Waterloo Region’s Growth Management Strategy, as laid out in the Regional Official Plan, is an ambitious attempt to protect our farms and natural areas while also channelling growth to improve our neighbourhoods and communities. The Official Plan governs where new growth can take place and what form it will take across the entire Region. It’s important to check periodically that plans of this magnitude continue to have public support and understanding.
Fortunately, the Region now has fresh assurances that it’s approach to protecting countryside and building up urban areas are widely supported. As part of its strategic planning, the Region commissioned a representative survey to gauge resident’s priorities and levels of satisfaction with Regional policies and services. Questions were asked on topics which included economic development, the environment, healthy and inclusive communities, transportation, and responsive government services.
Here are a few things they discovered about how people feel about the Region’s smart growth approach:
- 68% like living in a growing community, while only 10% don’t
- 55% agree the Region has a good balance of land use, 13% disagree
- 51% agree the Region does a good job managing urban growth, 13% disagree
- 42% agree the Region does a good job managing rural growth, 15% disagree
- 61% agree the Region does a good job protecting the environment, 8% disagree
Looking ahead at priorities,
- 54% listed overall environmental stewardship as a top priority, second only to economic development
- 67% said protecting rural areas is a top priority, 27% said it is a secondary priority
- 60% said creating walkable communities is a top priority, 35% said it is a secondary priority
- 59% said encouraging well-designed buildings and communities is a top priority, 34% said it is a secondary priority
- 48% said increased development in existing urban areas is a top priority, 43% said it is a secondary priority
The OMB will be reviewing, and hopefully approving, the settlement Waterloo Region has reached with developers who challenged its Official Plan. Soon councillors and staff will be able to move forward with implementation of its smart growth policies, knowing that the residents of our community stand behind them.