Updating the Regional Official Plan

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Schematic graphic logo representing growth

What is this project about?

Waterloo Region is growing. Our population is expected to reach 923,000 people and 470,000 jobs by the year 2051, and we want your ideas on how and where to grow! We are currently reviewing the Regional Official Plan (ROP), a key document that guides long-term growth and development in the Region to 2051.

How do I get involved?

We know people living and working in the region are passionate and eager to help shape future community growth. We encourage you to comment on project updates, ask questions or attend a public meeting to have your say.

This page will be updated regularly with project updates and opportunities to interact with the Project Team. Feel free to ask questions using the Q&A tab below.

Visit the Region's ROP main homepage for more information.

What are the key elements of the ROP review?

This review builds on the existing ROP, and will look at:

  • how and where our cities and townships might grow;
  • what kind of housing we should build;
  • how to continue to host a variety of jobs that residents need;
  • how to protect farmland, our environment and plan for climate change.

Stay tuned for more opportunities to share your ideas. If you have questions about the ROP go to the Q&A tab below.

What is this project about?

Waterloo Region is growing. Our population is expected to reach 923,000 people and 470,000 jobs by the year 2051, and we want your ideas on how and where to grow! We are currently reviewing the Regional Official Plan (ROP), a key document that guides long-term growth and development in the Region to 2051.

How do I get involved?

We know people living and working in the region are passionate and eager to help shape future community growth. We encourage you to comment on project updates, ask questions or attend a public meeting to have your say.

This page will be updated regularly with project updates and opportunities to interact with the Project Team. Feel free to ask questions using the Q&A tab below.

Visit the Region's ROP main homepage for more information.

What are the key elements of the ROP review?

This review builds on the existing ROP, and will look at:

  • how and where our cities and townships might grow;
  • what kind of housing we should build;
  • how to continue to host a variety of jobs that residents need;
  • how to protect farmland, our environment and plan for climate change.

Stay tuned for more opportunities to share your ideas. If you have questions about the ROP go to the Q&A tab below.

  • Update on Employment Land Conversion Requests

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    The Region is in the process of identifying Employment Areas in the Regional Official Plan (for more information click here). Part of this process is to review and evaluate requests to convert specific parcels (or areas) that are currently designated for employment to permit non-employment uses. This is referred to as an employment land conversion. Non-employment uses could include residential, mixed use, commercial, and institutional uses.

    As of September 9th, 2020, the Region has received 38 landowner requests for employment land conversions, as well as requests from the area municipalities, as illustrated on this map. We want to hear from the general public on if they support or oppose each conversion request by October 16, 2020. We'd also like the submission proponent to confirm that the mapping of their request is correct by September 25th, 2020.

    Please click here to view the map and let us know if you have any feedback regarding the landowner and municipal conversion requests using commenting pins.


    Conversion Process / Next Steps

    Over the course of this Fall, Regional staff will begin to review and evaluate each request against the conversion criteria and review the public's input, in collaboration with area municipal staff. Once initial recommendations have been determined, the Region will meet with the landowners of each request to provide the results of the evaluation process and receive any further information. It is important to note that municipal requests will be evaluated against the same conversion criteria. Regional staff will then provide recommendations to Regional Council on each request. Any Council approved conversion will not be included within the Region’s Employment Area.

  • Invitation to a research symposium on the implications of COVID-19 for the Regional Official Plan (ROP) - August 18, 2020

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    07 August, 2020
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    We'd like to invite you to participate in a virtual research symposium on the potential effects of COVID-19 on the Regional Official Planning Process. Please join the Region of Waterloo, in partnership with the University of Waterloo's Faculty of Environment, on August 18, 2020 from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

    With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in light of the ROP review process currently underway, the Region wanted to re-examine our assumptions regarding the appropriate policy response for development in Waterloo Region: How has the pandemic changed things in our community, and how could we shift our development policies to address this change? More specifically, we are asking:

    • If our public infrastructure can weather the COVID-19 storm?

    • How could we adapt our region to ensure that we plan for vibrant, compact centres with a re-envisioned public environment for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders?

    • What are the implications in Waterloo Region for housing?

    • How do we ensure resilient food systems in the region?

    • What do lessons from the COVID-19 lockdown teach us about tackling the climate and biodiversity crises?

    To further explore these ideas and questions, the Region of Waterloo has partnered with the University of Waterloo to commission a series of papers that attempt to link the effects of the pandemic relative to some theme areas in the ROP, including:

    • The economy and the way we work;
    • Infrastructure, including water/wastewater, roads and transportation;
    • Density and housing; and,
    • Social and environmental implications.

    The papers will consider the current policy objectives relating to their area of research and aim to design a logical, thoughtful response to the implications of the pandemic for the ROP. With the initial research now complete, we are hosting a virtual research symposium to review the findings and recommendations. We are eager to hear feedback from the community on the research and how it could inform the ROP policies.

    Approximately 45 minutes will be spent discussing the research from each of the thematic areas. To register for the symposium, please visit the registration page.

    The agenda and abstracts for each of the research papers are now available. For the agenda, please click here and for the abstracts, please click here.

  • New Environmental Mapping and Commenting Deadline Extended

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    24 July, 2020
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    It's a busy time behind the scenes for the ROP team and we have three updates and a reminder for everyone.

    First, we are seeking feedback on our draft Core Environmental Features mapping, part of the Natural Heritage System. The due date for comments is August 31, 2020.

    The Core Environmental Features include Significant Woodlands and Environmentally Sensitive Policy Areas (ESPAs) which are identified by the Region, as well as Provincially Significant Wetlands and Habitat of Endangered and Threatened Species, which are identified by the Province.

    Over the last ten years, there have been changes to the Core Environmental Features based on the completion of detailed assessments, site visits, or review of aerial photographs. Overall, there have not been significant changes in the mapping, but some areas have been modified, and we are seeking your input on the changes. Specifically, we would like you to let us know if there are any changes that need to be made to the boundaries for Environmentally Sensitive Policy Areas and Significant Woodlands that you do not see in the revised mapping.

    In addition to the changes presented in the draft mapping, there are various ongoing processes which may also result in changes to the draft mapping as it is currently proposed. These processes include Environmental Impact Statements for specific sites, as well as more comprehensive reviews and work such as the City of Kitchener’s Comprehensive review of the zoning by-law (CRoZBy). Final mapping is anticipated to be provided by the end of this year.

    The two (2) layers that we are currently looking for input on include:
    1. the ROP Review ESPA layers, and,
    2. the ROP Review Significant Woodland layers.

    These layers can be compared to the existing mapping by activating the layers “ROP 2015 ESPA” and “ROP 2015 Significant Woodlands”.

    To use the mapping to compare the current and proposed feature limits, different features, or existing mapping, ‘layers’ can be activated in the “Layer List”. To do this, choose the “Layer List” icon (looks like a stack of four sheets of paper) on the top of the map in order to open a 'layer'. The layers that are identified with the “ROP Review” name indicate draft mapping that we are seeking input on. Layers that include “ROP 2015” in their name indicate that they are existing mapped features in the ROP.

    HOW TO ADD A COMMENT ON THE MAP:
    a) To add a comment, you can use the “edit” feature (the pencil and paper icon located on the top left side of the screen.)

    b) If you would like a comment to be associated with a specific property, you can zoom into the area of interest first by searching for an address in the “Find address or place” search bar at the top left side, or by using the “+” or “-“ buttons to navigate into an area of interest.

    c) Once you find the location you would like to have the comment apply to, click on the pencil and paper icon to open a dialog box.

    d) In the dialog box, click on the red point that is labeled “Notes”, then click on the property or area that your comments apply. The following fields can be filled in through this feature: Notes; Contact Name (optional); Contact Number/Email (optional); Address of Property.

    e) Once the notes are entered, click the “x” to close the box, and the comments will be sent directly to Regional staff. Comments will not appear on the map and cannot be seen by other users. We would also welcome input on any of the other natural environment mapping that is included in the ROP, and which can be seen through the online mapping. Instructions for providing comments directly through the mapping software are included above, or you can also provide comments by email to RegionalOfficialPlanReview@regionofwaterloo.ca.

    Second, we have added 3 items from the Ask-a-Planner Webinar (June 25, 2020):

    1. A video of the presentation (top right corner of your screen)
    2. A PDF of the presentation slide deck (in Document Library)
    3. A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document based on questions received during the webinar (in Document Library)

    Third, we have extended the commenting deadline for the following items from July 31, 2020 to August 15, 2020:

    1. The six-question survey about growth in Waterloo Region
    2. The interactive mapping for the proposed boundaries for ION Rapid Transit Stations


    Finally, a reminder that the employment map is still online and the employment land conversion requests are due on July 31, 2020.


  • New Survey and Interactive Mapping Activity

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    26 June, 2020
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    A new five to 10 minute survey is available ("Six Questions about Growth in Waterloo Region") as well as an interactive mapping activity regarding the proposed boundaries for the ION Rapid Transit Stations. Both of these activities will be available until July 31, 2020. If you have a few minutes, we would really like to hear your thoughts on growth in Waterloo Region, particularly as they related to density and intensification.

  • Employment Land Conversion Submission Requested by July 31, 2020

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    23 June, 2020
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    The Regional Official Plan (ROP) Review is currently underway. It provides an opportunity to assess the Region’s employment lands, which may prohibit non-employment uses such as residential, commercial, or institutional uses. One aspect of this assessment is to identify employment lands may be better suited for non-employment uses.


    The Region is inviting land owners to submit requests for properties that are currently designated for employment to be converted to permit non-employment uses. Please refer to the employment land map to determine if your property is designated for employment.


    Please submit requests electronically to RegionalOfficialPlanReview@regionofwaterloo.ca by July 31, 2020 with the following information:


    • Municipal address(es) and a map clearly outlining the area to be considered;
    • Property description, including the past/current uses and site characteristics that may make it unsuitable for employment use;
    • Proposed non-employment use, with as much detail as possible; and
    • Rationale for the conversion request.


    All requests will be reviewed and evaluated against conversion criteria the Region as developed, which is based on Provincial policies and Regional objectives. Please note there is no guarantee that requests will result in a Regional staff’s recommendation and/or Council’s decision to convert employment lands to non-employment uses.


    This employment land assessment is being conducted under the ROP Review, which will fulfill the Municipal Comprehensive Review requirements of the Provincial Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.


    Submissions should be received by July 31, 2020.


    To speak to project staff or to submit a request, please contact:


    Alyssa Bridge

    Supervisor, Regional Official Plan Review

    Planning Development and Legislative Services

    Regional Municipality of Waterloo,

    150 Frederick Street, 8th Floor,

    Kitchener, ON N2G 4J3

    Phone: 519-580-3948

    Email: RegionalOfficialPlanReview@regionofwaterloo.ca



  • Ask-a-Planner Webinar - Thursday, June 25, 2020, 6-8 p.m.

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    10 June, 2020
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    Grow with Us! Have your say!

    Waterloo Region - let's start talking numbers. We are going virtual for our second round of public engagement on the Regional Official Plan (ROP) Review.

    Please click here to register for the Ask-a-Planner Webinar, to be held on Thursday, June 25, 2020, from 6-8 p.m. NEW information about intensification, density, and major transit station areas will be presented. There will be opportunities to ask questions throughout the webinar. Please note that the presentation portion of the webinar will be recorded and then posted (early July) on this Engage page.

    We look forward to a great conversation on opportunities for growth.

    Can't wait to share your thoughts? Tell us now on social media using #talkinggrowth

  • Regional Official Plan Review Continues

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    05 May, 2020
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    The Regional Official Plan Review (ROPR) team continues to work on updating the plan and currently we are:

    • finalizing the employment conversion criteria, which will be shared on this site and sent directly to those on our notification list;
    • continuing to work with our Area Municipal colleagues to map more specific areas around the 27 existing and planned Major Transit Station Areas; and,
    • working towards a preliminary Land Needs Assessment (LNA) and preliminary growth scenarios - this information will also be shared on this site and through some form of public consultation.

    Our team has been thinking of new ways to share information instead of in-person public consultation events. We welcome any suggestions you may have for how to inclusively continue public engagement for this project while practicing physical distancing.

    The ROPR team is always available to answer any of your project questions. (RegionalOfficialPlanReview@regionofwaterloo.ca).

  • Minor mapping revisions and an extended deadline

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    31 January, 2020
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    Welcome to 2020! We are excited about the new year and all the upcoming work that we will be sharing with you as the ROP review progresses.

    Please note: there have been minor revisions to the three display boards that were presented at the first round of Public Open Houses from November 18 to December 4, 2019 (to reflect an ongoing Local Appeal Planning Tribunal matter - PL180728). The fundamental information on the display boards remains the same.

    Also, the deadline for comments on the proposed delineation for the Regional Recharge Area in the Southwest Kitchener Policy Area has been extended to April 1, 2020. Feedback on the proposed mapping for the RRA can be submitted directly to ABridge@regionofwaterloo.ca.

    As always, please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.


  • January 17, 2020 Deadline for Feedback - Employment Land Conversion Criteria, Regional Recharge Area (in southwest Kitchener) and Candidate Agricultural Areas

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    20 December, 2019
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    The first round of Open Houses are complete and we were pleased to be able to talk to so many community members about growth within Waterloo Region.

    If you were unable to come to one of the Open Houses, or still have some thoughts that you'd like to share with us on:

    • the draft employment land conversion criteria;
    • the proposed criteria for the Candidate Areas in the Agricultural Land Base; and,
    • the proposed mapping of the Regional Recharge Area (RRA) in the Southwest Kitchener Policy Area;

    please do so by January 17, 2020. Feedback on the employment land criteria and agricultural land base can be submitted through this survey. Feedback on the proposed mapping for the RRA can be submitted directly to ABridge@regionofwaterloo.ca.

    We will then review the information received, continue to work on the technical analyses that will feed into our Land Needs Assessment, and anticipate being ready for another round of public consultation by Spring 2020.
    • The draft employment land conversion criteria, based on criteria provided in the province's A Place to Grow, can be seen on the Open House Display Boards (board #10). After the January 17, 2020 deadline for feedback, we will finalize the criteria, and then publish a public notice regarding the submission of employment conversion requests, providing a 60 day window for submissions.

    • The proposed criteria and the draft mapping, using direction from this provincial publication, can be seen on the Open House Display Boards (boards 16 and 17). Based on the feedback we receive, Regional staff will present updated information at the next round of public consultation in Spring 2020.

    • The proposed delineation (mapping) of the Regional Recharge Area in the Southwest Kitchener Policy Area can be seen on the Open House Display Boards (boards 12 and 13) and the technical information upon which the proposed delineation (mapping) can be accessed here or here. Based on the feedback we receive, Regional staff will present the recommended mapping to Regional Council in 2020.

  • ROP Review open house reminder and some new information posted

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    25 November, 2019
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    The first round of the “Talking Growth” public Open Houses has begun and there are still three more opportunities to join us:

    · Wednesday, November 27, 2019 at Cambridge City Hall, 4 – 8 p.m.

    · Thursday November 28, 2019 at the Wilmot Recreational Complex, 4 – 8 p.m.

    · Wednesday, December 4, 2019, at the Heidelberg Community Centre, 4:30 – 8 p.m.

    In the Document Library, we have also posted the open house display boards, in addition to some technical information about the proposed delineation (boundary) of the Regional Recharge Area in the Southwest Kitchener Policy Area.

    Please feel free to browse through the new information, or drop by an upcoming Open House and chat with us about where we have been and where we want to go as a community into the future.