Municipality: Joint Municipalities Implementation: 2011-01-01
Policy Name: Pearson Eco-Business Zone Policy Toolkit Contact: Chandra Sharma, MCIP RPP
Department: Toronto and Region Conservation Authority – Etob Title: Watershed Specialist (Etobicoke-Mimico) & Senior M
Community profile:

Partners in Project Green is a growing community of businesses working together to green their bottom line by creating an internationally recognized green business zone in the area surrounding the Toronto Pearson International Airport.  The Pearson Eco-Business Zone includes over 12,000 hectares of employment lands surrounding the Toronto Pearson International Airport and is home to approximately 12,500 businesses employing over 300,000 people.

Through new forms of business-to-business collaboration, Partners in Project Green delivers programming that helps businesses reduce energy and resource costs, uncover new business opportunities, and address everyday operational challenges in a green and cost-effective manner. To meet this vision, Partners in Project Green developed a strategy based on pursuing action in ten key areas. These ten eco-opportunities include: green purchasing blocks, eco-efficiency audits, smart commute initiatives, waste  reuse projects, district energy, coordinated green building retrofits, municipal policy harmonization, business park sustainability benchmarking, green business retention and attraction strategy, business best practices, education and outreach programs, greenspace expansion and stormwater improvements.

Partners in Project Green was established by Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA); Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA); Region of Peel; City of Toronto; City of Mississauga; and City of Brampton. Partners in Project Green is being managed by TRCA.  

Short Description:

This toolkit, a joint initiative between the  Region of Peel, City of Brampton, City of Mississauga, and City of Toronto, includes primers on 1) Links between Ontario Planning Policy and Partners in Project Green, 2) Eco-Business Zone Municipal Incentives, 3) Fast Tracking Eco-Business Zone Applications: How to Get Started and 4) Using Development Permits To Promote Eco-Business Zone Activity.  


The “Pearson Eco-Business Zone Policy Toolkit” provides many resources including policy direction, answers to questions, training materials, eco-business best practices, tips on leveraging legislation and regulations, steps for implementing green business initiatives and more. The information targets various municipal departments, notably the Planning & Development, Engineering and Public Works and Economic Development department.    It includes primers on:

1)     Links between Ontario Planning Policy and Partners in Project Green - This primer provides an overview of key pieces of Provincial legislation that might be used to support Partners in Project Green and eco-business zone activity. This primer is meant for high level information only and does not represent any legal opinion on the interpretation of the referenced legislation.

2)     Eco-Business Zone Municipal Incentives - Municipal governments can use incentives to support eco-business zone activity and motivate Pearson Eco-Business Zone companies to support the goals of Partners in Project Green, from retrofitting green building to participating in a large waste reutilization network.  Incentives can help to address any real incremental costs associated with new green practices, or they can simply motivate behavioural change when there are perceived additional costs or general aversion to risk for innovation.

3)     Fast Tracking Eco-Business Zone Applications: How to Get Started - Expediting applications for green development, rezonings, subdivisions or building permits can provide an incentive for developers to meet desired sustainability criteria, as time saved in the approvals process can reduce overall project costs. This tool can also help municipalities establish clear expectations to provide guidance to developers and also offer a tangible incentive for helping municipalities achieve their own sustainability objectives.

4)     Using Development Permits To Promote Eco-Business Zone Activity - This tool describes how the new Development Permit System powers under the Planning Act might be adapted to support eco-business zone activity and Partners in Project Green goals.  Although a Development Permit System is a significant and complex planning tool to develop, it can offer a number of potential advantages over existing development review procedures, including:

a.     Streamlining the development process and reducing approvals timelines;

b.     Flexible approach to permitted and discretionary uses;

c.     Allowing approval criteria and conditions that support greater environmental protection;

d.     Community involvement; and

e.     Guidance regarding good design and compatible development.

It also provides policy template and template language for:

1)     Eco-Business Zone Policy Statement- is a general policy statement that municipal partners can adopt and integrate at the next scheduled Official Plan update. In the interim, it can also serve as a guiding statement that can be shared with different departments (e.g. economic development, planning, engineering, and others) to coordinate activities and messaging between and within the partner municipalities.

2)     Potential Eco-Business Zone Official Plan Policies – provides model eco-business policy language to express municipal partners’ interest in seeing employment lands developed and managed in a manner that meets eco-business objectives.  Policy language below is aligned with the EBZ principles.

3)     Considerations for Eco-Business Zone Development Standards - Development Standards and Design Guidelines are effective tools used by municipalities to ensure that sustainability objectives are met by development projects. Although municipalities might have different terminology for these tools, they serve a common purpose: Development Standards (such as the Toronto Green Standard) and Design Guidelines (such as Brampton’s forthcoming Sustainable Development Guidelines) provide an integrated set of performance measures, principles and targets, to promote innovative and desirable forms of development (such as green design, high quality urban design, and crime prevention through environmental design).

4)     Eco-Business Zone Development Screening Tool - is a checklist meant to provide development approvals officers with questions to consider and put forward to developers at the pre-application stage. This tool can be used to determine how the development proposal might meet the Partners in Project Green Strategy objectives and potentially support activity undertaken by other Project Teams.

5)      Eco-Business Subdivision Planning and Servicing Requirement- is designed to help applicants and subdivision approvals staff create subdivision plans and designs that promote eco-business activity.  And

6)    Glossary of Eco-Business and Sustainability Terms - provides commonly used terms in the context of eco-business, eco-industrial and green business activity. This is an initial list that is intended to be expanded over time as municipalities encounter new material. 

Step by Step Process:

The Policy Toolkit was developed using the following methodology:

1. Policy Review: Policy documents from the Cities of Toronto, Mississauga and Brampton and Region of Peel were reviewed, including materials from Planning and Development, Engineering and Public Works, and Economic Development.

2. Identify Best Practices: Selected research and review of other eco-business initiatives and eco-industrial parks in Canada and abroad formed the basis of several case studies. Best practices were synthesized from the common elements and key developments identified in the case studies.

3. Consultation: Eco-business best practices were presented to municipal partners in workshops to obtain feedback, including identifying local policies that conformed to the eco-business best practices, as well as potential barriers or gaps. The workshops also provided an opportunity to explore which policy tools were of greatest relevance and interest to each municipal partner.

4. Develop Draft Content: Feedback was synthesized to address concerns, areas of interest and knowledge gaps expressed throughout the consultation period. The draft was reviewed by the Partners in Project Green Policy Harmonization Team.

5. Prepare Policy Tools: Based on the previous steps, each tool underwent rigorous review by municipal partners to ensure the final product was relevant and effective.

Primary Drivers:

A ‘whole system’ perspective of activity within an Eco-Business Zone is fundamental to effectively implement programs, incentives, business collaboration, networking, economic development strategies and other eco-opportunities. The Pearson Eco-Business Zone encompasses four separate municipal planning authorities, each with their own planning and development frameworks. Therefore, harmonizing municipal development policies, regulations and standards within the Pearson Eco-Business Zone was a primary driver. The Pearson Eco-Business Zone municipalities, just like municipalities across Canada, are constantly adapting their policies and regulations in an effort to reflect the latest lessons learned in their individual and collective pursuit of sustainability. Sometimes, municipal planning policies and regulations are even found to inadvertently create barriers to specific eco-business practices.

The Policy Toolkit tools focus on identifying policies, regulations, and incentives that have been effective in eco-business zone projects, and identifying successful community or residential-focused sustainability policies, regulations, and incentives that might be adapted for an eco-business zone context.

Secondary Drivers:

While the toolkit was developed for the Pearson Eco-Business Zone, it can be utilized by other municipalities seeking to support green development and/or harmonize policies with surrounding municipalities.  Each of the Partners in Project Green municipalities’ jurisdictions extends far beyond the Pearson Eco-Business Zone, including other employment lands. Therefore, the policies, regulations and incentives developed for the Pearson Eco-Business Zone can be adapted or expanded to support sustainability in other employment land areas. The Pearson Eco-Business Zone provides a well-defined area in which to pilot far-reaching municipal innovation.


The toolkit was developed with assistance from the Green Municipal Fund, a Fund financed by the Government of Canada and administered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.


The toolkit was prepared by Eco-Industrial Solutions, Ltd. of Vancouver.  Eco-Industrial Solutions is a leading eco-industrial networking consulting firm in North America, and are leaders in the application of eco-industrial networking to foster sustainability and particularly sustainable industrial development.


TRCA staff members involved in managing the project were Chandra Sharma, Watershed Specialist, Etobicoke-Mimico Watersheds; Chris Rickett, Senior Project Manager, Partners in Project Green; and Jennifer Taves, Coordinator, Partners in Project Green. 

The Policy Harmonization Team directed the work and vetted the tools. This team includes Susan Jorgenson, City of Brampton; Jane Welsh, City of Toronto; Mark Head, Region of Peel; Jelena Friscic, Region of Peel; Gail Anderson, Region of Peel; Scott Arbuckle, IBI Group; Suzan Hall, City of Toronto; Lino Molito, Orlando Corp; Blair Wolk, Orlando Corp; Jaime Austin, Ontario Growth Secretariat; Scott Armstrong, MMM Group; and, Jaipaul Singh, Brampton Board of Trade. Consultants for the study were Tracy Casavant and Jaspal Marwah from Eco-Industrial Solutions.


  • The Pearson Eco-Business Zone is governed by three local municipalities and one regional municipality and attaining sustainability goals related to land-use are difficult.
  •  The Policy Toolkit needed to clarify existing land-use issues and policies in the Pearson Eco-Business Zone, by working with PPG’s municipal partners and assisting them in developing harmonized green business land-use policies across the area. This involved assisting them in harmonizing policies among the four Official Plans and three Zoning Bylaws that regulated the Pearson Eco-Business Zone. 
  •  The viability of the Policy Toolkit templates and tools were evaluated and tested through extensive and ongoing consultation with affected stakeholders, including municipalities and the development community. A minor challenge faced was obtaining feedback from all stakeholders in a timely fashion.  Due to competing schedules and timelines, the project was delayed at points. 



  • The Policy Toolkit will provide a solid framework for policy harmonization across municipal boundaries to remove barriers and promote green business development, energy efficiency and renewable energy.
  • The Policy Toolkit’s information policies developed for the area could be exported to other municipalities in Canada looking to green their industrial base, realize reduced energy consumption, and promote new business opportunities.
  •  The Policy Toolkit tools supports sustainability goals (energy reduction, renewable energy, improved water quality, increased employment densities etc.) outlined in the sustainable community plan “Partners in Project Green – A Pearson Eco-Business Zone Strategy”. The Partners in Project Green Strategy highlights numerous eco-business opportunities to be pursued as part of the implementation of Partners in Project Green. 


The implementation of efficient land-use policies will develop numerous opportunities to meet sustainability goals consistent with eco-business zone activities:

  •  Improved Air Quality – improved site plan, subdivision guidelines and building requirements, could help promote site designs that promote passive solar heating, energy efficient buildings, reduced road right-of-ways, and improved traffic movement, all of which will help meet transportation and energy targets provided in the strategy.
  •   Improved Water Quality – existing Zoning Bylaws and right-of-ways in the Pearson Eco-Business area currently constrain the ability of companies to be innovative in dealing with waste-water and stormwater generated on their sites, altering these policies could permit improved onsite stormwater treatment and waste-water cascade systems between businesses, both of which are promoted in the Partners in Project Green Strategy.
  •   Expanded Natural Heritage Systems – improved site design and subdivision guidelines could promote the expansion of the natural heritage systems in the Pearson Eco-Business Zone.
  •   Increased Deployment Of Renewable Energy - the existing Zoning Bylaws and right-of-ways in the Pearson Eco-Business area currently constrain the implementation of alternative energy generation, such as solar photovoltaic and district energy. Addressing these issues will allow businesses to pursue renewable energy projects much more easily than under the current policies.
  •  Increased employment densities – improved land-use policies promoting green business provide a way to increase employment densities, while promoting new green business start-ups.
  •  Financial savings from streamlined municipal processes relating to land use and development applications. Reduced administrative costs and staff time.
  •  Greater understanding of how sustainability can be integrated into business area development.
  •  Increased tax revenue for the local municipality through the promotion of green business.
  •  Increased revenue for local businesses as a result of reduced operating and processing costs.
  •   New revenue opportunities for businesses as a result of the implementation of renewable energies and new business start-ups taking advantage of the green and business friendly land-use policies of the Pearson Eco-Business Zone.
  •   Social benefits include protection of human health through reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and increased green space enhancement, as well as improved economic opportunities for citizens within the region as the employment area’s resilience is expanded to meet current and future job needs. 

Lessons Learned:

We encourage cross-departmental involvement in tool development.  Often each tool impacts multiple areas, and to ensure it serves the needs of all involved participation from all departments is required. We would also advise the inclusion of the development community.  As they interact with policies and bylaws from a different access point, they can provide valuable insights into successful harmonization of green development processes.

Factors to consider:

·         Realistic time expectations - vetting of the tools often took longer than anticipated due to the many stakeholders participating in the process.  While this ensured rigorous development, time allotted for feedback delivery was often inadequate.

·         Scoping - during development, it became clear that in order to receive a tool that would provide value to the municipalities, a larger scope was required than originally anticipated.

Best practices include:

·         Utilize a team consisting of municipal representatives and development industry representatives to vet tools for efficacy and relevancy.

·         Engage a consultancy firm with strong political experience and subject matter expertise (in this case eco-business development).

Applicability Across Ontario:

Beyond the Pearson Eco-Business Zone, the policies developed for the area could be exported to other municipalities in Canada looking to green their industrial base and promote new business opportunities. The Policy Toolkit includes policy templates and other tools that can be shared with other planning and economic development departments so they too can push the bar for sustainability development and green economic opportunities.

Although the Policy Toolkit is designed to meet the demands of municipal partners, businesses within the Pearson Eco-Business Zone will benefit by having access to reliable sources of knowledge on green business technologies and policies to support their implementation. Those businesses often have operations in other municipalities and can promote the activities of the Pearson Eco-Business Zone elsewhere.

Similar Tools Used by Other Municipalities:

There are several examples of municipalities who have attempted to create eco-industrial or green industrial retrofit projects across North America. The Policy Toolkit highlights three from Canada and three from outside Canada in the United States and Australia.

 Alberta is the province that is home to the first two new eco-industrial parks in Canada; policies adopted to foster those developments are relevant to redevelopment, new development, and ongoing operations in Pearson Eco-Business Zone. The City of Edmonton has committed to widespread policy changes to foster eco-industrial activity in new and renewal settings. In addition, there are at least two private development corporations in Ontario that are planning to incorporate eco-industrial design guidelines to shape their industrial park developments. In British Columbia, the Corporation of Delta recently launched a project to develop eco-industrial design guidelines for a portion of its employment lands.

To develop the Policy Toolkit tools, policy documents from the Cities of Toronto, Mississauga and Brampton and Region of Peel were reviewed, including materials from Planning and Development, Engineering and Public Works, and Economic Development.

Further Information:

Chandra Sharma, MCIP RPP
Watershed Specialist, Etobicoke-Mimico & Senior Manager, Climate Programs
Toronto and Region Conservation
5 Shoreham Drive, Toronto ON M3N 1S4
Phone: 416-661-6600 x 5237
Fax: 416-667-6278




The Pearson Eco-Business Zone Policy Toolkit can be accessed at . Direct links to each tool are listed below.

·         Policy Toolkit Overview:

·         Communications Tool – Overview of Partners in Project Green for Municipal Staff:

·         Primer – Links between Ontario Planning Policy and Partners in Project Green:

·         Primer – Using Development Permits to Promote Eco-Business Zone Activity:

·         Primer – Eco-Business Zone Municipal Incentives:

·         Fast Tracking Eco-Business Zone Applications: How To Get Started:

·         Policy Templates/Template Language – Glossary of Eco-Business and Sustainability Terms:

·         Policy Templates/Template Language – Eco-Business Zone Policy Statement:

·         Policy Templates/Template Language – Potential Municipal Eco-Business Zone Official Plan Policies

·         Policy Templates/Template Language – Considerations for Eco-Business Zone Development Standards:

·         Policy Templates/Template Language – Eco-Business Zone Development Screening Tool:

·         Policy Templates/Template Language – Eco-Business Subdivision Planning and Servicing Requirement:

Case Studies – Eco-Business Zone Policy Case Studies:

Policy Document: 2- Primers- Using Development Permits to Promote
3- Primers_Eco Biz Zone Municipal Incentives.pdf
4- Primers_Fast Tracking EBZ Apps.pdf
5- Policy Templates_Glossary of EcoBiz and Sustain
6- Policy Templates_EBZ Policy Statement.pdf
7- Policy Templates_Potential Municipal EBZ OP Pol
8- Policy Templates_Considerations for EBZ Develo