How we design our communities is a major factor in determining how we choose to travel. People who live in a higher density neighbourhood with a variety of stores and services near their home are more likely to walk, cycle or take transit. People living in a lower density neighbourhood that is far from stores and services, and lacks sidewalks and bike lanes are much more likely to drive. An effective transportation system is one that is supported by, and that promotes efficient and sustainable land use. The RTP builds on the linkages between the transportation system and the management of urban growth that have been established in the province’s Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe and helps to support and implement the Growth Plan vision.


Ontario’s Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe was released in June 2006. It sets out a 25-year vision and plan to accommodate the expected growth in the region. It is designed to support economic prosperity, protect the environment and help communities achieve a high quality of life. The Growth Plan calls for the creation of more compact and complete communities, with a strong emphasis on transit and pedestrian-friendly design. For more information about the Growth Plan visit www.placestogrow.ca.

Cobourg King St



A system of connected mobility hubs.

7.1 Create a system of connected mobility hubs, including Anchor Hubs and Gateway Hubs, at key intersections in the regional rapid transit network that provide travellers with access to the system, support high density development, and demonstrate excellence in customer service

Atocha Station Atocha Station in Madrid, Spain is at the intersection of commuter and national rail lines and one of the city’s metro lines. There are also shops, cafés, a nightclub and a 4,000 square metre covered tropical garden.
St. Paul, Minnesota In St. Paul, Minnesota a new transit hub will link a new LRT station with relocated bus and train stations, making it easier to transfer between routes and modes. The priority is to make transit use as simple and pleasant as possible. To that end, the station will also feature a new public square to provide focus for activities in and around the station.

7.2 As the regional rapid transit system is implemented, detailed planning is undertaken for specific corridors, and municipal growth planning exercises unfold, Metrolinx may, in consultation with municipalities and transit agencies, refine the list of mobility hubs based on the definitions and criteria of the RTP.


mobility hub The relationship between the structure of a city-region and its transportation system is critically important. An attractive and environmentally sustainable urban structure requires fast, frequent and well connected means of movement. An efficient and cost-effective transit system requires nodes (or dense concentrations) of trip origins and destinations. The interface between urban form and the transportation system is particularly important around major transit stations.

Focusing growth and development around major transit stations allows more people to live near transit services, and makes more destinations accessible by transit. Transit stations are also the key point of contact between the traveller and the transit system, so they have a significant impact on customer service and the overall travelling experience. A welldesigned transit station can help make travellers feel relaxed, informed and appreciated. A poorly-designed station can cause frustration.

Some of the GTHA’s transit stations are particularly significant given the level of transit service that exists or is planned for them, as well as the development potential around them. These stations are identified in the RTP as mobility hubs. In addition to serving as places to arrive, wait for and depart on transit, successful mobility hubs have the potential to become vibrant places of activity and destinations in themselves. Currently, many of these sites offer little more than vast parking lots, but they could be much more.

The RTP imagines a future in which key major transit stations are turned into true mobility hubs, where transportation modes come together, including local transit service, cycling and pedestrian networks, with secure storage facilities for bikes and car-share drop-off areas. They will be locations for major destinations such as office buildings, hospitals, educational facilities and government services. They will also offer amenities to travellers such as heated waiting areas, traveller information centres, cafés or restaurants, and services like a daycare, grocery store or post office (for more information see the backgrounder “Mobility Hubs, December 2008”).

7.3 Develop a financial program to facilitate mobility hub capital improvements that increases over time to $50 million annually. This program would fund or leverage transit-related improvements such as converting surface parking to structured parking, strategic land acquisitions, station improvements, and local road re-alignments to facilitate integration of transportation modes, with a focus on those mobility hubs that:

  • have the greatest potential to improve the performance of the overall transit system and generate a return on the transit investment;
  • cdemonstrate an ambitious and practical development plan for achieving or exceeding the land use and transportation objectives of the RTP and the minimum requirements of the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe;
  • have prepared a viable business plan that outlines the public and private financing techniques for achievement of the intended development;
  • have strong support from the municipality;
  • have high levels of existing or planned local transit service; and
  • demonstrate best practices in the design and function of the mobility hub.

7.4 Establish a special purpose, transit-related urban development capability to lead or facilitate development for those mobility hubs where it is determined that jurisdictional issues, land ownership patterns or other issues present particular challenges that would otherwise inhibit their successful, integrated development. Such capability would be structured appropriately to respond to the issues identified and could be vested with authority to manage publicly owned lands and to acquire or assemble lands needed to realize the strategic development objectives of the mobility hub.

7.5 Take advantage of the full range of financial and development tools available as part of a mobility hub development strategy and establish guidelines for their appropriate use. These tools may include tax increment financing, community improvement plans, area development charges, as well as value capture strategies, public-private partnerships and the possible use, as necessary, of statutory expropriation powers.

7.6 With the guidance of a multi-stakeholder roundtable, undertake a comprehensive parking study to identify best practices and guidelines with respect to:

  • optimum parking standards, practices and pricing policies for non-residential parking, particularly in mobility hubs;
  • design of parking facilities to ensure they do not act as barriers to transit or active transportation;
  • transitioning from free to paid parking to encourage transit and active transportation use;
  • separating parking costs from transit fares at mobility hubs, in order to encourage travellers to access the station by walking, cycling or local transit; and
  • implementation mechanisms such as municipal parking authorities.

7.7 Update the province’s Transit Supportive Land Use Guidelines.


7.8 The transportation system shall be planned, designed, built and operated to create pedestrian-, cycling-, and transit-friendly communities, and to ensure connectivity between places and along corridors that support the urban structure and intensification objectives of the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

7.9 The transportation system shall be planned, designed, built and operated in a manner that directs growth to approved settlement areas, particularly already built-up areas, and away from areas where development is discouraged by provincial policy, such as natural areas and agricultural lands.

7.10 The regional rapid transit and highway network in Schedules 1 and 2 shall be incorporated into all municipal Official Plans, and these planned transit services shall be used as the basis for determining appropriate land uses and densities in conformity with the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

7.11 In new residential, commercial and employment developments in municipalities where transit service is planned or available, all homes and businesses shall be within walking distance of a transit stop with frequent service. Transit stop signage shall be erected as soon as roads are constructed so that prospective businesses and homeowners are aware of where transit service will be provided.

7.12 New institutions such as elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools, regional hospitals, large sporting venues and cultural centres should demonstrate excellence in transit-oriented and pedestrian-friendly design and should choose locations that maximize access by transit and active transportation. This shall be supported by municipal Official Plan policies.

7.13 Municipal parking and zoning by-laws shall be updated to:

  • establish maximum parking requirements;
  • decrease minimum parking requirements where appropriate;
  • permit off-site, on-street and shared-parking capacity to be counted towards meeting parking requirements;
  • provide priority parking for car-sharing; and
  • give landowners and developers the option of providing alternatives to free on-site parking, such as transit passes, car-sharing memberships, carpooling services, and/or financial contributions towards transit or active transportation infrastructure.

7.14 Gateway hubs and anchor hubs identified in Schedules 1 and 2 of the RTP shall be identified and incorporated into municipal Official Plans and Transportation Master Plans. Official Plans and Transportation Master Plans should also identify unique destinations that are important regional activity centres and/or major trip generators, such as universities, regional shopping centres, hospitals, and cultural facilities.

7.15 Municipalities, in consultation with transit agencies, landowners, major stakeholders, and public agencies and institutions, shall prepare detailed master plans for each mobility hub. Where appropriate, master plans should also be prepared for major transit station areas and unique destinations that have been identified in accordance with Policy 7.14. At minimum, master plans will:

  • set out policies and an anticipated schedule for their achievement, to conform with and implement the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe’s policies for major transit station areas and, where applicable, urban growth centres;
  • establish minimum density targets that conform to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe and are based on the planned transit service levels of the RTP;
  • optimize transit-oriented development potential, and identify and implement incentives to promote transit-oriented development, such as streamlined planning and building approvals and reduced development application fees;
  • provide for a range of amenities for travellers such as retail uses, restrooms, community spaces and tourism information, where appropriate;
  • optimize the trip-generation benefit of the mobility hub;
  • set target modal splits for transit usage, single occupancy vehicle trips and active transportation for each mobility hub, and an anticipated schedule for their achievement;
  • establish a surface parking reduction strategy in consultation with transit agencies, that is based on site-specific redevelopment opportunities and the existing or planned availability of alternative modes of access to the mobility hub, and that includes a scheduled transition from free surface parking to a limited supply of fairly priced, structured parking, and policies to set aside reserved parking spaces for carpool and carsharing vehicles;
  • include design policies that help achieve environmental sustainability objectives, such as LEED Gold or equivalent standards, for any new transit-related buildings;
  • improve the travelling experience through the use of public art, landscaping and architectural excellence;
  • minimize distances between transit stations and between transit stations and key destinations within the mobility hub;
  • give priority to transit, pedestrian and bicycle access over all other modes, and identify a zone around mobility hubs that provides priority measures for these modes on access roads;
  • establish a pedestrian-focused internal movement plan that integrates public and private spaces through well-designed, human-scaled spaces;
  • provide secure, conveniently located, weather-protected bicycle storage facilities and integrate bike-sharing where available; and
  • address issues related to the comfort and convenience of transit users, including policies that provide for customer service amenities, such as a plentiful supply of clean, safe, comfortable, weather-protected waiting areas, way-finding, and access for users with special needs.

7.16 Municipalities may identify areas in Official Plans and Transportation Master Plans that have the potential to meet the mobility hub definitions and criteria of the RTP in the future, and plan for their potential future role as mobility hubs. This may include the preparation of detailed master plans for these areas as described in Policy 7.15.

7.17 All transit corridors in the regional rapid transportation network shall be assessed for their potential for higher density mixed-use development and for their suitability as intensification corridors as defined in the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Generally, all regional rapid transit corridors that are not on controlled-access expressways or outside of settlement areas should be identified as intensification corridors, except where this would conflict with other provincial policy.

7.18 For those transit corridors that are identified as intensification corridors in accordance with Policy 7.17, municipalities, in consultation with transit agencies, landowners, major stakeholders, and public agencies and institutions, shall set out policies in their Official Plans and Transportation Master Plans that:

  • conform with and implement the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe’s policies for intensification corridors;
  • establish minimum density targets based on the planned transit service levels of the RTP;
  • facilitate a mix of modes, including active transportation;
  • give priority to transit vehicles over private vehicles, and maximize the value of the transit investment;
  • discourage free parking, minimize street-facing surface parking lots, accommodate appropriate streetside parking and minimize the impacts of parking on other forms of transportation such as walking and cycling; and
  • provide for desirable maximum and minimum heights, and maintain site development standards, to create positive visual relationships among buildings along the street, and between buildings and the street.

7.19 Design standards and streetscape guidelines, enforceable through the site plan process, should be prepared for those transit corridors that are identified as intensification corridors. These should address landscaping, street furniture, integrating transit facilities (shelters and waiting areas), signage and lighting.

7.20 Stations on the regional rapid transit network shall be planned, located and designed to:

  • maximize transit ridership;
  • maximize integration of transportation services;
  • prioritize access by transit, walking and cycling;
  • optimize transit cost-effectiveness and operational considerations;
  • maximize integration with the surrounding neighbourhood to create a walkable environment; and
  • optimize development opportunities.

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