Photo of Downtown Barrie Ontario at night

Municipalities can manage their growth and development through careful land-use planning while addressing social, economic, and environmental concerns. The responsibility for long-term planning in Ontario is shared between the province and municipalities.

In truth, these governments don’t always work together to direct land-use planning. Learn about the land use planning process and how it’s affecting Simcoe County’s development.


The land-use planning process balances the interests of individual property owners with the wider needs and objectives of the community. 

Decisions about land use affect almost every aspect of life in Ontario; this means land use planning directly impacts the quality of a community. Here’s how it works:

  1. The province sets out the legislative framework and policies through the Planning Act and a Provincial Policy Statement (PPS). 
  2. Municipalities and planning boards implement the province’s land use planning policy framework.  Although municipalities have some flexibility when planning their community objectives, they must ensure their land use plans and decisions are “consistent with” the PPS. 
  3. When conflict arises, approval authorities and the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT- formally LPAT) provide dispute resolution mechanisms for the protection of provincial interests as well as the interests of individual landowners.

It’s important to remember that land-use planning is fundamentally a public process and considers the input of developers, residents, indigenous communities, and individuals.


While the land use planning system makes sense in theory, the reality is different. In our experience, especially in  Simcoe County where development is substantial, the province fails to appreciate the culture of life outside of the GTA. The result is years of “planning by numbers” for a lifestyle nobody wants. 

Affordable housing has become the victim of poor policy mandates and bureaucratic red tape that delays new development. Even flawed policies take time to take effect—and time works in favour of scarcity and against choice and affordability. 

Scarcity drives inflation, further accelerating the existing inventory price (or pushing it into overdrive, as we’ve seen in recent years). As a result, homeownership has become beyond the reach of many middle-class Canadians. 


After four years of extensive public engagement and consultation, the City of Barrie’s new Official Plan was adopted by City Council on February 14, 2022. 

We’re pleased to see the City of Barrie is showing a commitment to key themes like connectivity, environmental sustainability and housing diversification. 

The problem we see with the plans for Simcoe County development is that only a portion of them will result in shovels in the ground. The other plans are ‘value add’ players that de-risk property, define density and add a premium for time and work completed before reselling the land to an actual developer. 

Don’t get us wrong, there is room in the market for some of these ‘value add’ players, but while we play musical chairs with our land inventory, choice goes down. The inventory does not increase, but prices do. 

Unless efforts are made to improve and accelerate development opportunities in Simcoe County, which starts with the land use planning process, “affordable housing” will remain just another political buzzword and true housing affordability will remain beyond reach for our children and generations to come.

Who We Are

Squarefoot Commercial Group specializes in commercial and industrial real estate. We focus on sales and leasing, repurposing and repositioning commercial real estate assets in Barrie, Simcoe County and its surrounding communities. View current sale and leasing opportunities at Squarefoot.

With over 60 years of commercial real estate experience, our team has a granular understanding of local markets; while our focus is local, our designations, memberships and associations are global. Meet Our Team

Squarefoot is actively involved in selecting the best intensification sites in the Simcoe County area, and we work collaboratively with local governments, other realtors and advisors to uncover development potential in Simcoe County as well as some of the fastest-growing communities in Ontario. Ready to experience the Squarefoot advantage? Contact us today!

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