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Midtown population density could exceed Manhattan

Oakville’s Midtown proposal allows for over 125,000 people and jobs, far exceeding provincial targets
Andre Benz on Unsplash
Andre Benz on Unsplash
Ben Sprawson
Ben Sprawson

A local developer and housing advocate is raising the alarm about the possible population density planned for Midtown Oakville.

Ben Sprawson, a local developer and housing advocate, has published his findings and resources at Midtown-plan.

Noting that the area’s population density could exceed Manhattan's, he urges residents to attend the Midtown-focused planning and development meeting scheduled for May 23 at 6:30.

"If Midtown Oakville were to be developed as the town has presented, the density would far exceed the provincial and regional targets," says Sprawson in a recent press release.

"After analyzing the official plan and current proposals for development in the Midtown area, I developed a methodology that could help determine the population densities that can reasonably be expected for Midtown Oakville when fully developed."

Sprawson’s claims include the following:

  • If Midtown is developed to its maximum as planned, the area will end up with 125,000 to 200,000 or more people on its 100 hectares. This would equate to 1,250 to 2,000 people per hectare. For comparison, Toronto is 44 people per hectare, and Manhattan is 280 people per hectare.
  • Midtown is projected to house 41,000 people by 2051. Based on the densities shown in the town’s plan, fewer than 15 hectares would need to be developed.
  • The town’s other five growth areas in Oakville are also at risk of being overly developed. 
  • School boards will need to negotiate with developers for space within their buildings. The Midtown Official Plan (OP) does not have any space designated for schools. They are encouraged to be vertically oriented. Outdoor space will likely be limited.
  • The town is trying to promote active transportation by reducing the parking allotment requirements before providing new infrastructure for active transportation and biking.

"To create the vibrant, people-oriented, mixed-use community that the town is promising, they need to start with the end in sight, implement policies and set standards that reflect and meet the needs of the community," says Sprawson.

He adds that despite town visualizations showing midrise buildings, no development applications have been received reflecting that minimum density growth for the area.

"The current OPA is built for developers, with little in place to prevent the significant overdevelopment of Midtown Oakville," he says. "There are five more growth areas identified within Oakville where we could be faced with similar planning issues."

"The plan that is set now will affect the livability of Oakville for generations to come."

Ben Sprawson
Ben Sprawson