Guelph uses “environment-first” approach to city planning

Updated Official Plan to direct growth over 20 years

City Council has approved the third and final phase of Guelph’s Official Plan update. Official Plan Amendment 48 (OPA 48) includes several policies to enhance Guelph’s social, economic, cultural and natural environment.

Guelph’s Official Plan – Envision Guelph – will direct growth and development over the next 20 years. Updates to the policies included in the plan will encourage well-designed, walkable, transit-friendly neighbourhoods; promote economic vitality and innovation; support social well-being; and incorporate goals of Guelph’s Community Energy Initiative.

Specifically, OPA 48 includes new and updated policies to address growth to the year 2031 including:

  • watershed planning and water resources
  • climate change and the City’s Community Energy Initiative
  • greater focus on transit, walking and cycling
  • parks and trails
  • cultural heritage resources
  • municipal services and infrastructure
  • mineral aggregate resources
  • affordable housing
  • urban design and implementation tools (e.g. height and density bonusing)
  • land use designations

“The plan has been updated in three phases over the past five years,” said Todd Salter, General Manager of Planning Services. “City Council has already approved the first two phases which brought Guelph’s plan into conformity with the Provincial Growth Plan, and articulated specific policies to protect, preserve and enhance Guelph’s River systems and natural spaces that make up our Natural Heritage System.”

Guelph values its rivers and green spaces, and the City’s Official Plan continues to put the environment first – protecting, preserving and enhancing the city’s natural assets and ecological systems as the city continues to grow.

Updating Guelph’s Official Plan

Since 2007 the City has been conducting a five-year Official Plan update.

Phase 1 (OPA 39) established a growth management framework and brought the Official Plan into conformity with the Provincial Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. OPA 39 was adopted by Council in 2009 and is in full force and effect.

Phase 2 (OPA 42) was the remainder of the Official Plan update and was driven by the 2005 Provincial Policy Statement, the Planning Act, the Ontario Heritage Act and the Clean Water Act, as well as the City’s Urban Design Action Plan, Community Energy Plan, Trails Master Plan, Recreation, Parks and Culture Strategic Plan, Employment Lands Strategy and other infrastructure studies and master plans.

The first draft of OPA 42 was released in early 2010 and the City conducted extensive community and stakeholder consultation. In May 2010, in response to community input and recognizing the importance of proceeding with the natural heritage policies while allowing time for public consultation on the update, Council directed staff to proceed with finalizing the Natural Heritage System policies.

OPA 42 was split into two parts; the Natural Heritage System policies were carried forward as OPA 42 and adopted by Council in July 2010 while the remaining policies became Phase 3 – eventually numbered OPA 48.

Phase 3 (OPA 48) began in late 2010 as the City analysed all public and stakeholder feedback on the first draft of OPA 42 and focused on policy matters that remained part of OPA 48. The City met with stakeholders and individuals to discuss their comments and explore solutions to their concerns. The proposed policies were revised based on these discussions, and were included in a second draft that excluded natural heritage policies addressed and approved in Phase 2 (OPA 42).

OPA 48 was released for further public review on January 30, 2012. The City promoted and hosted two formal open houses and a public meeting seeking community input. OPA 48 was approved by City Council on June 5, 2012.

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Todd Salter, General Manager
Planning Services
519-822-1260 x 2395  

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