Growth Management Strategy

Envision Guelph and Guelph’s Official Plan

The Official Plan incorporates policies that govern residential and commercial development, natural and heritage conservation, and Guelph’s transportation and energy systems, and related policies and studies.

Guelph is growing

How Guelph plans and manages changes over the next 25 years will affect all our lives. In keeping with the City’s Strategic Plan . . . the City that Makes a Difference our growth planning must be completed in a manner that is balanced and sustainable.

What are we doing?

The City is planning for its growth in consideration of the Province’s Places to Grow growth plan that encompasses our area (as well as other municipalities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe in and around Toronto). Our planning has consisted of completing background research, including several significant studies examining environmental, social/cultural and economic parameters of growth. Over the past several years, the City has also completed several public engagement sessions with the Guelph community and on-going discussions with our fellow government partners, the surrounding municipalities around Guelph and the Provincial Government.

What has happened and what is going on now?

The work has now been completed. City Council received the final phase of the strategy, the implications of the growth plan, at their meeting on April 27, 2009.  We are now at the stage where staff are implementing the growth plan through the City’s Official Plan update.

Background information

Growth…it’s happening all around us

The City of Guelph is part of one of the fastest growing regions in Ontario. Within the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area (the Toronto centred economic region covering a large part of south central Ontario) Provincial projections anticipate that an additional 4 million people will be added over the next 30 years. Of this, the Province has targeted population growth to the city and surrounding county area of over 125,000 additional people. The current city population is approximately 115,000 people while that of the surrounding Wellington County is 80,000.

Guelph has experienced considerable growth during the last decade. Major new residential and employment areas have been, and continue to be, developed in all suburban areas of the City. Growth management is necessary to address the long term growth pressures facing the City and Provincial initiatives to direct growth to identified urban areas including Guelph.

What the City has done

In response to the challenges of managing growth, Guelph City Council has authorized the preparation of a Local Growth Management Strategy. This strategy is being devised by focusing on the quality and sustainability of growth and supports a philosophy that seeks to balance economic, social and environmental perspectives.

Growth Management Strategy Terms of Reference

The City’s “SmartGuelph Principles” served as an important framework for the preparation of City Strategic Plans in 2005 and 2007.

What the Province has done

Guelph is a designated settlement area within Places to Grow, the Province of Ontario’s proposed thirty-year Growth Plan. Downtown Guelph has been designated as an “Urban Growth Centre” in the draft Growth Plan. The Growth Plan proposes to strengthen Guelph’s connectivity with the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) by a new inter-regional transportation and transit corridor, as well as a major future new “economic corridor” running north of the city connecting it with Waterloo Region and the northern GTA. The Places to Grow Plan and the related Greenbelt Plan set a significant development framework for the existing City of Guelph. Part of the outcome of the Guelph’s Growth Management Strategy will be Guelph’s response to the new framework as the Growth Plan is further detailed through more detailed studies.

Additional information is available for Places to Grow and the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe on the Provincial website.

Growth Management in Guelph – A Detailed Study of Our Growth Options

Based on the context and changing growth pressures, a decision was made by Guelph City Council to initiate the Growth Management Strategy in Guelph. The Strategy included four Phases each with its own set of targets and timing.

Growth Management Strategy Work Plan

Strategy Process

Phase I – Background

Completed – 2006

During Phase I, public opinion surveys and stakeholder consultations were the primary consultation initiatives. These initiatives were used to introduce the project to the public and explain the process and preliminary background work. Input on how and where the City should grow, along with the form that the growth should take were the key planning-related considerations that the public were consulted on. Phase I also involved the finalization of the overall project consultation and communication strategy.

Results from the surveys and consultations have been analyzed and incorporated into a Context Report which provides an assessment of the expected growth.

Growth Management Strategy Context Report

Phase II – Urban Form Alternatives

Completed 2007

Phase II dealt mainly with public consultation and the creation and evaluation of potential strategies for growth and urban design. This phase was kicked off with a public symposium held in February 2007.

In the spring of 2007 GuelphQuest Public Workshops were held and public input was taken to determine how people would like to see densities and urban forms developed in the future. An open house was held at the end of June to review the results of this process.

GuelphQuest Workshop Results GuelphQuest Open House Minutes

In the fall of 2007, Building Guelph’s Future workshop series was held. This public engagement process comprised several workshops and open houses dealing with different options for residential intensification in the City of Guelph. The form and scale of additional housing in different locations of the City were discussed and assessed by the public.

Building Guelph’s Future Workshops

Phase III – Scenario Requirements

Completed 2007

Phase III examined the environmental, social and economic implications of alternative growth scenarios in the City. The work included a series of background research reports and presentations to Council in the fall of 2007.

Related Documents

Council adoption of Local Growth Strategy Recommendations

Presentation to Council

Additional Documents

Guelph’s response to Places to Grow

Frequently asked questions

What does ‘growth management strategy’ mean?

It is the intention to develop a growth strategy that reflects the values of the city of Guelph, while implementing a Provincial Plan. The growth applies to the increase in people and jobs and the resulting development that is anticipated in the City.

Why does growth matter? Why should the city of Guelph and those who work or live here care about the topic?

Managing growth and change, while making the city a better place to live, is important to all who live and work in Guelph. Just as we plan our lives we must look ahead to understand what we want in our community and how to achieve it.

Why is the City conducting this Strategy — what do you expect to get out of it?

Guelph has a one hundred and eighty year old history of planning. The current Official Plan establishes the vision for the City to the year 2021. Based on the Province’s population and employment projections it is anticipated that Guelph’s growth will be higher than the current City projections to 2021, and the Growth Management Strategy will look ahead to 2031 to understand what options for growth are available, and determine the consequences of these alternatives.

Has the City already decided what kind of growth it wants — is this a hollow exercise to support a pre-determined outcome?

No. The City has not determined what kind or how much growth it wishes to accommodate. How much, what form and where growth might occur will be the subject of the Study. Provincial Growth Plans will affect, and may limit, Guelph’s choices but the Growth Management Strategy is the opportunity to be heard on the issues.

Does Guelph have to grow — what is the starting assumption for the Strategy?

Guelph will continue to grow for a number of reasons. Development approvals have already been given for a significant amount of new development (approximately 7000 units) in new growth areas. The Province has finalized its growth plan – Places to Grow – which allots significantly higher amounts of growth to the city than has been contemplated in current local planning documents. Due to Guelph’s location on the outside edge of the Greenbelt that surrounds the Greater Toronto Area, there is expected significant development pressure on the community, i.e. households want to reduce their direct living costs by moving to more affordable areas just outside of the higher cost GTA area. The Growth Management Strategy is intended to plan for growth in matters dealing with the form, location, type, and amount of development in relation to the contextual framework of the Provincial Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

To what degree can Guelph control its future and manage growth? How much influence does the City have?

Guelph has the ability to control and manage its future growth but will be required to do so in the context of Provincial legislation and the economic market.

How does this Strategy fit into the Province’s Places to Grow initiative — how, if at all, are they connected?

The study will be carried out in co-ordination with the Places to Grow Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. It will be important to monitor implementation of the provincial Growth Plan and develop a response that reflects Guelquestph’s values and heritage.

How is this Strategy different from the SmartGuelph initiative of 2002?

The SmartGuelph initiative established a set of well-defined and articulated principles for growth and development in the city. The results and subject matter of this Strategy will be more specific and geographically grounded as the meaning and implications of the principles are explored.

What are the key components of the Strategy and when/how can the public be involved?

There are four key components or phases to the Strategy. The initial stage (Phase I) will involve background research and consultation to assess the context for growth and frame the issues. The second stage (Phase II) will provide for the development of alternative options for growth management and will involve discussion and input into the alternatives. The third stage (Phase III) will provide for an analysis and assessment of the alternatives, an understanding of what the requirements will be (infrastructure, finance) for each option, and the selection by City Council of a preferred development option. The final stage (Phase IV) will involve the development of an implementation strategy for the preferred growth option, involving matters such as phasing of development, infrastructure, planning document amendments, and funding mechanisms. For more information on the process click here. For more details on you can get involved click here.

How will the City/project team use the input received from the public and other stakeholders?

The public will be informed of and involved in all phases of the project through a variety of consultative means including surveys, meetings, workshops and interviews. All information received from the public and stakeholders will form part of the documentation for the project and will be used to formulate options and decisions throughout the study process.

Why is the Strategy going to take three years to complete?

The Strategy will involve four phases and extensive public consultation and review. In order to ensure the consultation reaches all parts of the community and the options and issues are adequately addressed, the Strategy timeline has been extended over a three-year period (2006-2008).

Growth has an impact in a lot of areas — what is the City doing to ensure a coordinated and collaborative approach to growth planning?

The Strategy will involve working with all stakeholders throughout the process. It is intended to build on past initiatives and move forward within the current context for managing growth both at the City and Provincial level. The consultative process has been designed to ensure all parties have balanced access to information and opportunities for input.

Who pays for growth?

The costs of growth are as varied as the factors which affect growth. There are capital costs associated with new growth, on-going maintenance costs associated with growth, costs for hard and soft services, and the costs to replace existing and planned infrastructure. While much of the cost for local growth is paid for by the local municipal tax base, there is also a responsibility to ensure that the costs of growth are sustainable and based on reasonable, manageable amounts of growth. There is also a need for the Province and the Federal government to support growth through their share of revenue and funding for growth related projects and initiatives which promote sustainable growth.

What is GuelphQuest Online and how does it fit into the Strategy process?

GuelphQuest Online is a software program that was used to facilitate discussions on growth options for the community. It is a visualization tool developed by Envision Sustainability Inc. which enables its viewers to see connections between choices and consequences of alternative actions relating to growth and development. The software, a licensed product developed at the University of British Columbia, is currently being customized to Guelph’s context. It consists of a high level overview of future development options for periods up to 2041. It is being used used to facilitate discussion forums to illustrate the complexity of planning, to examine the long timelines required to enact change from existing states, and to illustrate trade offs between differing priorities of economic, social and environmental factors of growth.

What is Building Guelph’s Future?

Building Guelph’s Future was a series of workshops following GuelphQuest where Guelph residents completed hands-on exercises dealing with intensification and future population growth in the City.