Examples of Reurbanization

One of Region of Waterloo's key objectives is to manage and shape growth to ensure a livable, healthy, thriving and sustainable Waterloo Region.

Achieving more balanced growth means directing a greater share of new development to the existing urban areas to make better use of land, existing infrastructure and services. This also means building more compact, vibrant and complete communities, with walkable neighbourhoods and a better mix of employment, housing, shopping and services.

What is Reurbanization?

Reurbanization is growth and development that helps increase the number of people living and working within urban areas. There are four different approaches to reurbanization:

  • Infill: new development on formerly vacant land;
  • Intensification: expanding the use of an existing structure to increase the number of people who can live and work there;
  • Adaptive reuse: a change in the use of a structure, usually from commercial/industrial to residential, that results in more residences or jobs; and
  • Redevelopment: converting a site from one use to another, often involving some form of land assembly and/or demolition, which results in significantly higher number of people or jobs using the site than during its previous use.

Many of the key opportunities for reurbanization are associated with brownfields, which are vacant or underutilized properties that typically have environmental impacts associated with their previous use.

Reubanization Toolbox

The Region has a number of resources available to assist all those interested in reurbanization, including the Area Municipalities, stakeholders and the public. This "Reurbanization Toolbox" is made of five main categories (policy, implementation, facilitation, assistance and research) and will continue to be updated and refined over time.

 Category Resource

What are Benefits of Reurbanization?

Reurbanization can generate a number of social, environmental and economic benefits. These include:

  • Greater housing choice and improved affordability;
  • Enhanced protection of sensitive agricultural lands and environmental features;
  • Reduced capital expenditures;
  • Reduced need for costly infrastructure upgrades; and
  • Fewer contaminated sites.

Other benefits associated with reurbanization include:

  • Preservation of unique heritage features and resources through adaptive reuse,
  • Enhanced public safety by having more "eyes on the street",
  • Improved air quality resulting from reduced automobile dependency,
  • Improved public health as a result of more active lifestyles,
  • Improved quality of life, and
  • Greater tax-revenues resulting from new development.

In addition, reurbanization, particularly in the downtown core areas and along existing transit routes, provides:

  • A stimulus to local revitalization efforts;
  • Reduces automobile dependency; and
  • Will help boost transit ridership when the Rapid Transit system is implemented within the Central Transit Corridor (CTC).

What Does Reurbanization Look Like?

Examples of Reurbanization

Reurbanization can occur in just about any shape or size imaginable; from a small, one or two unit addition or infill project to a massive multi-unit redevelopment project occupying an entire city block. Reurbanization projects can also take different forms, and incorporate many different uses all under one roof. Residential lofts, both freehold and rental, and mixed-used developments that combine residential units, shopping, office space and institutional uses.

Many successful reurbanization projects have already occurred within Waterloo Region and many more are in the planning phase. View local examples of reurbanization. Also, check out A Symphony of Design, a video highlighting some of the region's finest examples of urban design, many of which are reurbanization projects.

ION Attracts...Look at development happening along the ION Corridor

Rapid Transit is already playing a major role in reurbanization in Waterloo Region. Below is a map developed in 2014 of some new and recent development along the ION rapid transit route. Click on the image to see a larger version. (This is a large file. We appreciate your patience as it loads.)


For more information

View a list of staff contacts related to Reurbanization.


Kevin Curtis

Regional Official Plan Contact
Manager, Strategic Policy Development
150 Frederick Street 8/F, Kitchener, ON N2G 4J3

Phone: 519-575-4794
TTY: 519-575-4608

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Email to Manager, Strategic Policy Development Kevin Curtis