City Growth Structure and Form

Waterloo is a growing city with a young and well-educated population. The city’s high quality of life makes it an attractive place for people to live, work and learn. Our growth needs to be managed to ensure that Waterloo continues to be an attractive, functional and inclusive community, and that our community infrastructure is used efficiently. Management of growth and the opportunities it presents is a key function of the Official Plan.

Waterloo’s Official Plan outlines a particular hierarchy and urban structure, which are the main building blocks of the city. These structural components include:

  • Uptown Waterloo (also known as the Urban Growth Centre): the urban centre of the city, identified by the province as the focus area for growth as well as the civic and cultural centre of the city.
  • Major and Minor Nodes: generally located at intersection of major roads, these are mixed-use areas that allow for higher density development and may include commercial uses including grocery stores.
  • Major and Minor Corridors: these areas are generally located along major roads and transit routes in the city and connect nodes. Corridors also allow for higher density and mixed use development.

More recently, the city added land use policies for Major Transit Station Areas (MTSAs) for the areas around the ION LRT stops. The detailed land use policies for these areas identify where and what type of development is permitted, and include important land use considerations such urban design, compatible uses, and heights and densities.

More detail is available in the City Growth Structure and Form issue brief, including:

Existing Conditions/Initiatives

Strategic Directions

  • Continue to plan for projected residential and employment growth
  • Review and refine land use policies for remaining greenfield areas
  • Refine city structure to align with city, regional and provincial requirements

Policy Considerations

  • Planning for growth in strategic growth areas
  • Consider the policies and land use designations to enable services and facilities needed to support growth
  • Refine employment area framework to reflect boundary and policy changes
  • Refine commercial land use framework to ensure an appropriate mix and location of commercial land uses
  • Refine residential, commercial and employment land use designation policies reflect changing demographics and market trends
  • Strengthen urban design policies into the Official Plan in accordance with the Urban Design Manual

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