The Region of Waterloo has a long history of balancing growth with environmental planning and stewardship of the Region's natural areas.
The Region began work on a Greenlands Strategy - an overall environmental master plan for Waterloo Region - in 2003 as part of the Regional Growth Management Strategy. This work was done in partnership with the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA), the seven Area Municipalities in Waterloo Region, the Province, the municipalities that border Waterloo Region and local landowners.
The goal of the Greenlands Strategy is to guide the Region's efforts to maintain and restore Waterloo Region's significant environmental features and the linkages among them.
The work completed to date on the Greenlands Strategy was used to develop the environmental planning policies in the new Regional Official Plan (ROP) to ensure these valuable environmental resources are protected for the future.
The Greenlands Network
As part of the Greenlands Strategy, work was completed to identify Waterloo Region's Greenlands Network. The Greenlands Network includes the significant environmental features in Waterloo Region, and the linkages between them, such as:
- Areas designated as Environmentally Sensitive Landscapes (ESLs) or Environmentally Sensitive Policy Areas (ESPAs)
- Significant wildlife habitats
- Environmental corridors
- Groundwater recharge areas
The Greenlands Network, and the ecological functions it provides, is an essential element of the environmental health of Waterloo Region and the Grand River watershed. Chapter 7 of the ROP contains policies designed to help the Region identify, designate, maintain, enhance or, wherever possible, restore the environmental features that make up the Greenlands Network.
For example, the Regional Official Plan (ROP) regulates what businesses can locate on land within areas designated as an Environmentally Sensitive Landscape, or what studies landowners must complete as part of their plans to develop land in or near the Greenlands Network.
The Greenlands Network Implementation Guideline
The Greenlands Network Implementation Guidelineis now being prepared to help implement the ROP policies related to the Greenland Network. The draft Guideline builds upon the 2002 "Guideline for the Preparation of Environmental Impact Statements."