Regional Official Plan Update - December 15, 2021 Recommendation Report
- The Regional Official Plan (ROP) is a powerful planning tool that shapes and defines our community for future generations. It has guided decision making for profound transformation of this region including the addition of the ION light rail, protection of agricultural lands and the natural environment, and a high quality of life for residents.
- As this community is set to grow to reach 923,000 people and 470,000 jobs by 2051, we are working to update the plan to accommodate projected growth.
- This process was launched in October 2019 and has, to date, undergone consultation with stakeholders, area municipalities and residents.
- With the amendment for growth due to the Province by July 1, 2022, Regional staff are currently drafting policies, and working towards a Land Needs Assessment (LNA) for public input.
- To work towards meeting the Provincial deadline, staff recommend developing and consulting on a draft LNA based on a set of three growth scenarios that encompass moderate Community Area expansion, no Community Area Expansion, and an Excess Lands scenario.
At the November 9th Committee of the Whole meeting, representatives of developers and landowners brought forward concerns with the Region's general approach to completing the Land Needs Assessment (LNA), and other delegations from the community contended that the Region requires a growth scenario that better addresses climate change and agricultural land preservation, among other important planning priorities. In response to these concerns, Council passed two motions directing staff to: complete the LNA before presenting additional growth scenarios, and to prepare two additional growth scenarios with higher intensification rates.
In a report (Report CPL-PDL-49) to Council on the agenda for the December 15th meeting, staff confirm the Region is undertaking a land needs assessment in accordance with the Provincial methodology, and on the advice of consultants, recommend direction to continue to work towards meeting the Provincial deadline by developing and consulting on a draft LNA based on a set of three growth scenarios that encompass moderate Community Area expansion, no Community Area Expansion, and an Excess Lands scenario.
This revised approach would provide more detailed information to better evaluate each growth scenario, and address the concerns raised by the community with respect to the Region's potential future land needs. It also provides the best path forward for the Region to complete the municipal comprehensive review of the ROP before the Province's July 1, 2022 deadline. The three recommendations in the report are to request Regional Council to direct staff to:
- Develop a draft LNA using three modified growth scenarios as described in Report CPL-PDL-49;
- Consult on each of the three modified growth scenarios presented in this report with the area municipalities, Indigenous communities, key stakeholders, and the broader regional community once the draft LNA is available for review; and,
- Report back to Regional Council on the results of the community consultation, and recommend a preferred growth scenario for the final draft of the LNA.
If endorsed by Council, staff will proceed to develop a LNA using the three modified growth scenarios, which we anticipate completing in the first quarter of 2022. Following completion of the draft LNA, staff would consult on the assessment and report back to Council with the results of the public consultation. During this time, staff will also consult with the community on certain key policy areas, including Major Transit Station Areas, employment land, housing, cultural heritage, and the water system.
Please feel free to reach out to the ROP Review team if you have any questions (RegionalOfficialPlanReview@regionofwaterloo.ca).