Shaping Guelph: Guelph’s growth management strategy

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Multi-colour images of different types of silhouetted buildings including houses, one with chimney, multi-storey highrise with windows, basillica, and silhouetted crane standing in front of all buildings.

Guelph needs to plan to meet provincial growth forecasts for a population of 203,000 and 116,000 jobs by the year 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.

See the "Project Updates" tab for current engagement opportunities.

Guelph needs to plan to meet provincial growth forecasts for a population of 203,000 and 116,000 jobs by the year 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.

See the "Project Updates" tab for current engagement opportunities.

Ask us your question


Please ask us any questions related to this project or future growth in Guelph.  A response will be provided as soon as we can.


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    Several months ago, Susan Watson asked the following question: "What is the absolute maximum population Guelph can accommodate given that we are a ground-water dependent community and that there is a limit to the waste-water effluent that the river can absorb?" Your answer mentioned "adequate infrastructure" and "master plans that are currently in process." You did not answer Susan Watson's question. With regard to waste-water effluent, I have heard in several City Council meetings that technology will improve so that future effluent levels will not overwhelm the assimilative capacity of the Speed River. I don't think it is good planning to rely on the possibility of sufficient technological improvements to solve the problem of the increase in effluent associated with an increase of 70,000 people over 30 years. Technology doesn't always save the day. Why don't the City Engineers write a letter to the provincial government to explain this substantial problem? Furthermore, it might be necessary to write another letter addressing the challenges of providing enough potable water to 203,000 people in a city that relies solely on groundwater. The take-away point: Guelph might not have the water resources to support 203,000 people in 2051. Why won't the City draw a line in the sand by providing a maximum population based on CURRENT resources and technology? I look forward to reading an ACTUAL answer to this question rather than a canned political one.

    TMBG asked 6 months ago

    As you recognize that there is finite amount of groundwater locally.  The Council approved 2014 Water Supply Master Plan outlines a set of preferred water supply projects to meet the needs for forecasted growth to a planning period ending in 2038, as per Provincial Growth Plan forecasts at the time.   In support of the most recent Provincial growth forecast, we are updating the 2014 Water Supply Master Plan. This work is ongoing and is looking at our water supply needs for a planning horizon ending in 2051.   If, through this Water Supply Master Plan update, it is determined that there is not enough groundwater within or around the City, we can move to supplement the supply using local surface water.  The 2014 Water Supply Master Plan included alternatives to take water from the Speed River at Guelph Lake, treat the water to drinking water standards and distribute the water to our customers.  A future option would also look at taking additional water seasonally from the river, storing it in our deep aquifer (i.e., Aquifer Storage and Recovery) and then return that water at a later date to supplement our water supply system.  A pipeline is not a solution that is being contemplated as part of the Water Supply Master Plan. The focus of the Water Supply Master Plan is on establishing a sustainable water supply for future growth in accordance with direction provided by Council in 2003 as part of development of the City’s first Water Supply Master Plan.

     Next phases of the public engagement program for the Water Supply Master Plan will be commencing later this spring and focus on the outcomes of modelling of supply alternatives and evaluation of preferred projects in meeting 2051 water servicing demands under the Municipal Class EA process.   Please continue to monitor the Water Supply Master Plan project website and “Have Your Say” for information on these upcoming engagements and associated opportunities to provide feedback on this process

     Additionally, as part of the Wastewater Treatment and Biosolids Master Plan work a thorough assimilative study of the Speed river has been conducted. Throughout this study representatives from the Provincial Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and Grand River Conservation Authority have been at the table. At this point in time there are no indications of changes to the final effluent limits that would require significantly advanced technology to treat to the required discharge quality. Wastewater treatment is not considered to be a limiting factor to meet the 2051 population and employment forecasts.

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    Is there a link to April 15th virtual town hall? (Not everybody has FB)

    TMBG asked 6 months ago

    Here is the recording of the April 15 Shaping Guelph virtual town hall.

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    We are seeing a mass migration away from the larger communities with many high-rise buildings (one of the reasons for the rapid acceleration in the cost of homes in Guelph). We believe this is being driven by a general desire by people to reduce the population density where they live. Even the citizens of Guelph are seeking to move to more rural areas around Guelph. Simply put, people want more space around them. With this drive to intensify the population centres, we may be driving many families further from the City, and that may be a result of the "social distancing" required by COVID. Even though we are social creatures, we are also quite adaptable. I understand the Province's efforts to preserve valuable farmland, but the current process is making owning a home into an unrealistic objective for many. Is there another way that is being investigated to address the housing needs of people? You say the Official Plan is built around what people what, and that builders are building what people want. That is completely untrue. People want detached homes with a private yard for their family. They are buying what they can afford.

    LyleMcNair asked 7 months ago

    The Shaping Guelph process began in February 2020 with community conversations about what should be considered in a vision and principles for growth for the next 30 years. Through those conversations we heard there is a strong preference for growth to be contained within the city’s current boundaries, in already developed areas, such as downtown and within nodes and corridors and at higher densities. Additionally, when asked about what type of housing they saw themselves living in in the future, the majority of participants expressed the desire to live in a single detached or semi-detached home. The community also told us that as Guelph grows availability of housing, transportation infrastructure and protection of the environment, especially protection of groundwater, were important considerations. 

    In February 2020 the Housing Analysis and Strategy was released that looked at, among other things, the mix of housing for the future of Guelph.

     Building on conversations with the community held throughout 2020 and the Shaping Guelph technical background studies prepared over the last few months, growth scenarios are being prepared that will look at three different ways that Guelph can grow to 2051. Different housing densities and mixes will be explored through these growth scenarios. Information on the growth scenarios will be available on the Shaping Guelph webpage and the City’s engagement platform in April.

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    With a denser population comes more people needing to travel. With our car-centric city that would mean more cars on the road and more parking demand. Clearly this is untenable. What is the city doing to accommodate and promote other modes of transportation? Is there a funded strategy to get more people on buses, bikes, and feet? What are the targets, and what impact do they have on our carbon footprint, and wallet?

    CTrain232 asked 7 months ago

    There are a couple of reviews/master plans that are in progress that are addressing how people move around and in and out of the city. The Transportation Master Plan update is one that is currently underway. It looks to plan how we will move our growing population throughout the city while maintaining safe, equitable and sustainable travel options. You can learn more about the preferred options being presented to council in May at https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/0e3cfa5e08ba4f49a139fffbd8eeb2c6 .

    In addition to the Transportation Master Plan, we are currently in the process of conducting a transit route review. A holistic route review has been underway over the last year, with a vision to provide a competitive, convenient and reliable transit network to meet the needs of today's and tomorrow's customers. The results of this review will be brought forward for public engagement later this spring. 

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    Can we choose not to meet provincial growth targets? Why grow more when we cannot house those that are already here?

    kathrynfolkl asked 8 months ago

    A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (APTG) requires the City to meet the population and employment forecasts and other density requirements within APTG. There is nothing within APTG that allows municipalities to plan for lower forecasts. 

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    Is there any way to halt the proposal that people be able to build second homes in their backyards. Again ... what is the point of zoning if it can be changed without the affected properties being asked if its "ok". I understand that this is a naive point of view but as I watch the tear down of single family homes and the building of crushed in townhouses and apartments completely decimate the value (dollar and esthetics, and life quality) of affected homes, it saddens me. The thought of each of my neighbors plunking a second home in their backyards is horrifying. I live in Guelph for a reason, and worry that reason is disappearing.

    lori asked 8 months ago

    Accessory apartment and coach house rules have been updated to align the current City of Guelph Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw with the Provincial Planning Act. Changes allow additional residential dwelling units (formerly known as accessory apartments and coach houses) within and on the same lot as detached, semi-detached and rowhouse (townhouse) dwellings, permitting a maximum of three residential units on one residential property. These updated rules are now in effect. More information on the process and reasons for the decision are within the December 2020 report on this matter. 

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    Hello, Don't you think that things have changed and we should now be looking at life through a CoVid19 filtre? It seems that many more people and companies are finding success in working from home. Don't you think this may change the formula for what our "employment lands", might look like. I appreciate the City can not argue with the Province about the push to grow, but more importantly we should be protecting our communities from loss of green spaces. More people are now working from home and this will continue to a great extent, green spaces to walk in or bike in after work/school should be what is mandated.

    Karen Rathwell asked 9 months ago

    The Employment Lands Strategy has a section, section 3.5, which outlines how the impacts of COVID-19 have been considered on the forecast employment growth for Guelph.

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    When it comes to employment lands, is it also being considered that because of the pandemic we've seen a lot of office jobs moved to work-from-home situations?

    mikaelamacht asked 9 months ago

    The Employment Lands Strategy has a section, section 3.5, which outlines how the impacts of COVID-19 have been considered on the forecast employment growth for Guelph. 

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    Is Guelph looking at inclusionary zoning as a means to guarantee a percentage of affordable housing within new developments in the City?

    Drunkmme asked 10 months ago

    Ontario's A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe is being considered through Shaping Guelph. Shaping Guelph will look at where and how to grow for the next 30 years in a way that works best for Guelph. Inclusionary zoning is a tool that can be used to required a percentage of affordable housing units within major transit station areas. This tool may be explored once Shaping Guelph has been completed.

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    What thought process goes to the neighbors of the new buildings that have the streets congested with over flow of the tenants / owners that needs parking? Why not put no parking on the streets close to these buildings so it does not become s nuisance for residents that don’t need to use street parking and don’t want the traffic flow in front of our homes. When you give permits for the buildings the parking availability should be thought of and not rely on neighbouring streets. Is this suppose to help encourage taking public transit? It’s not working. We live on a street that we all have 4 car driveways and should not have parking on the street only to accommodate as a parking lot. When you are planning a community do you keep in mind of house owners as well and our want to have a reasonable quite street.

    McIntyre asked 11 months ago

    Parking rates, the amount of parking that is required for each residential unit, are set out in the City's zoning bylaw. Shaping Guelph is looking at, among other things, locations for new houses to accommodate our growing population. Earlier this year we asked the Guelph community for their input on where and how new houses should be added to our already developed areas. Now we are looking at different scenarios for growth - different ways that we can direct growth to different areas of Guelph. There is a survey open until December 18 where you can review one growth scenario that has been developed and let us know what other scenarios should be explored.

Page last updated: 06 October 2021, 12:31