Measuring Sustainability Performance of New Development in Brampton, Richmond Hill and Vaughan

The main purpose of implementing a sustainable development framework in the development review process is to reduce the overall ecological footprint of new developments and redevelopment projects. The Cities of Brampton, Vaughan and Richmond Hill (the municipal Partners) joined together to produce an innovative set of sustainability metrics for use in the planning process. The sustainability metrics address urban design issues such as compact form, walkability, and urban tree canopy as well as resource efficiency related to energy, potable water and stormwater management. City of Vaughan Council endorsed the sustainability metrics in November 2013 and the City will initiate a testing stage in early 2015.


Developing the sustainability metrics was completed in two phases. Phase 1 focused on the preparation of qualitative sustainability guidelines and was led by the City of Brampton. The Sustainable Community Development Guidelines (SCDGs) are now a new chapter in Brampton's Development Design Guidelines. The City of Vaughan will use the SCDGs to inform its future City-Wide Urban Design Guidelines Manual project, which is scheduled to commence in the first quarter of 2015.


Phase 2 utilized the Phase 1 guidelines to prioritize key quantitative sustainability metrics integrated into the Sustainability Tools. Phase 2 was led by the City of Vaughan and involved the consulting firms of Halsall Associates and The Planning Partnership. The Sustainability Tools consist of quantitative targets used to guide the review of Block Plan, Draft Plan of Subdivision and Site Plan applications. The Sustainability Tools represent an integrated design solution targeting technical disciplines (e.g. planners, engineers, urban designers, landscape architects, etc.) responsible for reviewing planning applications. The end products are designed to be tools that all municipal and agency staff and Councils involved in the development review process can support and champion.


The Sustainability Tools will be implemented in the development review process by first initiating a testing stage, which is scheduled to proceed in early 2015. Similar to LEED certification, the Sustainability Tools enable an applicant to calculate an overall sustainability score for a development proposal based on the target level achieved for select metrics. The City has certainty that a baseline sustainability performance is being met by establishing a “sustainability threshold score” for each type of application. The “sustainability threshold score” will be established through the findings of the testing stage. This provides a flexible approach to achieving a more sustainable built environment. Applicants can select the metrics appropriate to the type of development to achieve the “sustainability threshold score” and ensuring a minimum gain to the built environment is achieved. This flexible approach resulted from direct dialogue with the development industry early on in the project.


Links to the Sustainability Metrics, for launching the testing stage, are available on the Development Planning webpage. This will ensure that the sustainability metrics are included as part of a Complete Application.


Linking Healthy Communities and Sustainability


The link between the Sustainability Metrics and work of the Peel Region and York Region health agencies was provided in presentations and a staff report to the March 18th, 2013 meeting of the Priorities and Key Initiatives Committee.


Sustainability Metrics - Draft Comprehensive Report


A Draft Comprehensive Report outlining the Sustainability Metrics was made available for public comment at the April 30th, 2013 meeting of the Committee of the Whole.


Sustainability Tools - Implementation Recommendations


Following public comment and stakeholder input, the final Sustainability tools were presented at the November 26, 2013 meeting of the Committee of the Whole. Council adopted the staff recommendation to proceed to a testing stage of the Sustainability Metrics.