Envision Durham envisioning nearly a quarter-million new jobs by 2051, with Whitby and Oshawa the epicentre


Published November 9, 2021 at 2:45 pm

With Durham Region’s population expected to crest the 1.3 million mark over the next 30 years, the big thinkers at the Region are busy figuring out how to create the nearly quarter-million new jobs required for that growth.

The Employment Strategy Technical Report is the third report issued since the Region launched Envision Durham, a comprehensive review of Durham’s Official Plan, which has a goal of determining the future growth of the Region; how to protect Durham’s land and resources; what housing types and job opportunities are needed; and how goods and people will move across the region.

The purpose of the latest report is to provide a comprehensive long-term review of Durham’s employment growth outlook, evaluate employment land needs and provide guidance regarding long-term planning and economic development priorities

There were several key findings in the report, starting with the need for 236,400 new jobs to meet the expected population growth by 2051, an annual growth rate of 2.1 per cent – which is considered “significant.”

To meet that goal there will have to be some sort of urban boundary expansion as there is expected be an employment lands shortfall of about 2,800 acres

Durham has identified three major employment areas – called Provincially Significant Employment Zones – that are expected to host most of the new employment growth.

  • Zone 1 is in Courtice/Bowmanville West and Oshawa Southeast and covers a total area of about 2,315 acres
  • Zone 2 is in Whitby South and Oshawa South and covers a total area of 3,700 acres
  • Zone 3 is in Pickering East and Ajax West and covers a total area of 1,620 acres

Other findings from the report focussed on what the Durham Region of 2051 should look like and how best to realize that goal.

  • Growth will be directed to settlement areas, and within settlement areas it will be focused to strategic growth areas, locations where higher-order transit exists or is planned, and areas with existing or planned public service facilities
  • Municipalities should develop as complete communities with a diverse mix of land uses, including employment and residential with convenient access to local stores, services and public service facilities
  • Population and employment growth are to be accommodated by reducing dependence on the automobile through the development of mixed-use, transit supportive, pedestrian-friendly urban environments
  • In general, the development of Employment Areas should be transit-supportive and compact, and should minimize surface parking
  • Municipalities should preserve lands within settlement areas in the vicinity of major highway interchanges, ports, rail yards and airports for manufacturing and associated retail, office, and ancillary facilities where appropriate
  • Policy direction emphasizes the economic importance of Employment Areas and the need to protect such areas from incompatible land uses. This includes prohibiting certain residential uses in Employment Areas and avoiding (or mitigating) encroachment of sensitive land uses, major retail uses, or major office uses on industrial, manufacturing, or other similar uses

Post-pandemic challenges are expected to linger into the rest of the decade and beyond as well, such as continued disruption of ‘bricks and mortar’ retail driven by changes in consumer behavior through e-commerce; increased opportunities related to work-at -home, part-time employment, and distributed work/learning (largely driven by technological innovation and improvements to regional telecommunications); and shifting demands between residential, office and institutional floorspace.

Other economic factors expected to influence planning over the next few decades include:

  • Economic growth related to the logistics sector, which will be generated from growing demand in ecommerce and requirements for regional fulfillment centres
  • Increasing use of technology in commercial services leading to alternative platforms to purchase and share products
  • Continued economic recovery in the manufacturing sector, in particular advanced manufacturing
  • Longer-term opportunities and challenges in the manufacturing sector associated with continued offshoring, automation and the rise of artificial intelligence and
  • Growing opportunities within the Clean Energy Sectors enabling the Region’s transition to a clean energy economy

Staff and Council are expected to do all that while still positioning Durham Region as the location of choice for business by leveraging Durham’s prime geography, social infrastructure, and strong partnerships to foster economic growth and by capitalizing on the region’s strengths in key economic sectors to attract high-quality jobs.

The Employment Strategy Technical Report is now available for public review. The report will be posted at [email protected]. Interested parties are encouraged to subscribe for further project updates and email notifications through this web page.

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