The Toronto region faces two crises. We are grappling with a rapidly growing population and nowhere near enough homes, while at the same time there is a dire shortage of suitable space for business growth, particularly when it comes to manufacturing, logistics, and other critical industries. Employment lands, which offer provincial and municipal protections for these industries, are zoned solely for industrial, commercial, institutional, and office uses. These lands are a key driver of our economy, housing over 1.5M jobs, and a whopping 88% of the high-paying manufacturing jobs in the region.
Recent regulatory changes significantly weaken protections for these critical employment lands, as identified in the report. In order to safeguard our employment lands, it is imperative that we first ensure the necessary policy and regulatory protections are in place. These could include steps like formalizing buffer and transition zones for industrial lands, which protect residential neighbourhoods. Secondly, a regional inventory of employment lands could be created as the foundation of a comprehensive employment and industrial lands strategy. Furthermore, a holistic decision-making process should be implemented to rigorously analyze the cumulative economic impact of conversion proposals, and identify where housing can strategically be located on employment lands.
Securing our employment lands is vital to our region’s economic future. When the lands are gone, so are the jobs and our region’s competitiveness and prosperity.