Category Archives: Front Page

Poll shows widespread support for Region’s growth management

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: Continue reading

Submission to the Land Use Planning Review

The first phase of consultations for the provincial government’s Co-ordinated Land Use Planning Review has concluded. Like people from communities across Ontario, we’re eager to see what changes the Province will propose before the second, more specific round of consultations is launched.

In the mean time, some of you may be interested in Smart Growth Waterloo Region’s short submission to the first phase of the review.

We’ll keep you posted on the review. Given the huge interest expressed in our community during the first consultation round, we know you’ll want to be in the loop.

Major news: Negotiated settlement on the OMB case

This morning, the Region of Waterloo announced that it has reached a settlement with the greenfield developers who appealed the Region’s new Official Plan to the Ontario Municipal Board.

A map released by the Region, showing changes based on the settlement agreement.

The agreement, which still must be approved by the OMB, would open up 255 hectares of new land to settle the original dispute, with an additional 198 hectares in the coming years to accommodate new higher population growth projections. Developers had asked for 1053 hectares of new land for urban development to 2031.

While this is a compromise, it’s a good compromise that will allow us to move forward with smart growth approaches in our community. It will help protect our farmland and environmentally sensitive areas, while allowing us to encourage more people and jobs in built-up areas to create more liveable urban areas.

As many of you know, in January of 2013 the OMB ruled against crucial smart growth provisions of the Region’s Official Plan, and threatened key provisions of the province’s Places to Grow Growth Plan covering much of Ontario. The Region has been fighting this dangerous decision in provincial court, with the support of the provincial government, as well as pursuing a negotiated settlement. (Read more about the OMB decision.)

This deal means we won’t have to rely on the unpredictable court system to fix the mess left by the OMB, and can move forward sooner with a locally-designed solution.

You can see the Region’s press release on the deal here, and their full report here.

You can also check out our press release.

Congratulations to all those at the Region of Waterloo who have been working so hard on this deal, and to all of you for your ongoing support of our community’s smart growth vision. Our community’s dedication has been a crucial part of this success.

Deadline: Submit your comments on the review!

You’ve got until Thursday to submit your comments on the Province of Ontario’s Coordinated Land Use Planning Review.

The review is covering the Places to Grow Growth Plan and the Greenbelt. Given how important intensification and protecting our urban and rural spaces is in Waterloo Region, and how much local leadership we’ve seen on these issues, we want voices from our area to be well represented in the comments.

We were lucky to have a wonderful turnout at the local consultation back in March at Bingeman’s. If you were there, please still take a few moments to submit some of your comments in writing by Thursday. If you missed it, you can catch up on some of the tweets here.

Please take a few moments to look through the province’s consultation document, and submit your comments online by Thursday May 28th. We’re told that comments at this stage will be considered as the province drafts proposed changes, which will be brought back for public consultation later in the year.

If you’re wondering about what some of the local municipalities are submitting to the Province’s review, links to some of the submissions are below:

Region of Waterloo

Cambridge (see page 131)

Kitchener

Waterloo (see page 66)

Mark your calendars! Coordinated Land Use Planning Review

The Province of Ontario recently announced its Coordinated Land Use Planning Review. Taking a big-picture view, the Province has decided to include several related policies in the same review, and is including:

The Province has released a discussion document for this stage of the consultations, which can be viewed here.

Most exciting for us, Waterloo Region has been selected as the site of the first regional town hall meeting. The meeting will take place on Wednesday March 25th at Bingeman’s Conference Centre in Kitchener. The open house will start at 6:00 pm, and the meeting will start at 7:00 pm.

If you’re able, please join us at Bingeman’s on the 25th. With Waterloo Region leading the way on smart growth, environmental and farmland protection, and more liveable communities, we need to make sure that local voices are heard in this review. The results of this review will have a huge impact here at home and across the province.

We’ve set up a Facebook page for the event, so let us know you’ll be joining in! We’ll also be tweeting at #LandUseON, so join in the conversation online, too.

And if you can’t make it, you can submit your comments online until May 27th, 2015.

One more note: the Province of Ontario is also holding consultations about its strategy for addressing climate change. A consultation will take place at the Kitchener Public Library on March 19th, and full details are available here.

Update on negotiations from The Record

Today, the Waterloo Region Record ran a new story about the ongoing negotiations between the Region of Waterloo and a handful of developers, whose appeal of the Regional Official Plan resulted in a 2013 Ontario Municipal Board ruling against the Region’s efforts to rein in urban sprawl. While it’s been public knowledge that such negotiations have been ongoing since early 2013, it is noteworthy that both Regional Chair Ken Seiling and a planner for some of those developers sound hopeful that a negotiated settlement is still possible.

Fortunately, our regional government is doing what it can, and isn’t simply relying on the outcome of negotiations to protect our future. The article reports that the Region is still pursuing a judicial review of that fateful OMB decision, and if a satisfactory settlement isn’t reached, court dates for the appeal are set for January of 2016.

You can read the full article on the Record’s website here.