Environment and Climate Change

The natural environment and climate change resilience play a critical role in the health and wellbeing of our community. Natural areas like woodlands, wetlands, and creek corridors contribute to environmental health by replenishing groundwater, regulating flood waters, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and offering critical habitat for wildlife. These areas also provide cultural and economic opportunities for recreation, nature appreciation, tourism, research, and education.

The Official Plan review provides an opportunity for the city to strengthen and update our environment and climate change policies to reflect Provincial and Regional policy changes, new local master plans, advances in climate research and modelling, and best practices. Forward thinking policies are required for the continued adaptation and transformational change needed to address this issue.

More detail is available in the Environment and Climate Change issue brief, including:

Existing Conditions/Initiatives

  • Our region is projected to become "warmer, wetter and wilder"
  • Achieving an 80% reduction in our emissions by 2050 will require transformational change
  • Waterloo is preparing for a changing climate
  • Waterloo’s natural heritage system supports local biodiversity and can help us reduce our vulnerability to climate change


Strategic Directions

  • Integrate mitigation and adaptation considerations into all long term policy and development and infrastructure planning
  • Support low impact, energy efficient, and climate resilient development
  • Facilitate adoption of appropriate community energy systems
  • Plan for compact, mixed use, and walkable communities
  • Support public transit, active transportation, and zero-emission vehicle infrastructure
  • Identify and protect significant natural areas and their ecological functions


Policy Considerations

  • Align with Provincial and Regional policy directions
  • Align policies with city master plans and strategies
  • Review policies pertaining to the built environment
  • Implement goals and actions of the corporate and community-focused climate change plans and the Community Energy Investment Strategy.
  • Update the natural heritage system mapping with the best available data sources
  • Identify additional actions that are needed to achieve broader natural heritage objectives
  • Review and clarify floodplain policies
  • Review holding provision policies that guide implementation of floodplain policies
  • Review and update source water protection policies and mapping


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