Guelph’s Growth Management Strategy

On August 28, 2020 the Province updated the Growth Plan targets for municipalities located in the Greater Golden Horseshoe requiring them to plan for growth to 2051, instead of 2041. Guelph must now plan to accommodate a population of 203,000 and 116,000 jobs by 2051, the forecasted growth to 2041 is unchanged. The Council-endorsed and community-supported draft vision and principles for growth remain our basis for considering how and where we grow as we move forward. We continue to need your help to ensure that we develop a Guelph-made approach to accommodate these growth targets.

Community engagement opportunities

On September 17, 2020, a virtual town hall was held providing Guelphites with the opportunity to learn about the Shaping Guelph project and ask questions about residential intensification in the built-up area. Below is a recording of the virtual town hall.

Shaping Guelph’s Future

Guelph is among the top 20 fastest growing cities in Ontario. The Province of Ontario recently updated its plan for managing growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (the Growth Plan). It’s now time for Guelph to update our strategy for future growth and our Official Plan to comply with Provincial requirements.

Guelph needs to plan to meet provincial growth forecasts of a population of 203,000 and 116,000 jobs by 2051. How we meet those forecasts is up to us. Growth doesn’t mean putting high-rise apartment buildings in every neighbourhood; thoughtful planning will identify the right growth for all areas of the city so that Guelph can attract new residents, businesses and services that add to our community. Planning how and where we grow helps us create a people-oriented city full of essential amenities, walkable neighbourhoods, thriving community hubs and an interconnected transportation network. We need your help to ensure that we develop a Guelph-made approach to accommodate this growth.



Early 2020

  • Review vision and principles for growth

Mid 2020

  • Residential intensification analysis

Late 2020

  • Employment lands strategy

Late 2020

  • Housing analysis and strategy

Early 2021

  • Growth scenario planning and infrastructure needs, including cost analysis

Mid 2021

  • Final growth management strategy

This timeline is subject to change.


The City updates its Official Plan every 5 years to meet the requirements of Ontario’s A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe 2019.

The first step in updating the City’s Official Plan is to do a municipal comprehensive review. This work will include preparing background studies and options to help Guelph comply with the provincial Growth Plan:

  • Vision and principles for growth – we will revisit our current Official Plan section related to growth to decide if we need to update the existing vision and principles.
  • Residential intensification analysis – we will determine our ability to accommodate additional housing in the City’s developed urban area. We will assess appropriate locations for additional housing and the types and forms of housing, including building heights and densities.
  • Housing analysis and strategy – we will examine options and recommendations for new Official Plan policies, including residential housing densities, building heights and land use changes.
  • Employment lands strategy – we will examine our existing employment lands to see if they can accommodate job growth to 2051. This assessment will determine how much land is needed for future job growth, recommend density targets for employment areas, and provide direction to promote intensification of existing employment lands. The assessment will also determine if any existing employment lands are no longer needed and can change to other uses – known as employment land conversions.
  • Land needs assessment – we will determine the amount of land needed to meet Guelph’s projected 2051 population and employment targets. The Province’s target for Guelph is to reach a population of 203,000 people and an employment base of 116,000 jobs by 2051.
  • Growth scenario planning and infrastructure needs – we will develop different options for growth based on the results of the residential intensification analysis, land needs assessment and employment lands strategy, and guided by the provincial Growth Plan. The scenarios will determine whether we have enough, too much or not enough land to accommodate our 2051 population and employment forecasts. We’ll also analyze our infrastructure master plans and transportation master plan to determine infrastructure needs and costs to service each growth option. We will then select a preferred option for where Guelph should grow, known as the urban structure for Guelph’s Official Plan.

The project will also consider recommendations from several infrastructure and land use studies, including the Clair-Maltby Secondary Plan.

The above will all feed into a final Growth Management Strategy that will include directions to the Official Plan Update.

The Growth Management Strategy will not include:

  • Official Plan matters not related to growth, such as policies and directions on the natural heritage system, parks, sustainable transportation, and affordable housing (these will be covered as part of the Official Plan Update);
  • Matters that are dealt with through the zoning bylaw, such as land use permissions for specific properties, detailed parking rates, or building setbacks;
  • Requests to change land use on specific properties that are dealt with through private development applications;
  • Exploring alternative population and employment forecasts; and
  • The economic impact of varying growth rates.


Council and Committee reports

Project initiation – October 7, 2019Vision and Principles for Growth – June 15, 2020

Official Plan and related amendments

City of Guelph Official Plan (March 2018 Consolidation)

Growth Management Monitoring Reports (Growth Plan 2006)

Guelph Growth Management and Affordable Housing Monitoring Report 2019

Vision and Principles for Growth Community Engagement

Community engagement took place in February and March 2020 to update a vision and principles for growth to 2041. Two online surveys were available through Have Your Say  and a speaker event was held on February 27, 2020.

Shaping Guelph February 27, 2020 Speaker Event – Full Length Video Shaping Guelph February 27, 2020 Speaker Event – Display BoardsVision and principles for growth community engagement summary

For more information

Natalie Goss, Senior Policy Planner
Planning and Building Services
519-822-1260 extension 3548
[email protected]
Jason Downham, Planner II, Policy and Analytics
Planning and Building Services
519-822-1260 extension 2262
[email protected]