Rural & Urban Land

Made up of the cities of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo as well as the Townships of North Dumfries, Wellesley, Wilmot and Woolwich, Waterloo Region offers residents and visitors a perfect blend of vibrant urban centres and thriving rural communities.

In this section you'll learn about the new Regional Official Plan and other Regional programs that are helping us protect, manage, promote and enhance our community's unique urban/rural blend.


Regional Official Plan (ROP)

The Regional Official Plan (ROP) contains the planning policies needed to direct growth and change in Waterloo Region over the next 20 years. Through the ROP, the Region will continue its tradition of innovative planning and growth management.


Key elements of the Regional Official Plan are:

  • A fixed border between rural and urban areas;
  • Directing growth to make better use of land within the built up areas of the Region;
  • Increasing transportation choice, including the creation of a rapid transit system;
  • Protecting our drinking water and significant environmental areas; and
  • Increasing the quality of life of citizens in Waterloo Region.


The ROP was developed over four years in consultation with community groups, area municipalities and agencies, and the general public. It is a legal document, required by the Provincial Planning Act, that combines the broad policy and regulatory framework established by the Province of Ontario with the community planning goals, objectives and policies developed by the Region and the seven area municipalities to ensure Waterloo Region is a sustainable and livable community. All future land-use development, transportation and infrastructure within Waterloo Region must conform to the policies, goals and objectives of the ROP.


What does 'sustainable' mean?

Sustainability involves balancing the needs of current and future generations. The ROP contains policies that will help to balance the cultural, economic, environmental and social needs of Waterloo Region by:

  • Protecting and enhancing the natural environment;
  • Fostering a strong sense of place and community by keeping elements of the past and providing new opportunities for cultural expression; and
  • Providing the infrastructure and services needed to support a diverse and growing economy.

What does 'livable' mean?

A livable community is well-designed, accommodates people at all stages of life, offers a variety of employment opportunities and provides easy access to shopping, health care, educational, recreational and other services to meet daily needs.