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Consultation period

A statutory open house and public meeting were held on the proposed Niagara Official Plan in April 2022 in accordance with the Planning Act. Comments for the public meeting were requested by April 28, 2022.

Comments and submissions received will be included in the final Recommendation Report for Niagara Official Plan adoption at Planning and Economic Development Committee on June 15 and Regional Council on June 23. Comments can be submitted until the plan is adopted. Review the proposed Niagara Official Plan - April 2022.

Thank you for participating in the consulting and commenting process, and for your continued interest as we look forward to shaping Niagara 2051.

Proposed Niagara Official Plan

The proposed plan defines how Niagara will use its available land to shape the physical, economic and social development of the region over the next 30 years.

The proposed plan sets out objectives and policies that will:

  • Identify how and where growth will happen
  • Help protect Niagara's natural environment and address our changing climate
  • Ensure Niagara has an adequate and diverse supply of attainable housing
  • Plan for our future infrastructure needs and ensure they’re properly funded
  • Create the right conditions to attract and retain jobs in Niagara

Development of the new proposed Niagara Official Plan was informed by various background initiatives, as well as extensive consultations on the background work, key policy directives, draft individual policy sections, and a draft consolidated plan.

About the Official Plan

Niagara's existing Official Plan was created in the 1970s. It's been updated several times since then, but the time has come to create a brand new plan that reflects where our community is today, and where it will be in 30 years.

The plan includes land-use policies that cover topics like Niagara's natural environment, land needs, growth allocations, housing, transportation, urban design, employment lands and agriculture. These variables are all interconnected, and must be considered holistically to plan for communities that are sustainable, resilient, vibrant and thriving.

  • Attainable housing

    Having a diverse range of attainable housing options is essential to grow Niagara's economy - the Niagara Official Plan will ensure that Niagara has the right mix to manage our future growth sensibly, while protecting what makes Niagara unique.

    Housing prices have climbed dramatically in recent years, and Niagara needs a plan that promotes the range and forms of housing to try to address this issue.

    More housing - particularly more multi-unit forms of housing - is needed to keep housing prices more affordable, which is essential to supporting the economy. Secondary plans (community plans) and urban design are essential tools in strategically locating intensification in a way that best fits the community.

    The Official Plan includes policies for more compact, efficient forms of development, including through better intensification policies.

  • Growth

    According to provincial growth forecasts, Niagara will gain more than 214,000 new residents by 2051. The Province requires us to plan for this growth; we can decide how and where it’s going to occur, and not occur, through the Official Plan.

    The Niagara Official Plan allows us to direct this growth to where it makes sense, mainly in Niagara’s existing urban areas, preventing sprawl.

    For example, downtown St. Catharines is an urban growth centre, which is an area for focused growth, and to keep it away from less developed areas.

  • Housing density

    Housing density is a measure of how many people and jobs can be accommodated in a given area. Intensification is how many new dwelling units can be added to an already built-up area.

    The Niagara Official Plan sets density and intensification targets for different areas of Niagara. The Province sets out the baseline rules that we must implement in a way that makes sense for our region.

    Housing density is relative. What is considered medium or high-density in Niagara is not the same as in other, more urban communities.

    Through good design, we can have communities that incorporate more dense forms of housing while still keeping what makes Niagara unique.

  • Environmental protection

    Niagara is already feeling the impacts of climate change. Rising temperatures and extreme weather events have significant human and environmental costs, and increase financial risks to households, businesses and governments.

    Land use planning is critically important in the fight against climate change. That is why policies across the entire Niagara Official Plan support the transition to low-carbon, climate-resilient communities.

    A dedicated climate change section also highlights additional commitments and actions on climate change, such as preparing a municipal energy plan, implementing a regional greening initiative and developing a climate change adaptation plan.

    The Natural Environment System is just one way that Niagara Region can take action to address climate change. It's important that the system protects important features and maintains biodiversity.

    The Official Plan will also align policy and language with the work of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, ensuring Niagara is taking a clear, streamlined, cooperative approach to conserving our natural features.

  • Economy

    Niagara's current Official Plan is outdated compared to neighbouring communities, particularly around employment lands, and lacks clearly defined employment areas and mapping. This makes Niagara less competitive than other communities.

    Clearly defining and mapping Niagara's employment areas will help direct investment to those areas, attracting and retaining jobs, and growing Niagara's economy.

  • Provincial and local plans

    The Official Plan contributes to the priorities laid out for Niagara in Provincial plans like the:

    It also helps guide Niagara's municipal secondary plans and zoning bylaws, as well as district plans, like the Brock District Plan and the Glendale District Plan.

    The plan will also provide data and guidance critical to the Region's Transportation Master Plan, Water and Wastewater Master Servicing Plan, and Development Charges By-law.

Recent Updates

Learn about the settlement area boundary review preferred recommendations, which set out staff's preferred recommendations for boundary changes following extensive public and stakeholder consultation.

Winter 2022 Public Information Sessions

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Tell us what you think of the proposed Niagara Official Plan policies and mapping.

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Components of the New Niagara Official Plan

Growing Region

How we manage growth and development, with a range and mix of housing types, including affordable housing. Watch the Growing Region video.

Connected Region

How we improve connections with transit, recreation, trails, infrastructure and technology. Watch the Connected Region video.

Competitive Region

How we increase our competitiveness by supporting employment opportunities and protecting agricultural lands. Watch the Competitive Region video.

Vibrant Region

How we enhance the vibrancy of communities by supporting strong urban design and protecting cultural heritage. Watch the Vibrant Region video.

Sustainable Region

How we protect our natural environment and plan for climate change. Watch the Sustainable Region video.

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