About the Regional Official Plan

Here you can find out more information about the Regional Official Plan (ROP), such as the role of the ROP, preparing the ROP, plan and organization of the document, what's in the new ROP, and Regional and Provincial timelines.

The Role of the ROP

The ROP is a Provincially mandated legal document that contains goals, objectives and policies to manage and direct physical (land use) change and its effects on the cultural, social, economic and natural environment of a municipality. Regional and Area Municipal public works and land use related by-laws must conform to the ROP. The Plan incorporates the broad policy and regulatory framework established by the Province of Ontario (e.g. the Provincial Policy Statement and the Growth Plan) with Regional and community interests.

Preparing the ROP

The original Regional Official Policies Plan was approved in 1976 and underwent a comprehensive review in the early nineties. This review resulted in a new Regional Official Policies Plan in 1995 and reflected changes in public values, better integrated land, infrastructure, environmental and social policies, and established a mechanism to monitor the success of key policies. The introduction of the Regional Growth Management Strategy and expected changes to provincial planning legislation prompted another comprehensive review by Regional Council of the Regional Official Policies Plan. The new Provincial Policy Statement (2005) and changes to the Planning Act (Bill 51, 2006) provide greater opportunity for the ROP to plan for sustainability and liveability, especially in areas of transportation choice (transit, walking and cycling), air quality, and alternative energy. The Places to Grow Act and corresponding Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe established population and employment forecasts and specific density targets that help provide a basis on which to plan.

Since the fall of 2004, Regional staff have been collaborating with community groups, area municipalities, other agencies, and the general public to gain input on the development of the new ROP. A Municipal Working Group was established to provide an opportunity for collaboration amongst Area Municipalities, the Grand River Conservation Authority and Regional staff in the development of the first draft of the ROP. The outcome of this process fed into the policies that make up the ROP as adopted by Regional Council. For more information on what's been happening and what's next, see the Timeline section of this website.

Organization and Structure

The ROP is a high-level policy document that contains goals, objectives and policies designed to move the Region of Waterloo towards achieving the ROP's vision for a sustainable and liveable region. This sustainable and liveable regional community is defined by a thriving, culturally diverse population, a healthy environment, prosperous economy and outstanding quality of life for all regional residents. Read the full ROP document online. To view the ROP in map form, please visit the interactive mapping tool.

The structure of the new ROP is as follows:

Chapter One introduces the main purpose of this Plan as well as providing the context related to complementary documents, such as the Regional Growth Management Strategy and the Growth Plan. This Chapter also provides a brief overview of the Vision of this Plan and explains the concepts of sustainability and liveability in the context of decision-making in Waterloo Region.

Chapter Two provides the policy framework for Shaping Waterloo Region's Urban Communities in both the cities and the townships, and outlines the policies that direct a greater share of new urban development towards existing communities.

Chapter Three focuses on Liveability in Waterloo Region and introduces policies related to creating vibrant urban and rural places.

Chapter Four outlines the Region's policies for Supporting the Business Community. The policy-related goal is to collaborate with Area Municipalities, Canada's Technology Triangle Inc., and other stakeholders to foster a diverse, innovative and globally competitive regional economy.

Chapter Five focuses on Addressing Waterloo Region's Infrastructure Needs with policies providing forensuring the planning and development of cost effective and timely infrastructure planning, development and asset management to support growth in a compact and efficient form.

Chapter Six focuses on Supporting the Countryside and the policies that will protect the rural character of the countryside while supporting the development of strong and prosperous rural communities.

Chapter Seven outlines the policy framework for the Greenlands Network that protects environmental features and ecological functions from adverse environmental impacts. The Chapter provides policies related to the natural environment through the conservation and enhancement of the region's sensitive natural areas and native biodiversity, and the promotion of informed stewardship.

Chapter Eight establishes a Source Water Protection policy framework to govern land uses that have the potential to impact surface and groundwater resources that contribute to the municipal drinking-water supply system.

Chapter Nine outlines the policies for Managing Aggregate Resources that balance the Provincial interest of permitting the extraction of mineral aggregates with other planning objectives.

Chapter Ten is the final Chapter of the Plan. This Chapter supports the implementation of the preceding policies and focuses on Fulfilling Consultation and Implementation Roles.

What's in the New ROP?

Based on the public input we've received, a continued commitment to sustainable growth management is pursued in the new ROP. The ROP will give legal weight to many of the objectives and tools developed through the Regional Growth Management Strategy while conforming to recent policy changes at the Provincial level.

Some of the most notable improvements in the new ROP include:

  • a stronger, more widespread focus on striving for sustainability and complementing this with a commitment to liveability through the creation of compact, mixed-use, complete communities that meet people's needs for daily living throughout their entire lifetime;

  • a long-term boundary (Countryside Line) between the existing and future Urban Areas/ Township Urban Areas and the countryside and a new Protected Countryside designation;

  • focusing development in existing urban areas (reurbanization) with emphasis on existing centres and frequently-used transit corridors;

  • new retail, commercial, and employment-related policies designed to maintain and enhance the region's economic strength and attract investment;

  • a focus on providing a variety of transportation choices, including walking, cycling, and the introduction of a rapid transit system linking the Cities of Kitchener and Waterloo;

  • strengthened source water protection policies, including a new Regional Recharge Area designation, to protect surface water and groundwater resources;

  • a commitment to collaboration through innovative communication strategies with community stakeholders, including Area Municipalities and other agencies;

  • the establishment of an expanded Greenlands Network protecting more environmental features; and

  • a strengthened commitment to environmental stewardship, improving air quality and encouraging use of alternative and renewable energy.


The following is a chronological list of the major events and milestones that have fed into the development of the new ROP.