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Creating a New Niagara Official Plan

The Niagara Official Plan is a set of policies that define how Niagara will use its available land to shape the physical, economic and social development of the region over the next 30 years.

Having a new Official Plan in place will allow us to:

  • Determine how and where growth will happen, shaping Niagara into the community we want
  • Make sure 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
  • Help protect Niagara's natural environment and address our changing climate through policies

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.

Niagara Region is currently drafting the policies that will be included in the plan, a consolidated draft Official Plan is expected to be complete by the end of 2021 for review.

  • 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 will have 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 will allow 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 will set 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

    The climate change section of the Niagara Official Plan will have policy that supports other sections of the Official Plan to address changing climate. The plan will also include policies that support the development of a Regional Greening Initiative, already underway.

    Climate change policies are also integrated throughout Provincial plans, like the Greenbelt Plan, the Growth Plan, and others, demonstrating the interconnectedness of policies to address climate change.

    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.

Archaeological Management Plan

Learn about the proposed archaeological review process and policies.

Settlement Area Boundary Review Mapping

This mapping tool provides information on requests for candidate expansion and employment conversions associated with Niagara Region's Settlement Area Boundary Review. This tool shouldn't be used for any other purpose. Mapping was last updated on Sept. 1, 2021 and may not reflect all sites under review

All requested or identified sites will be reported on as part of a future boundary review report. The report will go to Planning and Economic Development Committee and Regional Council.

Commenting through this mapping tool is no longer available. To provide comments, email the Official Plan team.

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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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