Planning Policies

It takes careful planning and long-term vision to achieve and maintain the quality of life for which Waterloo Region is famous.

The Region of Waterloo works in partnership with the Province of Ontario and the seven Area Municipalities to put planning policies in place that guide decisions related to how our community grows and develops. These policies affect all aspects of our life, including our social, economic, heritage and natural environments.

This work is done using key legislation and policy documents such as the Regional Official Plan, theOntario Planning Act, the Provincial Policy Statement, and the Places to Grow Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

The Regional Official Plan (ROP)

On Dec. 22, 2010, the Province of Ontario approved the new Regional Official Plan (ROP) with modifications. The new ROP is the Region's guiding document for directing growth over the next 20 years.vibrant downtown Kitchener

Key elements of the Regional Official Plan are:

  • A fixed border between rural and urban areas;
  • Directing growth to make better use of land and municipal services 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.

All future land-use development, transportation and infrastructure within Waterloo Region, must conform to the policies, goals and objectives of the ROP.

For more information on how the vision and policies contained in the ROP will shape planning decisions, visit the Rural and Urban Land pages.

The Ontario Planning Act

The Planning Act sets out the ground rules for land use planning in Ontario. The Province has designated the Region of Waterloo as its approval authority for official plans, official plan amendments, plans of subdivision, plans of condominiums, and part-lot control by-laws within the City of Cambridge, the City of Waterloo and the Townships of North Dumfries, Wellesley, Wilmot and Woolwich. Responsibility for approval of the above noted development applications in Kitchener has been delegated to the City of Kitchener.

For more information on the Planning Act, please visit the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing website.

The Provincial Policy Statement

The Province of Ontario created the Provincial Policy Statement in 2005. It includes policies on key issues that affect our community, such as: the efficient use and management of land and infrastructure; protection of the environment and resources; and ensuring appropriate opportunities for employment and residential development.

Places to Grow Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe

The Growth Plan was finalized in 2006 and contains growth plans for regions within the Greater Golden Horseshoe that will be used to guide future provincial investments and policies. The purpose of the Growth Plan is to plan for and direct future growth in order to:

  • Revitalize downtowns to become vibrant and convenient centres;
  • Create complete communities that offer more options for living, working, shopping and playing;Cambridge bus 'n' bike
  • Provide greater choice in housing types to meet the needs of people at all stages of life;
  • Curb urban development into rural areas and protect farmland and green spaces; and
  • Reduce the increase in traffic congestion by improving access to a greater range of transportation choices.

The Growth Plan reflects many of the same directions the Region included in its 2010 Regional Official Plan (ROP). To learn more about how the Growth Plan and the ROP are helping to shape growth in Waterloo Region, please refer to the Province's Growth Plan site and the Regional Official Plan site.