Transit-Supportive Guidelines

Section 1.1 Community Structure

1.1.1 Settlement Areas

Settlement areas should be planned with an overall structure that is supportive of transit. This includes identifying places suitable for growth through the use of urban boundaries to promote intensification and linking built form and land use patterns to transit infrastructure.

Settlement areas are composed of built-up areas and lands planned for future growth. They are not homogenous environments, but rather a collection of distinct places, each with a unique role to play in supporting transit. By structuring settlement areas into distinct elements – nodes, corridors, built-up areas, and designated growth areas – growth can be directed to support the clustering of uses and activities and enable the creation of a more efficient transit network.

Achieving a transit-supportive development pattern within settlement areas can be assisted through the use of urban boundaries. These help provide clarity as to where future growth should occur and prevent unabated sprawl by encouraging more compact development patterns. They can also reduce land speculation in rural areas and provide impetus for the careful planning of new communities.

Regional and municipal official plans should designate urban boundaries in order to concentrate development within settlement areas.

Regional and municipal official plans should designate urban boundaries in order to concentrate development within settlement areas.

Strategies Legend
Applicable Community Scale
Small Community icon Small
Mid-size Community icon Mid-size
Large Community icon Large
Big City icon Big City
Planning Scale
Site Planning icon Site
District Planning icon District
Municipal Planning icon Municipal
Regional Planning icon Regional
Green Action icon Green Action

Strategies:

managing growth

  1. Contain new growth within settlement areas to strengthen and diversify existing urban and rural centres and encourage more transit-supportive development patterns.Municipal Planning iconRegional Planning icon
  2. Official plans should designate urban boundaries around settlement areas in order to concentrate development and avoid uncontrolled rural and suburban sprawl.Municipal Planning iconRegional Planning icon
  3. Urban boundaries should include a supply of land for up to 20 years. This supply should be composed of a mix of infill and intensification sites found within existing built-up areas and if necessary greenfield lands located within designated growth areas.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon
  4. The calculation of the amount of land required within urban boundaries should be based on densities that are sufficient to support transit operations (Guideline 1.1.3).Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon
  5. Official plans should establish policies around the appropriate sequencing of new development within designated growth areas to ensure that new development is contiguous with existing built-up areas (Guideline 1.1.5). Regions and municipalities should focus development by prioritizing infill and intensification over the development of designated growth areas.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon
  6. Ensure that appropriate zoning and the basic infrastructure of social and hard services (water, sewer etc.) is in place so that intensification is possible at a rate sufficient to meet market demand.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon
  7. Regularly reassess the amount of land designated for urban development within an urban boundary. The assessment should review development trends to evaluate the effectiveness of the boundary in containing growth and determine the extent to which new development is approaching the target densities required to support transit ridership or as outlined within the municipality’s Official Plan.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon
  8. The expansion of a settlement boundary and the designation of additional land for development may only be permitted through a comprehensive review and should only occur where it has been demonstrated that densities in existing urban areas are approaching the target levels established within the Official Plans (Guideline 1.1.7). If urban boundaries are expanded before planned higher-density nodes and corridors begin to intensify, it will increase the cost of transit service, making it difficult to serve new urban areas.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon

The Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006 is a set of policies to guide planning decisions in the Greater Golden Horseshoe over a 25 year period, focusing new growth into existing settlement areas to optimize infrastructure and curb sprawl. The plan identifies and specifies minimum density targets for 25 urban growth centres at existing nodes of activity. By establishing a framework for development and other transit-supportive policies, the plan aims to improve access to a greater range of transportation options, including transit, walking and cycling.
Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006 (Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure)

The Growth Plan for Northern Ontario, 2011 focuses decisions and investments to build a globally competitive northern economy that is resilient and sustainable and attracts new people and investments. The plan encourages certain communities to identify strategic core areas to function as vibrant, mixed-use districts that can accommodate higher densities and attract investment, support brownfield development, and include a broad range of amenities (e.g. vibrant streetscapes and transportation connections) accessible to residents and visitors.
Growth Plan for Northern Ontario, 2011
(Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure & Ministry of Northern Development Mines and Forestry)

Within settlement areas, the designation of a series of higher-density, mixed-use nodes and corridors relating to existing and planned transit investment can help to direct and focus growth to support the clustering of uses and activities and enable the creation of a more efficient transit network.

Within settlement areas, the designation of a series of higher-density, mixed-use nodes and corridors relating to existing and planned transit investment can help to direct and focus growth to support the clustering of uses and activities and enable the creation of a more efficient transit network.

Corridors or nodes such as the example above may take time to fully develop. If urban boundaries are expanded before these areas intensify, the cost of transit service may increase.

Corridors or nodes such as the example above may take time to fully develop. If urban boundaries are expanded before these areas intensify, the cost of transit service may increase.

 

  1. Site-specific amendments to permit reduced densities or non-transit-supportive uses at nodes and corridors should be discouraged.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning iconSite Planning icon
  2. Avoid pre-servicing areas outside of the existing urban boundary with municipal sewer and water services, as this will lead to pressure for new development.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon

Urban boundaries can help to promote more compact patterns of development, reducing land speculation and preserving agricultural lands in rural areas.

Urban boundaries can help to promote more compact patterns of development, reducing land speculation and preserving agricultural lands in rural areas.

Linking settlement areas with an inter-urban transit system can help reduce automobile travel between settlements and reinforce a regional network of distinct communities.

Linking settlement areas with an inter-urban transit system can help reduce automobile travel between settlements and reinforce a regional network of distinct communities.

supporting transit

  1. Incorporate a range of residential, commercial, retail, industrial, institutional and related employment uses within the settlement area appropriate for the community’s size. This will help create relatively self-contained communities and reduce the need for inter-urban commuting.Municipal Planning icon
  2. Work with regional and municipal authorities to develop an inter-urban transit system linking different settlement areas. This can help reduce automobile travel and reinforce a regional network of distinct communities.Municipal Planning iconRegional Planning icon
  3. Identify higher-density, mixed-use nodes (Guideline 1.1.2) and corridors (Guideline 1.1.3) within each settlement area. Tie these areas into existing and planned transit investments and vary their size and intensity according to the level of planned transit service.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning iconLarge Community iconBig City icon

1.1.2 Nodes

Planning for nodes should take into consideration their ability to support ridership by coordinating the intensity and mix of uses alongside existing or planned levels of transit service.

Nodes are areas within settlement areas of more intense density, use and activity. They are compact clusters of uses that can range greatly in scale and may include downtowns, mixed-use communities, clusters of office buildings, post-secondary educational campuses or other higher-density uses both large and small. Each will have its own unique sets of characteristics related to levels and hours of activity, ridership patterns or relationship to other areas of activity within a transit system. While different nodes will typically be characterized by particular types of land uses, the provision of a mix of uses should be encouraged to balance the flow or riders across the system.

In many cities and towns in Ontario, the downtown is the primary node accommodating the widest mix of transit-supportive uses, including workplaces, institutions such as schools, homes and retail stores. Downtowns are often developed at a higher density than other locations within the settlement area and may contain a range of overlapping nodes covering a broad area. Though overlapping, the unique qualities of each node should be recognized, including built form, land use, user characteristics and the characteristics of neighbouring areas so that they can be planned for both as a larger grouping and as distinct areas within the downtown.

Focusing urban growth within nodes and supporting these nodes with higher levels of transit service is fundamental to linking land use and transit, reducing walking times to and from uses and supporting the more efficient delivery of transit service. As key destinations, nodes will also exert an influence on travel patterns within adjacent areas, placing increased importance on pedestrian (Guideline 2.2.2) and cycling (Guideline 2.2.3) routes connecting into and out of the node.

The boundary of a node should reflect a 5- to 10-minute (400-800m) walk from a focal point within the transit system. Areas where change such as more intense density, use and activity are appropriate should be identified. Areas within the boundary of the node outside of these areas of change should be treated as built-up areas (Guideline 1.1.4).

The boundary of a node should reflect a 5- to 10-minute (400-800m) walk from a focal point within the transit system. Areas where change such as more intense density, use and activity are appropriate should be identified. Areas within the boundary of the node outside of these areas of change should be treated as built-up areas (Guideline 1.1.4).

Strategies:

location & boundaries

  1. Plan to develop nodes at focal points in the transit system such as intersecting corridors (Guideline 1.1.3), transfer points or stations (Guideline 2.6.1). Similarly, when planning new transit routes, focus transfer points and stations within existing or proposed nodes.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon
  2. The boundary of a node should generally reflect a 5 to 10 minute (400-800m) walk from a focal point within the transit system. Work with communities to identify areas where change such as more intense density, use and activity are appropriate. Areas within the boundary of the node outside of these areas of change should be treated as built-up areas (Guideline 1.1.4).District Planning icon

The creation of a local street and block system within nodes is an important strategy that helps to balance patterns of movement, enhance connections to transit and between adjacent areas and establish a pattern for intensification over time.

The creation of a local street and block system within nodes is an important strategy that helps to balance patterns of movement, enhance connections to transit and between adjacent areas and establish a pattern for intensification over time.

Recommended Resources

Case Study: Station Intensification

Ontario Heritage Tool Kit (Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Culture)

Mobility Hub Guidelines (Metrolinx)

Tall Buildings Study (City of Toronto)

land use

  1. Encourage a density and mix of uses at nodes that is appropriate for the existing or planned level of transit service and planned function of the node. Locate the largest, most densely developed nodes at major focal points in the transit system. In small settlement areas, this will usually be the downtown business district.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon
  2. Identify new nodes where they can strengthen existing land use anchors, such as a shopping centre, hospital, employment use, community facility or major transit station. Where existing nodes have potential for intensification, encourage new development to locate within them to take advantage of existing activities and transit infrastructure.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon
  3. Provide a full range of uses including employment, retail, recreational, cultural, institutional, personal services and other uses that will help support transit ridership. When locating new land use anchors, preference should be given to existing nodes as long as the new anchor will be capable of contributing to the existing or planned character of the area.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon
  4. Incorporate residential uses within nodes to balance ridership levels in all directions.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon
  5. Discourage automobile-oriented uses such as drive-throughs, which detract from the character and function of nodes and negatively affect the pedestrian environment.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning iconGreen Action icon

design strategies

  1. The planning or retrofit of nodes should establish a transit-supportive local street and block pattern (Guideline 2.2.1), and consider the implementation of a range of district-level and site-specific initiatives (Chapter 2) to support transit.District Planning icon
  2. Provide an appropriate transition of use, intensity and scale from higher-density nodes to surrounding areas.District Planning iconLarge Community iconBig City icon
  3. Encourage the preservation of cultural heritage resources, for example through the adaptive re-use of structures. Discourage the demolition of heritage sites.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning iconGreen Action icon

planning strategies

  1. Municipalities should prepare detailed secondary or district plans for nodes to guide their development into more transit-supportive places. These should consider modes of transportation, the public realm, land use and built form.Municipal Planning icon

1.1.3 Corridors

Major transit routes should be planned and developed as medium and high-density corridors. They are places to concentrate growth and intensification in immediate proximity to transit.

Corridors have similar characteristics to nodes, including an intensity and mix of uses, but are oriented along major transit routes. Corridors can also be key routes between nodes, creating continuous transit-supportive environments linked to transit infrastructure. Existing corridors can be reinforced through infill and redevelopment and supported with investments in enhanced transit service. The designation and development of corridors needs to take into consideration both existing and future transit services.

Transforming high-volume arterials into transit-supportive corridors takes time. Higher vehicular speeds and volumes often found on corridors can present challenges to developing a pedestrian- and transit-supportive environment. The automobile-oriented nature of many of these roads is often reinforced by surrounding uses, which are set back from the street and are developed at low densities. Developing a new corridor typically requires the introduction of a major transit route, the rebalancing of street rights-of-way to be friendlier to pedestrians, cyclists and transit users and the introduction of medium- to high-density buildings directly fronting the street. Where there is a predominance of automobile-oriented uses such as drive-throughs or shopping plazas, land use strategies should focus on the development of higher-density nodes (Guideline 1.1.2) at key centres of activity rather than dispersing density and activities along the length of the corridor. Not all corridors will be the same and the designation of corridors should account for differences in levels of transit service, differences in the ability to support new uses and/or higher densities and surrounding land use characteristics. Municipalities should identify a range of corridors that can respond to these different characteristics and develop policies to support the objectives for each.

The boundaries of a corridor should reflect a 5- to 10-minute (400-800m) walk from focal points within the transit system. The diverse nature of corridors will mean that they should contain a range of building types and densities along their length which can respond to the scale and intensity of surrounding neighbourhoods.

The boundaries of a corridor should reflect a 5- to 10-minute (400-800m) walk from focal points within the transit system. The diverse nature of corridors will mean that they should contain a range of building types and densities along their length which can respond to the scale and intensity of surrounding neighbourhoods.

Strategies:

location & boundaries

  1. Designate and develop corridors along important transit routes and in particular along streets connecting two or more nodes. In many cases this will correspond with arterial routes. Conversely, the planning of new transit routes should be coordinated with an understanding of existing or planned corridors to ensure that levels of transit service to those areas are enhanced.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon
  2. Not all arterials should be designated as corridors. Where arterials have a predominance of automobile-oriented uses, planning efforts should focus on the establishment of transit-supportive nodes (Guideline 1.1.2) around key transit stops or station areas or in areas with higher levels of activity.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon
  3. Establish the boundaries of a corridor based on a 5 to 10 minute (400-800m) walk from transit stops or stations located along the corridor. Appropriate distances will generally be determined by the level of transit service (Guideline 2.3.1). Work with communities to identify areas where change such as more intense density, use and activity are appropriate and treat places outside of these areas as built-up areas (Guideline 1.1.4).District Planning icon

Planning for transit corridors should strengthen connections between surrounding areas on either side of the corridor and transit services.

Planning for transit corridors should strengthen connections between surrounding areas on either side of the corridor and transit services.

There should be a transition of use, intensity and scale from higher-density corridors to adjacent neighbourhoods.

There should be a transition of use, intensity and scale from higher-density corridors to adjacent neighbourhoods.

land use

  1. Plan for a node where corridors intersect (Guideline 1.1.2).Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon
  2. Identify density targets for corridors, including minimum targets that should be met before expansion of the settlement area. In general, locate the highest densities on a corridor close to stop or station areas or close to the intersection of transit routes.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon
  3. Provide a full range of main street uses including retail, cultural, institutional, residential, personal services, offices and other uses to support transit ridership.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon
  4. Discourage automobile-oriented uses such as drive-throughs along corridors with high levels of transit service. These uses can detract from the character and function of corridors and discourage walking.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon
  5. Corridors will contain a range of densities along their lengths. Provide an appropriate transition of use, intensity and scale from higher-density corridors to surrounding areas.District Planning icon

design strategies

  1. Corridors are rarely homogenous and may contain numerous distinct areas along their routes. Planning for corridors must consider these distinct characteristics and plan for a corresponding range of buildings, uses, and open spaces.District Planning icon
  2. Planning for transit corridors should strengthen connections between surrounding areas on either side of the corridor and transit services. This can be accomplished through a range of district-level and site-specific initiatives (Chapter 2).District Planning icon
  3. Encourage the preservation of cultural heritage resources, for example through the adaptive re-use of structures. Discourage the demolition of heritage sites.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning iconGreen Action icon

planning strategies

  1. Municipalities should prepare secondary plans or corridor studies to effectively guide transit-supportive development, including consideration of all modes of transportation, the public realm, land uses and built form.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon

1.1.4 Built-Up Areas

The retrofit of built-up areas through intensification and infill development combined with street and open space improvements can enhance overall mobility and in particular, the efficiency of transit service. Where larger redevelopment opportunities exist, a pattern of streets, blocks, buildings and open spaces that is supportive of transit should be established.

Built-up areas are those areas that have already been developed within the established settlement area, but may not be designated as higher-density nodes or corridors. These areas constitute the largest proportion of the settlement area and in many communities are where the majority of people live. Built-up areas have a wide variety of characteristics, from low-density residential neighbourhoods to industrial lands, and vary in the degree to which they are transit-supportive.

In many cases, intensification and infill consists of small changes, such as the addition of second units. Larger opportunities may include former industrial or commercial properties that are underutilized or vacant. Redevelopment of these lands may be complicated by potential environmental contamination. However, efforts to reuse and redevelop such brownfield locations are encouraged, as they are often in strategic locations, with infrastructure in place that can support a variety of potential uses. Other opportunities may be found in post-war neighbourhoods, where high rise apartment towers often provide a critical mass of existing transit users. These towers generally sit on large land parcels that have significant intensification potential. The sites frequently lack sufficient pedestrian amenities and direct routes to transit. Sensitive site redevelopment and street-related infill projects such as town houses and mixed-use, mid-rise buildings can greatly improve the pedestrian experience and add new transit users to the area.

Stable built-up areas are important to the quality of life in our towns and communities. Preserving the function of built-up areas while encouraging incremental changes that support transit ridership will help maintain desired characteristics while supporting more comprehensive community-wide measures in support of transit.

Incremental changes can help to preserve the positive characteristics and function of existing built-up areas while supporting transit ridership.

Incremental changes can help to preserve the positive characteristics and function of existing built-up areas while supporting transit ridership.

Strategies:

built-up areas

  1. Protect the positive qualities of built-up areas while supporting ongoing change such as sensitive infill that can enhance the transit-supportive nature of these areas.Municipal Planning icon
  2. Encourage sensitive infill development through:
    • policies supporting the creation of second units in low-density residential areas that can help to raise overall neighbourhood densities; and/or
    • the retrofit or redevelopment of existing uses such as strip malls or other automobile-oriented uses to establish a more transit-supportive urban form.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning iconSite Planning icon
  3. Assess brownfields and greyfields for potential redevelopment. These properties are often located in built-up areas near transportation networks. Cleaning and rehabilitating these lands for productive uses, such as offices and recreation centres, can contribute to revitalizing neighbourhoods and building more sustainable communities.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon

Typical suburban strip malls place large areas of surface parking between transit users and their retail services. The redeveloped strip mall beside a planned rapid transit corridor in Mississauga, above, has been re-oriented to support transit ridership by locating uses adjacent to the transit stop.

Typical suburban strip malls place large areas of surface parking between transit users and their retail services. The redeveloped strip mall beside a planned rapid transit corridor in Mississauga, above, has been re-oriented to support transit ridership by locating uses adjacent to the transit stop.

Kaufman Lofts is an example of brownfield redevelopment in Kitchener. A former footwear manufacturing building, the re-adapted building now contains residential units and commercial space.

Kaufman Lofts is an example of brownfield redevelopment in Kitchener. A former footwear manufacturing building, the re-adapted building now contains residential units and commercial space.

Recommended Resources

A Practical Guide to Brownfield Redevelopment in Ontario (Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing)

Brownfields Ontario (Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing)

Infill Development – Strategies for Shaping Livable Neighborhoods (Municipal Research & Services Center of Washington)

Infill Townhouse Guidelines (City of Toronto)

larger opportunities

  1. Plan larger redevelopment areas using a transit-supportive pattern of built form and land use (Section 2.4) with a local street and block network (Guideline 2.2.1) that can enhance connections to transit services.District Planning iconSite Planning icon
  2. Situate transit generating uses such as shopping centres, higher-density housing, employment uses or institutions close to existing or planned transit routes.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon

enhancing connections

  1. Improve pedestrian and cycling infrastructure to increase convenient and comfortable access to transit. This is particularly important in post-war suburban neighbourhoods and employment areas where densities are low and distances between uses are greater.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning iconSite Planning icon
  2. Create additional street connections where possible that can help to minimize travel distances to transit. When new street connections cannot be made, mid-block pedestrian connections can minimize walking distances for transit users.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning iconSite Planning icon
  3. Coordinate transit routes between municipalities and plan them so that they serve neighbourhood focal points such as main streets or key clusters of activity to shorten travel distances to transit service and optimize efficiency.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon

planning strategies

  1. Municipalities should establish guidelines for infill development, secondary plans and/or district plans for larger redevelopment opportunities to ensure that new development is compatible with surrounding uses and supportive of transit (Implementation: The Planning Process).Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon

1.1.5 Designated Growth Areas

The planning and design of designated growth areas should be coordinated alongside planned long-term investments in transit to ensure that new development is transit-supportive.

Designated growth areas are municipal lands that are currently not urbanized but are designated as places where development is anticipated and planned. Development should be focused inward, with an emphasis on intensification, infill and redevelopment, before expanding the built-up area. However, in growing Ontario towns and cities, most growth does occur at the edge of the urbanized area, in designated growth areas. It is therefore critical to ensure that designated growth areas anticipate transit as an important service in the community so that they are planned for efficient transit operation and can support higher levels of transit ridership.

It can be challenging and expensive to provide transit in low-density areas which require residents and employees to travel long distances to access employment and other destinations. The establishment of well-connected road networks, a mix of uses, higher densities and implementation of other transit-supportive strategies within designated growth areas are essential to allow transit to operate effectively from the beginning, making it a viable transportation choice.

The planning of designated growth areas should identify higher-density, mixed-use nodes and corridors that vary in size and intensity according to the level of planned transit service.

The planning of designated growth areas should identify higher-density, mixed-use nodes and corridors that vary in size and intensity according to the level of planned transit service.

Strategies:

planning strategies

  1. Align the planning, design and development of designated growth areas with planned transit investments to ensure that they are mutually supportive of each other.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon
  2. Plan, develop and sequence designated growth areas so that they are adjacent to and act as extensions of existing built-up areas. Avoid leap-frog development. Phase in expansion of transit services to serve the majority of residents and businesses as growth areas develop and mature.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon
  3. The planning of designated growth areas should identify higher-density, mixed-use nodes (Guideline 1.1.2) and corridors (Guideline 1.1.3). These should relate to existing and planned investments in transit and vary in size and intensity according to the level of planned transit service.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning iconLarge Community iconBig City icon
  4. Structure new communities such that at least 90% of all people/jobs are within a 400 m (5 minute) walking distance of a transit stop.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon
  5. New streets should be connected to existing streets in adjacent developments. Where developments cross or border municipal boundaries, extend connections into adjacent municipalities to support regional mobility. Future connections to lands that have yet to be developed should be anticipated and planned for that purpose.District Planning iconSite Planning icon

Linking new streets to existing streets in adjacent developments can improve connectivity and transit service efficiency.

Linking new streets to existing streets in adjacent developments can improve connectivity and transit service efficiency.

Plan, develop and sequence designated growth areas so that built-up areas are contiguous. Avoid leap-frog development.

Plan, develop and sequence designated growth areas so that built-up areas are contiguous. Avoid leap-frog development.

land use strategies

  1. Plan designated growth areas with a mix of uses so that people can meet most of their daily needs without having to leave their community.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon
  2. Situate community amenities such as shopping centres, community centres, recreational facilities, schools and places of worship on or close to transit routes (Guideline 1.1.7).Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon
  3. Ensure new communities are of sufficient density to make transit service feasible and efficient.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon
  4. Establish minimum density thresholds where they currently do not exist at a level that is transit-supportive (Guideline 1.1.7). Generally, designated growth areas should accommodate a minimum of 50 people/jobs per hectare, with higher minimum densities in identified nodes and corridors.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon

1.1.6 Rural Settlement Areas

Growth in rural areas should be concentrated in rural settlement areas, conserving important countryside and natural areas and creating clusters of uses capable of supporting rural transit services.

The introduction of transit and more transit-supportive development in rural settlement areas, smaller settlements located in countryside, natural, or prime agricultural areas, represents an important opportunity to enhance mobility for rural users, creating environments that are more pedestrian-friendly and improving access to local services.

Growth and change need to be effectively managed to make transit viable. Often, residents from surrounding agricultural areas come to rural settlement areas to meet their daily needs. Similarly, people in rural settlement areas often travel to other rural settlement areas or to larger towns or cities for employment or to access amenities that are not available locally. In this environment, transit in the form of commuter services or centre-to-centre buses, community transportation and demand-responsive transit has a significant role to play in moving people.

One of the most significant transportation issues in rural settlement areas is that these areas are often designed to be accessed primarily by private automobile. This severely limits young people and seniors’ ability to access local services and/or participate in local activities and has been linked to a higher risk of obesity. Developing complete streets and implementing other strategies that meet the needs of all users and age groups can help to enhance mobility for youth and seniors with no alternative transportation options.

Target district and site level strategies for rural settlement areas to reflect the different needs that exist between more transitional areas on the settlement outskirts and the settlement core.

Target district and site level strategies for rural settlement areas to reflect the different needs that exist between more transitional areas on the settlement outskirts and the settlement core.

Strategies:

land use strategies

  1. Designate appropriate growth areas in settlement areas and rural settlement areas.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon
  2. Establish policies to limit residential development outside of designated settlement areas. This will help rural areas maintain their character and will direct growth to centres that have greater potential to support transit service.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning iconSmall Community icon
  3. Protect natural areas and their ecological functions from development. Maintain, restore and enhance these areas where possible.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning iconGreen Action icon

Focus transit-supportive uses such as schools, community centres, health facilities, places of worship, and shopping centres in rural settlement areas to support the more efficient provision of transit service.

Focus transit-supportive uses such as schools, community centres, health facilities, places of worship, and shopping centres in rural settlement areas to support the more efficient provision of transit service.

Transforming paved shoulders into designated bike lanes, in line with the Ontario Bikeways Planning and Design Guidelines, can enable people to travel longer distances to reach transit.

Transforming paved shoulders into designated bike lanes, in line with the Ontario Bikeways Planning and Design Guidelines, can enable people to travel longer distances to reach transit.

ridership strategies

  1. Cluster transit-supportive uses such as schools, community centres, places of worship, health facilities, and shopping centres within a 5-10 minute walking distance (400-800m) of each other, where possible, and where transit service is available. Concentrating these uses helps create a critical mass of potential transit users necessary to make services viable, enabling centre-to-centre transit services capable of facilitating convenient day trips between centres. When considering opportunities to implement this strategy, ensure that the proposed concentration of uses is appropriate to the type of water and sewage services available in the area. A range of rural transit service strategies can be found in Guideline 3.1.1.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon
  2. Dispersed strip development along rural roads is difficult to serve by transit and should be limited.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning iconSmall Community icon

pedestrian strategies

  1. Given the lower densities of rural areas, target district-level and site-specific mobility enhancement strategies (Chapter 2) in rural settlements. Generally, rural settlements can be understood as having two distinct characteristics:
    • A settlement core: the heart of the rural settlement, containing the highest concentration of people. Here there should be a focus on creating complete streets, strengthening pedestrian and cycling connections to key destinations and creating a transit-supportive urban form.Small Community icon
    • A transitional area: between a core and its rural surroundings. Strategies here should focus on traffic calming and streetscape enhancements in favour of pedestrians (Guideline 2.2.3) and cyclists (Guideline 2.2.4).Small Community iconDistrict Planning iconSite Planning icon

active transportation

  1. Establish active transportation routes and infrastructure to enable people to travel longer distances to reach transit or key destinations. This can be done, for example, by transforming paved shoulders into paved and signed designated bike lanes. Recommended minimum bikeway shoulder widths, which depend on operating speeds, truck and general traffic volumes, are provided in the Ontario Bikeways Planning and Design Guidelines.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning iconSmall Community icon

1.1.7 Coordination of Transit and Land Use

Land uses should be coordinated alongside existing and proposed transit investments to ensure that appropriate densities and a mix of uses are provided in proximity to transit service. Similarly, planned transit investments should aim to support existing and planned land use patterns by providing greater levels of service to denser areas.

Creating transit-supportive communities relies on the effective coordination of land use and transit so they are mutually supportive. When transit and land use decisions are made in isolation, it can result in patterns of development that are difficult and inefficient to serve by transit.

As residential and employment densities increase, the number of passengers per route-kilometre increases and a higher level of transit service can be cost-effective. Improved frequency and convenience of service has positive impacts on transit ridership, thereby further improving revenue/cost ratios and permitting even higher levels of service. Higher densities and a greater mix of uses in proximity to transit services help to reduce travel distances between uses and minimize walking distances. From a trip generation perspective, a greater mix of uses with a healthy residential/employment balance can reduce longer distance commuting, enabling a greater number of trips to be maintained within regions or municipalities and encouraging greater use of transit services. While higher residential densities in proximity to transit can help to promote ridership, if destinations are dispersed and the mix of uses limited, the provision of suitable transit service becomes more challenging. In some instances the concentration of jobs within an area, which can provide a key destination for transit riders, has more influence on ridership than residential densities. Consideration of both densities and mix of uses is required to determine the viability of a transit line or network.

The table above illustrates suggested minimum density thresholds for areas within a 5-10 minute walk of transit capable of supporting different types and levels of transit service. The thresholds presented are a guide and not to be applied as standards. Other factors such as the design of streets and open spaces, building characteristics, levels of feeder service, travel time, range of densities across the network and mix of uses can also have a significant impact on transit ridership. Mobility hubs and major transit station areas may require higher minimum densities.

The table above illustrates suggested minimum density thresholds for areas within a 5-10 minute walk of transit capable of supporting different types and levels of transit service. The thresholds presented are a guide and not to be applied as standards. Other factors such as the design of streets and open spaces, building characteristics, levels of feeder service, travel time, range of densities across the network and mix of uses can also have a significant impact on transit ridership. Mobility hubs and major transit station areas may require higher minimum densities.

Strategies:

a transit-supportive structure

  1. Plan for transit service as a necessary utility to support land use similar to water, electricity and roadways. As such, the provision of transit service should be a primary consideration in all developments and assessed as a component of the development approvals process.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon
  2. Plan for a level of transit coverage and service which is competitive with average automotive commuting times, including time walking to and from transit service. See Section 3.1 for more strategies to optimize system service and capacity to meet community needs.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon
  3. Official plans should be developed in concert with municipal or regional transportation plans with a special focus on how to link land uses and transit services.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon
  4. Official plans should establish a transit-supportive land use pattern by identifying an urban structure of higher-density nodes (Guideline 1.1.2) and corridors (Guideline 1.1.3). Generally, a broad mix of uses should be encouraged throughout all urban areas with a greater mix of uses at nodes, along corridors and in rural settlement areas.Municipal Planning icon
  5. Official plans should designate target densities capable of supporting transit ridership and should outline an appropriate mix of uses for nodes, corridors and built-up areas. There should be a positive correlation between levels of transit service and higher-density development to ensure that the maximum number of potential users is located within close walking distance of transit services (Chapter 4).Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon

The Metro 2040 Growth Concept for the Portland Region in Oregon establishes a regional framework for growth that integrates decisions relating to land use and transportation. The Growth Concept concentrates residential and commercial development in a series of mixed-use centres, along main streets and corridors where there are existing or planned investments in rapid transit.

The Metro 2040 Growth Concept for the Portland Region in Oregon establishes a regional framework for growth that integrates decisions relating to land use and transportation. The Growth Concept concentrates residential and commercial development in a series of mixed-use centres, along main streets and corridors where there are existing or planned investments in rapid transit.

land use strategies

  1. Locate a wide variety of high trip-generating uses, particularly those frequented by transit-dependant individuals, close to existing and/or planned transit stops or stations in order to increase route efficiency, promote vibrant station areas and enhance user access. Uses that should be encouraged along transit routes and around stops or station areas include:
    • institutional uses such as hospitals, seniors housing or community facilities;
    • entertainment uses such as theatres, bars/nightclubs and cultural facilities;
    • higher-density employment uses such as offices and hotels;
    • educational institutions such as local schools, high schools, colleges and universities;
    • social services such as day care centres, doctors offices and clinics;
    • recreational facilities such as fitness centres and arenas;
    • retail uses such as restaurants, shops and services; and
    • medium to higher-density residential uses, particularly affordable/social housing.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon

The development of a series of higher-density, mixed-use nodes at and around subway stations has been a key factor in the high levels of ridership along Toronto’s Yonge and University/Spadina subway lines. This has helped to reduce travel time between uses and create more vibrant station areas.

The development of a series of higher-density, mixed-use nodes at and around subway stations has been a key factor in the high levels of ridership along Toronto’s Yonge and University/Spadina subway lines. This has helped to reduce travel time between uses and create more vibrant station areas.

 

  1. Locate active, street-level uses such as shops and services at stops, in station areas or along streets and paths leading to and from transit facilities to provide easier access to these services and promote higher levels of pedestrian activity.District Planning iconSite Planning icon

The City of Ottawa Official Plan

The City of Ottawa’s new official plan directs growth to a series of higher-density, mixed-use nodes and corridors served by existing and planned transit services. The central area will remain the focus within the transit system, containing the highest density development. Radiating out from the central area is a planned network of corridors intended to accommodate cross-town transit commuters and act as local destinations within the system.

Official Plan (City of Ottawa)

process

  1. Discourage low-density employment uses such as auto wreckers, warehousing and storage facilities, and auto-oriented uses such as gas stations, service centres and drive-through establishments from locating in proximity to transit stops or in station areas.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon
  2. Plan to locate multiple functions such as a mix of employment, retail and residential uses along transit routes and corridors to increase transit destinations and support the viability of the transit network.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon
  3. Consult with transit agencies and the local development community to determine appropriate densities for employment and residential uses capable of supporting existing and planned investments in transit.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon
  4. Transit agencies should work towards making other municipal and regional departments and provincial agencies aware of their needs and play an active role in everyday decision-making related to land use planning and land use proposals. A comprehensive list of areas where transit agencies should play an active role is outlined in Chapter 4 under Planning Process.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning iconSite Planning icon
  5. To effectively integrate land use and transit planning, there should be a coordination of municipal/regional/provincial and transit planning activities, including review of proposed densities and road networks by transit planners, to ensure optimized bus routing; preliminary planning of future bus routes and bus stops, and opportunities to propose requirements for developers to incorporate transit infrastructure, such as stop facilities, into development plans.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon

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