What is a Land Needs Assessment?

    A Land Needs Assessment (LNA) is a mandatory technical study to determine how much land is needed to accommodate population and job growth until 2051. It must be completed as part of the City’s Municipal Comprehensive Review (a planning exercise to bring municipal policies in conformity with Provincial policies). The Province provided the methodology (i.e. how the LNA is to be developed) that is to be used to determine the allocation of forecasted population and job growth. Different intensification rates are used to determine potential scenarios for future land need. The intensification rate refers to the percentage of the City’s new housing units that are constructed within the built-up area each year. In addition, different assumptions about the density of newly developing areas also influences the amount of land needed. The LNA then determines the “Community” land need (residential, commercial and institutional growth), and the “Employment” land need (for employment uses like business parks and industrial lands). The result is a document that states just how much new Designated Greenfield Area lands needs to be brought into the urban boundary to accommodate future population and job growth if different intensification rates are applied. For a more detailed explanation about the LNA methodology, please refer the Land Needs Assessment Methodology 2020 summary on page 7 of the Land Needs Assessment Staff Report - PED17010(h) – December 2020.

    What is ‘intensification’?

    Intensification is development and re-development of lands within the built-up area of the City at an intensity of use that is greater than currently exists. The minimum percentage of intensification for Hamilton is set at 50% - this is prescribed by the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2019. The City can plan for a higher percentage of intensification. The percentage of growth the City plans to support through intensification has a direct relationship to how much ‘community area land need’ is determined through the Land Needs Assessment.

    How is Climate Change being considered?

    Goal #4 of the City’s Corporate Goals and Areas of Focus for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation is related to planning and aims to ensure that a climate change lens is applied to all planning initiatives to encourage the use of best climate mitigation and adaptation practices. Potential climate change impacts can arise from accommodating growth in any form, be it through urban boundary expansion, intensification or a combination of both. The key is to identify strategies to mitigate potential climate change impacts to the greatest extent feasible and build resilience in our community to be adaptive to future impacts.  Strategies which can be undertaken through growth management planning include:

    • Planning for increased intensification and density targets to focus growth in the urban area but also maintain a balanced approach for future development
    • Supporting a growth scenario which results in lesser Community Area lands being brought into the urban boundary
    • Applying a climate change lens to the evaluation of growth options and potential phasing, including investigating the possibility of including scenario modelling from the Community Energy Plan into the evaluation framework.

    Can all development be accommodated through intensification?

    The City would need to achieve and maintain an 81% rate of intensification from 2021 to 2051 in order to accommodate all of the anticipated housing units in this time period. 

    • This far exceeds the market demand identified in the Residential Intensification Market Demand report.
    • There is not enough supply to satisfy the forecasted demand. There is anticipated supply for 70,000 intensification units in the City to 2051, whereas 89,000 units would need to be supplied in this time horizon if all growth were to be achieved through intensification. 
    • A balanced supply of new units would not be achieved, which is counter to Provincial planning policy which requires a range and mix of units to create complete communities. This scenario would require that 75% of new intensification units be in the form of apartment units, which will not address the market demand for medium and lower density forms of housing. 

    A growth scenario with no urban boundary expansion during the planning horizon to 2051 would not represent a market-based approach to planning for growth, and may be rejected by the Province.

    What types of residential dwellings might be developed in new communities?

    Within new communities, a range of housing types could be developed. This would include single detached and semi-detached dwellings and different types of townhouses (block, street, back to back and stacked townhouses). Low rise apartments could also be considered.

    Different types of Townhouses:

    "Back to Back" (or Maisonette) Townhouse - Form of townhouse with individual units attached back to back, often 6 to 8 units in one block.

    Street Townhouse - Individual units have frontage on a public road.

    Block Townhouse - Tradition form of townhouse development. Often condominium units which front on a private road. 
    Stacked Townhouse - Blocks of attached units with individual entrances that share a common side wall with 2 or 3 units stacked vertically.


    How will my feedback be used to inform decision making?

    Planning Staff consider all public feedback in the formation of planning recommendations to bring forward to Committee and Council. Public engagement is a fundamental part of the planning process. We will use your feedback to determine what opinions exist about the project and the proposed scenarios for growth, and to identify any trends. Future staff reports will describe general trends in public opinion, and how they impacted the recommendation.

    Where can I learn more about the history of the GRIDS project?

    The first GRIDS project was undertaken in 2006, looking towards a planning horizon of 2031. The first GRIDS report is available here (2006 GRIDS Final Report). GRIDS 2 is building on the intial work of GRIDS but will plan to the year 2051.

    What is the ‘Growth Plan’?

    Often referred to as the ‘Growth Plan’ by planners and municipal officials, A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (2019) provides specific land use planning policies for the municipalities in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. The Growth Plan provides the land use planning and implementation policies that guide development in the Plan area. It specifies the planning timeline/horizon and growth forecasts (population and jobs) that municipalities must plan for. Through the Growth Plan, municipalities are required to plan for a minimum intensification rate (Hamilton is 50%) and minimum Designated Greenfield Area density (Hamilton is 50 people/jobs per hectare). All planning decisions must be in conformity with the policies of the Growth Plan

    What are the whitebelt lands?

    The City of Hamilton has a large amount of rural land which is within the plan area for the Greenbelt Plan. Lands within the Greenbelt Plan area are not permitted to be developed for urban expansion (with limited exceptions for minor expansions to existing small towns and villages). Hamilton has a limited amount of rural land that is not within the Greenbelt Plan area and is referred to as ‘whitebelt lands’. The amount of ‘whitebelt lands’ that could potentially be available for urban expansion to the year 2051 is approximately 1,600 net hectares.  The majority of the whitebelt lands are contiguous to the City’s southern urban boundary. Throughout the discussion of GRIDS2 you will have likely heard reference to Elfrida, Twenty Road West/Garner Road, Twenty Road East, and Whitechurch lands. These describe the four main areas that may be considered for future urban expansion through to 2051. View a map of Whitebelt Lands

    What background studies can I review to learn more information on the data inputs into the Land Needs Assessment?

    For more information on residential intensification, you can review the Residential Intensification Market Demand Analysis prepared by Lorius & Associates. 

    For a review of the City’s residential intensification supply potential, you may review the Residential Intensification Supply Update prepared by City staff.    

    A review of the planned density of the City’s Existing Designated Greenfield Area (lands which are already in the urban boundary) is also available for review and it describes the amount and density of future development that can be accommodated in that area.