Parkland Dedication Bylaw review

We’re updating our Parkland Dedication Bylaw.

Parkland dedication ensures that, as Guelph grows, our parks and open spaces grow too. The bylaw requires builders to either transfer land for park or other public recreation purpose or provide payment in lieu of parkland, according to section 42 of the Planning Act.

Following engagement, staff updated the proposed bylaw. The changes include:

  • The date the Parkland Dedication Bylaw will become effective has moved from January 1, 2019 to January 31, 2019
  • The proposed bylaw no longer includes standard land values for industrial and commercial purposes
  • Areas of lands that are required to accommodate stormwater management facilities will not be accepted as parkland
  • A new clause ‘no building without payment’ has been added

Proposed bylawParkland Dedication Bylaw report Summary of the proposed Parkland Dedication Bylaw Consultant recommendations


Resources from Committee of the Whole


Background information


Research (spring 2017)

City conducted background research, reviewed and analyzed the existing parkland dedication bylaw as well as best practices from around Ontario.

Feedback from internal stakeholders (spring 2017)

Internal stakeholders within the City of Guelph and key external stakeholders were consulted to determine the interests, concerns and options for parkland dedication policies moving forward.

Feedback from stakeholders (summer and fall 2017)

Consulting with key stakeholders took place on June 29, 2017 and again on October 5, 2017 through focus groups. The general public was informed and engaged through an open house on October 5, 2017. A paper and online survey was conducted to gain feedback.

The City began to draft guidelines and framework for an updated bylaw based on stakeholder feedback.

Draft Parkland Dedication Bylaw ready for review (April 2018)

The draft Parkland Dedication Bylaw was presented to the public for review in April 2018.

Review of community feedback and bylaw updates (summer-fall 2018)

Staff took time to review and revise the draft bylaw based on community and stakeholder feedback. The proposed bylaw was developed and posted to the website on November 30, 2018.

Report to Council (January 14, 2019)

A staff report with the proposed bylaw will be presented to the Committee of the Whole for a decision on January 14, 2019.

For more information

Luke Jefferson, Manager
Open Space Planning, Parks and Recreation
519-822-1260 extension 2527
[email protected]

The Planning Act allows municipalities to require that land for park or other public recreational purpose be given to the City as part of the approval of a development application. The contribution can come in the form of land for a future park or payment in lieu of land.

Sections 51.1, 42 and 53(13) of the Planning Act provide the full definition.

Section 42 of the Planning Act requires the City to have a bylaw in order to require parkland dedication as a condition of some types of development or redevelopment in our community.

The bylaw has not been fully reviewed and updated since 1989. The bylaw is being updated to ensure that it is consistent with the Planning Act and the City’s Official Plan. The Parkland Dedication Bylaw ensures that as the city grows, our parks and opens spaces grow with it.

Updating the bylaw also increases certainty, predictability and transparency in the parkland dedication process for all stakeholders.

The Official Plan, required by the Planning Act, describes what the City’s Open Space System is and provides guidance on parkland targets for the entire city based on the population of Guelph.

The following parkland targets were incorporated into the City’s Official Plan:

  • Neighbourhood Parks – 0.7 hectares per thousand people
  • Community Parks – 1.3 hectares per thousand people
  • Regional Parks – 1.3 hectares per thousand people (encouraged rather than required)

Section 7.3.5 of the Official Plan sets out the Parkland Dedication policies for the City.

Parkland Dedication is just one method the City uses to get new parkland. Relying only on parkland dedication through the approval of development applications is not enough to achieve the parkland targets outlined in the City’s Official Plan because of the maximum limit for dedication set by the Planning Act.

No, there is not a City-wide shortfall in parkland. Our overall target of 3.3 hectares of total parkland per 1,000 residents is being met. However, we are slightly shy on our targets for neighbourhood and community level parks, and so this will be a focus for Parks Planning staff as we bring future neighbourhoods and parks online.

The City has approximately 442.36 hectares of parkland which consists of neighbourhood, community and regional parkland. The population of the City of Guelph is 135,000, as per the 2017 Growth Monitoring Report. This represents approximately 3.33 hectares of total parkland per 1,000 residents which meets the Official Plan’s parkland targets.

With the current provision of 3.33 hectares of parkland per thousand people, the City is meeting parkland targets. However, if the City uses parkland dedication as the sole method to get new parkland, it is possible that the service level will decline over time.

In the Official Plan, there are three sections that outline other ways of acquiring parkland:

  • Section 7.3.4 Parkland Deficiencies
  • Section 7.3.5 Parkland Dedication
  • Section 7.3.6 Other Agencies

The Parkland Dedication bylaw is only one method of acquiring parkland.  Parkland dedication establishes criteria and rates for parkland dedication that will determine how much parkland or cash in lieu of parkland should be given to the City for any specific development.

The Planning Act outlines the maximum rate allowed for parkland dedication. The City, through its bylaw and as part of staff review of development applications, determines the rate of cash in lieu for parkland depending on the type and size of development.

Some are based on an appraisal of the development at current market value where others have a set fee based on the application type and the proposed density of the project.  Most fee calculations are based on a percentage of the total value of the developable land, which means that the larger or more valuable the proposed development, the larger the parkland dedication requirement would be.

You can view the current parkland dedication bylaw online. You can also read the draft Parkland Dedication Bylaw that’s still in progress to see the proposed, updated rates.

The Parks and Recreation Master Plan, which is being started in 2018, will review current parkland supply levels, assess the City’s active recreational needs and review the current parkland provision targets. Until then, it is too early to determine to how targets will be adjusted and the parkland funding strategies that will be investigated and recommended.

While the 2012 Official Plan has lower targets, they are now specific to parkland only and exclude natural heritage features or areas. This allows the City to separately focus on identifying and protecting areas recognized as natural heritage features or areas.

When the Official Plan was updated, the City’s Open Space System was defined more clearly to include parks and trails. Environmentally sensitive lands which meet the criteria to be considered Natural Areas or Significant Natural Areas are not included in the Open Space System; they are now a part of the Natural Heritage System.

The City’s open space system accommodates recreation and compliments the City’s natural areas. The open space system consists of parks, trails and open spaces that are separate, interconnected or supportive of the Natural Heritage System.

The City’s Natural Heritage System (NHS) is comprised of a combination of natural heritage features including natural areas, ecological linkages, restoration areas and wildlife crossings. Together these elements maintain local biological, hydrological and geological diversity, ecological functions, connectivity support viable populations of indigenous species and sustain local biodiversity.

No, they could not. As a part of the Official Plan, developers were always required to dedicate land that would be suitable for parkland. The Official Plan has a list of criteria for what the City considers to be suitable parkland on page 158.

During the engagement process, stakeholders requested more time to review the bylaw and we agreed. The new parkland dedication bylaw will be presented to Council in early 2019.

We want this bylaw updated just as much as our community, so it’s important that we take the time to get it right.

Yes, $500,000 in funds from the Parkland Dedication Reserve provided additional funding for the Victoria Road Recreation Centre.

The Planning Act allows these funds to be used to buy parkland or for recreational purposes, including building, improving or repairing existing infrastructure that supports recreation.

The parkland that the Clair-Maltby Secondary Plan is hoping to achieve has not been specifically defined at this time. The parkland provision criteria of the Official Plan have been followed regarding the layout and location of proposed parks. Specifically:

  • Neighbourhood parks that are walkable and a minimum of one hectare in size
  • Community parks that are 10 hectares minimum in size

This results in approximately 18 hectares of parkland. However, through future development applications, parkland will be acquired in accordance with the Planning Act (through a draft plan of subdivision or in accordance with the City’s Parkland Dedication Bylaw) and may include additional neighbourhood parks or urban squares.