Substantial Completion Standards

On June 18, 2024, Urban Planning Committtee reviewed a report on the Substantial Completion Standard. This is the metric used by the City to determine how complete new neighbourhoods are and whether further suburban sprawl is needed.

The way we build newly developing communities has improved in the recent decades. We see more mixing of uses, greater density, and improved transportation infrastructure. However, we want to see the positive trajectory continue. We need increased density and a wider array of land uses threaded into these new communities, as set out in City Plan. We want to ensure that we build neighbourhoods that provide convenient and safe transportation options to new residents prior to the neighbourhoods completion.

We have two core messages. 

Message 1: Arterial roadway metrics should incorporate active transportation infrastructure if they do not already do so.

We want to stress is the importance of arterial roads as a future tracked metric. In our review of the materials (and particularly Attachment 31), we want to stress that this metric should include tracking whether the major active transportation infrastructure that follows alongside arterial roadways (often shared use paths) is also accounted for. A complete transportation network is a network that provides users with choices. The arterial roadway surface provides space for personal vehicles, transit, and confident cyclists. The accompanying active transportation infrastructure provides space for all cyclists, pedestrians, and other forms of active transportation.

We learned through our 2019 Missing Links project that oftentimes the active transportation infrastructure that accompanies arterial roads lags behind the road network development.

Five years later, we are running another Missing Links campaign to update this work.

Even if the infrastructure is completed eventually, it is not always completed in time to give new residents of developing neighbourhoods transportation choice for many years. Folding this consideration into the arterial roadway metric will be a way to ensure that neighbourhoods are truly substantially complete prior to more new neighbourhoods beginning their partial development.

Message 2: If we design it well, the street network in developing neighbourhoods should be understood to be more of an amenity than it currently is.

We believe the City needs to acknowledge another important aspect of a neighbourhood street network. Attachment 6 identifies the amenities that residents value in their neighbourhood. Recreation Centres, Libraries, and Parks are all valuable community spaces.

But, we should also understand local streets to be community spaces as well.

It’s where we play road hockey or go on neighborhood walks. When we visit a well-designed urban City, we usually spend as much time perusing the network of streets as we do visiting the attractions and amenities.

We know municipal budgets are constrained, so we should view our investment in the road network as an opportunity to provide free amenity areas for the community to enjoy! Doing so also results in safer streets that are more accessible to a different array of users.

Beyond these two messages, we want to acknowledge that the City is tackling this work from multiple angles. We understand that the Committee will also review the report on reviewing and updating NSPs from a climate and fiscal perspective on the June 18 Urban Planning Committtee meeting. This work will also enhance active transportation and transit infrastructure decision-making when building out new communities. The City should use every tool it has available to it to work towards the City Plan target of a transportation mode shift to 50% of trips being made by active transportation and transit. These tools include the plans themselves (the District Plans and NSPs) as well as the standards the City uses to determine whether further development is feasible (the Substantial Completion Standard). It also includes funding, like Council’s historic investment in active transportation network expansion made this last budget cycle.

Ultimately, we are in support of Substantial Completion Standards, so that we can design our neighborhood streets to be public amenities of movement and enjoyment for all.

  1. (Note: Looking for the attachments we’ve mentioned? Visit, and navigate to the June 18, 2024 Urban Planning Committee agenda. Substantial Completion Standards & the associated attachments are linked under item 7.2). ↩︎