of economic development
- qualified to use the Canada Brand to market high-quality food and agricultural products
- partnership with community stakeholders to complete a regional growth strategy and branding project
- marketing brochures containing community fact sheets and life-style information
- land-inventory listing of pre-qualified commercial and industrial properties in the region
- well-developed resource network that includes the provincial and federal governments
- continuing work related to strategic partnering with farmer programs, to augmenting the region’s skilled workforce, to “smart” planning of communities and infrastructure (e.g., global connections via fibre optics, high-speed communications) for economic, social and environmental viability, and to seeking new opportunities in non-traditional crop markets, renewable resources and green-related technologies
Contact: Parkland Agricultural Resource Co-op ▌Telephone: (204) 546-2915 ▌www.parklandmanitoba.ca
London, Ontario (population: 352,395)
Key Tools/Approaches: Placemaking guidelines, imbedding urban design into land-use planning
Catalyst: In late 2008, London City Council adopted its Placemaking Guidelines. In the long term, the role of the city’s placemaking design guidelines is to act as one of the city’s economic drivers in attracting and retaining business investment, managing population growth, and accommodating skilled workers and their families in quality suburban neighbourhoods that are characterized by sustainability. This shift in culture marked a departure from creating suburbs where cars live, to designing quality places where people live. Council’s decision aligns with international placemaking trends to turn community assets into destinations for investment and more sustainable development.
- program profile raised through the addition of a subdivision/neighbourhood-design category to London’s Urban Design Awards program, extensive media coverage, and high-profile keynote speakers
- increased public awareness and understanding of quality city building through an extensive consultation/engagement process that included placemaking think-tank sessions
- an addition to an existing suite of strategic tools and programs that promote creative, engaging, attractive and sustainable physical environments (e.g., the London Energy Efficiency Partnership Project for enhanced energy performance of homes, and community improvement incentive programs to stimulate the revitalization of targeted areas)
- placemaking principles through building forms and community-energy systems that support the London Economic Development Corporation’s goal of growing and retaining business and the city’s overall goal of attracting and retaining skilled workers and their families – for example, walkability, transit usability, green roof and renewable energy opportunities, tree plantings and increased density
- urban design is now a permanent feature of London’s planning activities
- continued work on developing the parameters of the Placemaking Guidelines and accompanying regulations
Contact: City of London ▌Telephone: (519) 661-4500 ▌www.london.ca
Greater Toronto Area, Ontario (project area: 12,000 ha.)
Key Tools/Approaches: Partnerships, networking, peer-to-peer learning, green program initiatives
Catalyst: The Partners in Project Green initiative represents a growing community of businesses working towards greening their bottom line by transforming the area around the Toronto Pearson International Airport into an eco-business zone. This employment district consists of about 12,500 existing businesses and 355,000 employees, with a majority of people working for medium-sized businesses (100-300 people). Geographically, the Pearson Eco-Business Zone includes the Toronto International Airport and portions of the Region of Peel and the cities of Toronto, Mississauga and Brampton – all of which have committed to multi-year funding. With an estimated total annual electricity use of close to 5.8 million MWh, natural-gas consumption of about 46 million GJ, and water use of approximately 109 million m3, this area represents enormous opportunities for conservation and achieving a competitive advantage through sustainable business practices, and collaborative partnerships between local businesses, governments, and communities.
- businesses with completed energy and environment projects include: Unilever, Bayer Inc., Woodbine Entertainment Group, Oxford Properties, Coca-Cola Bottling Co., Park-Pak, Bison Transport, Velcro Canada, Lange Transportation, and Molson
- programs to achieve results faster and with less costs, include: an Eco-Efficiency Program (free assessments to identify energy, water and waste reduction potential), a Green Parking Lot Program (to help in designing parking lots with green elements), a Sustainable Energy Planning Program (to develop and implement energy plans to reduce resource costs), a Green Purchasing Block Program (to increase capacity for purchasing green technologies at reduced prices), a By-Product Exchange (networks and marketplaces for trading resources and waste by-products), a Green Site Initiative (support for addressing land-use challenges and to better integrate the natural environment), and regular education and networking opportunities
- operational savings example – Lange Transportation eliminated its natural-gas bill ($60,000/yr) and halved its electricity costs through a building retrofit for geothermal heating and cooling, and by upgrading lighting systems with new lights and solar tubes
- continued efforts to increase partnerships and synergies, to advance peer-to-peer learning, and to promote sustainable business practices
- on-line resources to help businesses realize sustainability benefits (e.g., financial assistance, best practice database, green business directory, green business tools, regulatory blog, and Partners in Green Reports)
Waterloo Region, Ontario (regional population: 478,121)
Key Tools/Approaches: Community improvement grant and fee-incentive programs, development charges exemptions
Catalyst: ROI means Revitalization, Opportunity and Investment in Waterloo Region. By cleaning up and redeveloping environmentally-compromised properties, lands can be returned to productive use and can serve as catalysts for further development in surrounding areas. To stimulate private-sector investment in remediation and redevelopment activities, the region and area municipalities offer brownfields programs that result in focussing population growth and redevelopment in existing built-up areas. In planning and designing for these recovered lands, objectives include: balancing economics, the environment, transportation and quality urban living through good design, green spaces, walking and cycling options and mixed land uses. Some programs offer hands-on staff guidance for developers and timely planning processes, while others provide incentives such as reduced or waived fees for development applications and building permits, grants for phase II environmental site assessment, exemptions from development charges, and regional participation in joint tax increment-based grant programs for community improvement by the cities of Kitchener and Cambridge. The end goal for the region and area municipalities is to achieve another kind of ROI – return on investment – that garners sustainable community benefits for generations to come.
- creation of a Brownfields Working Group (2008) composed of the region and its seven local governments to co-ordinate, administer, market, improve and monitor the incentive programs, and to provide a forum to discuss brownfields opportunities and challenges
- grants for six regional phase II environmental site assessments in the first two years of the program, totalling $201,250 and resulting in additional groundwater information related to about 20 acres of contaminated land in the region; planned development includes a mix of multi-unit residential, commercial and open spaces
- regional development charges exemptions – a 10-acre former foundry site, proposed to be developed into 82 townhouses and 111 apartment units, and a six-acre vacant site proposed for commercial uses
- joint community improvement tax increment-based grant in Kitchener for a four-acre former industrial tanning manufacturing site, now being developed into 330,000 sq. ft. of recreational, commercial, manufacturing and warehouse space that will result in approximately $600,000/year of additional municipal taxes
- townships of North Dumfries, Wellesley, Wilmot and Woolwich and the City of Waterloo are investigating opportunities to implement community improvement plans that include joint tax increment-based grant programs
Contact: Region of Waterloo, Brownfields Coordinator ▌Telephone: (519) 575-4500 x 3113 ▌www.region.waterloo.on.ca/brownfields
Niagara Region, Ontario (population: 427,421)
Key Tools/Approaches: Local food action planning, partnerships
Catalyst: Environmental awareness, rising transportation costs, agriculturally-related plant closures, and the need for increased food access and security launched Niagara Region’s Local Food Action Plan, 2008 (LFAP). Building on four decades of policy support for regional agriculture, including strong urban boundary policies, the region’s local- food initiative is a long-term strategic action plan for reinvigorating and strengthening the region’s economic resiliency by creating a predictable market for producers, by broadening the food-knowledge base through education and information for producers and consumers, and by enhancing the region’s wine and culinary tourism.
- increased public awareness around buying local through support for marketing efforts
- preparation of land-use policies to support additional value-added farm activities
- consultation process that built upon and created partnerships among producers, distributors, processors and institutions (e.g., the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, the Niagara Culinary Trail, and the Niagara Local Food Cooperative)
- support for efforts to broaden Local Food Plus, an award-winning not-for-profit organization that nurtures regional food economies by certifying farmers and processors for local sustainable food production and helping them connect with buyers of all types and sizes
- continued investigation into the feasibility of a distribution centre in the Niagara/Hamilton area, in partnership with the City of Hamilton and the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation
- working with stakeholders and partners to implement LFAP goals, that include creating market predictability and raising awareness and support for the local-food initiative
- an on-line Local Food Network Card (Niagara Region website) comprised of producers, distributors, academics, government employees and volunteers, to assist with research, promotion, and development
Contact: Niagara Region ▌Telephone: (905) 685-1571 ▌www.niagararegion.ca
The Interministry Community Development Initiative is a “one-table” coordinating approach across provincial ministries to provide communities and industries with timely access to provincial economic policies, programs and services. Five regional, multi-ministry Provincial Economic Transformation Teams (PETTs) have been established to provide integrated services to communities on economic development matters involving multiple provincial ministries.
Web Page: ontario.ca/mah
Provincial Planning Policy Branch
Municipal Finance Policy Branch
777 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario M5G 2E5
Municipal Services Offices
(416) 585-6226 or 1-800-668-0230
(519) 873-4020 or 1-800-265-4736
(613) 545-2100 or 1-800-267-9438
(705) 564-0120 or 1-800-461-1193
Northwest (Thunder Bay)
(807) 475-1651 or 1-800-465-5027
Produced by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Provincial Planning Policy Branch
© Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2011
Disponible en français sous le titre Mécanismes d’aménagement et leviers financiers pour le développement économique des municipalités