OPA 48: Official Plan Update

About the update

The City’s Official Plan needs to be updated to meet legislative requirements under the Planning Act. The Planning Act requires that the Plan be revised every five years to ensure that the Plan is in conformity with provincial plans and is consistent with provincial policy.

Official Plan Amendment No. 48 is the final phase of the Official Plan Update. This phase ensures that the remaining sections of the Official Plan are in conformity with provincial legislation and plans and is consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement. OPA 48 (Phase 3 of the Official Plan update) was approved with modifications by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing on December 11, 2013.

OPA 48 was approved with modifications by the Ontario Municipal Board on October 5, 2017 with the exception of one site specific land use appeal, one policy appeal and several policies remain under appeal on a site specific basis. The OMB approved OPA 48 is posted below and should be read in conjunction with the 2014 Office Consolidation of the Official Plan.

For more information

Planning Services
[email protected]

Envision Guelph

Public meeting

City Council held a Public Meeting in accordance with the Planning Act for Phase 3 of the Official Plan Update (OPA 48) on April 2, 2012.

Open houses

Open houses were held on February 29 and March 6, 2012 for Phase 3 of the Official Plan Update (OPA 48) in accordance with the Planning Act. The following information was available for review at the open houses:

Decision meeting, June 5, 2012

Decision Meeting Report – 12-59 – Official Plan Amendment No. 48 – Phase 3 of the Official Plan Update.

Documents for Phase 3 (OPA 48)

January 30, 2012

Background information

The City’s current Official Plan was adopted in 1994 and approved by the Province in 1995. In 2001, a comprehensive amendment to the Plan known as the “Five Year Public Review Amendment” was approved by the City.

Since Guelph’s last Official Plan update, the Province has issued a new Provincial Policy Statement, which includes new policy direction around employment lands, intensification, brownfields, air quality, and alternative and renewable energy. The City is required to ensure that the Official Plan is consistent with the new Provincial Policy Statement and conforms to the recently released Provincial “Places to Grow” Growth Plan.

Apart from the above legislative requirements, a number of long range planning studies have been completed by the City over the last five years that need to be incorporated into the Official Plan. This includes the Transportation Strategy Update (2001), Guelph-Wellington Transportation Study (2005), City-wide Trail Master Plan (2005), Strategic Plan (2007), Community Energy Initiative (2007), Local Growth Management Strategy (2008), Urban Design Action Plan (2009), and the Natural Heritage Strategy (2009).

Opportunities to enhance the style and format of the Official Plan will also be explored.

Policy inputs, related documents, and helpful links



Frequently asked questions

What is the Official Plan Update?

Guelph’s Official Plan Update – Envision Guelph provides direction for the city’s growth and development over the next 20 years. Envision Guelph focuses on sustainability and sets out policies designed to have a positive effect on Guelph’s social, economic, cultural and natural environment.

Why is it being updated?

The City updates its Official Plan every five years to comply with Provincial legislation and plans, and implement new municipal policies, plans and strategies.

What’s the status of each phase of the Official Plan update?

Phase 1 – Official Plan Amendment 39 (OPA 39) brought the City’s Official Plan into conformity with the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. OPA 39 was adopted by City Council in June 2009 and is in full force and effect.

Phase 2 – Official Plan Amendment 42 (OPA 42) introduced policies for Guelph’s Natural Heritage System (NHS) and establishes a sustainable greenspace network throughout the city. OPA 42 was adopted by Council in July 2010, and was approved by the Ontario Municipal Board on June 4, 2014. The NHS policies are now in effect.

Phase 3 – Official Plan Amendment 48 (OPA 48) was adopted by City Council on June 5, 2012, and approved with modifications by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing on December 11, 2013.

OPA 48 is currently under appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board.

What kinds of policies are proposed under OPA 48?

OPA 48 includes new and updated policies addressing the following areas:

  • strategic directions and vision to guide growth to the year 2031
  • detailed policies to achieve of the city’s growth management framework
  • watershed planning and water resources
  • public health and safety including natural and human-made hazards
  • mineral aggregate resources
  • climate change and the City’s Community Energy Initiative
  • cultural heritage resources
  • transportation providing greater focus on transit, walking and cycling
  • municipal services and infrastructure
  • affordable housing
  • parks and trails
  • urban design consistent with the Urban Design Action Plan
  • land use designations
  • new implementation tools such as height and density bonusing

What are some of the biggest policy changes included in OPA 48?

OPA 48 includes substantial policy changes which:

  • ensure high quality urban design and place-making
  • create new neighbourhoods that contain a mix of uses and are walkable and transit supportive
  • promote economic vitality and innovation
  • support social well-being, including planning for a diversity of housing types, affordability and tenure
  • protect what valuable and manage change to ensure compatibility
  • incorporate the Community Energy Initiative aspirations, targets and strategies

Why were policies included in OPA 48 updated from the versions presented to the community in 2010?

After City Council approved OPA 42 in July 2010, the City reviewed and analyzed all public and stakeholder feedback to focus on policies that would be included in OPA 48.

The City met with stakeholders and individuals to discuss their comments and concerns regarding the 2010 draft policies, and refined the proposed policies before presenting them to the community for review in January 2012.

OPA 48 includes updated proposed policies for all planning matters except those Natural Heritage System policies already approved by City Council in OPA 42.

Did the City explain the differences between the draft OP Update policies released in 2010 and the revised OP Update policies released in January 2012?

Yes. The staff report and related material that accompanied the release of the revised draft OP Update in January 2012 comprehensively summarized and analyzed all comments received and identified specific revisions that were incorporated into the revised draft to respond to the submissions.

Does OPA 48 maintain the vision of the city’s 1993 River Systems Management Plan?

Yes. The policies of OPA 48, working in conjunction with the policies of OPA 42, carry forward the elements of the River Systems Management Plan, while reflecting the evolution in approaches to natural heritage systems planning since the mid-1990’s. Land uses abutting the Natural Heritage System (including the river systems) are planned to support and complement the NHS and must be planned to ensure the NHS is protected, maintained and, as feasible, enhanced and restored.

Does OPA 48 provide explicit policies for the “protection, maintenance, and, where possible, rehabilitation of all rivers, streams and creeks as environmental corridors”?

Those explicit policies were already approved by Council in July 2010 as part of OPA 42 and, as such, are not appropriate to include in OPA 48.

What is the status of OPA 42?

OPA 42, also known as the Natural Heritage System, was adopted by Council in July 2010, and was approved by the Ontario Municipal Board on June 4, 2014. OPA 42 is now in effect.

Does OPA 48 maintain a mandatory 30 metre development setback from the river’s edge and the use of the setback as a vegetated corridor?

No, because minimum setbacks and buffers for components of the Natural Heritage System (NHS), including river systems, were established through OPA 42.

Does OPA 48 maintain the City’s plans for linked open spaces?

Yes. Open Space, Trails and Parks policies contained in OPA 48 maintain the principles of Guelph’s 2006 Official Plan with respect to the “Linked Open Space Concept” as it pertains to parklands and trails (i.e. non-NHS lands), and are consistent with the 2009 Recreation, Parks and Culture Strategic Master Plan and its vision for a greenways system.

How did the City gather feedback from the community when updating the Official Plan?

In each phase of its Official Plan update, the City invited and responded to written submissions, promoted and hosted open houses and meetings, and considered all comments and feedback from the community.

Specifically for OPA 48 the City used traditional and social media to promote open houses in February and in March. Staff also met with stakeholders before and after the Public Meeting on April 2.

Was Guelph’s River Systems Advisory Committee (RSAC) given an opportunity to review policies included in OPA 48?

Yes. RSAC had the opportunity to review the first draft of the OP Update that was released in early 2010 and did provide comments to the City. The comments related to the natural heritage policies and were considered through the finalization and adoption of OPA 42.

RSAC was notified of the release of the revised OP Update in January 2012 and invited to review the material and submit comments.

How can residents learn more about the Official Plan Update?

All documents relating to the three Phases of the Official Plan Update are available online. City planning staff can be reached at City Hall 519-822-1260 or email [email protected].