The City of Cambridge 2018 Consolidated Official Plan is a policy document providing direction for general land use in the City. The Plan supports long-term growth and development in order to meet the community's needs. It also provides a way to manage issues related to land use, while still meeting the interests of the City, and achieving conformity with the Region of Waterloo Official Plan and the Provincial Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

What information can I find in the Official Plan?

An Official Plan includes written information and maps related to general land use. The Cambridge Official Plan includes policies describing land use designations within the City and a general list of permitted uses in each of the designations. Maps also show which lands fall under which land use designations.

The Official Plan includes policies for the following areas:

  • Housing
  • Commercial
  • Industrial
  • Cultural heritage
  • Natural heritage
  • Agricultural
  • Parks and open space
  • Transportation and infrastructure
How can I learn more about the City's Official Plan?
View the Official Plan Citizen's Guide for more information.
How does the City update the Official Plan?

An Official Plan is a legal document. The City periodically reviews this document to ensure that it still meets the changing economic, social and environmental needs of the City, and addresses Provincial and Regional policies. Sometimes a review identifies required changes to certain policies and/or map designations.

Changes (also called amendments) to the Official Plan must go through the amendment process outlined in the Ontario Planning Act. This process includes opportunities for public input before the City finalizes any changes to the document. After the City adopts an Official Plan amendment, it goes to Regional Council for approval.

Before drafting a new Official Plan, the City undertakes extensive analysis and consults with the public, stakeholders and technical agencies.

What is the Planning Act?
Passed by the Province of Ontario, the Planning Act is a legal document that sets out the ground rules for land use planning in Ontario.
What else does the Official Plan do?

The City's Official Plan is an over-arching document that guides a number of local processes, such as:

  • Zoning By-laws
  • Site Plans
  • City budgets
What areas does the Official Plan impact?
The Official Plan applies to all land within the City of Cambridge. It provides a vision for future growth and generally guides where new homes, schools, businesses and parks should be located. The Official Plan includes policies with respect to the construction of new services, such as roads and sewers, as well as protecting our natural and built heritage.
How did the City develop its current Official Plan?

On May 7, 2012 Cambridge City Council adopted the 2012 Cambridge Official Plan. The Plan was approved by the Region of Waterloo Council on November 21, 2012, with a Notice of Approval including modifications and deferrals.

The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) received several appeals for the Cambridge Official Plan after the Region's approval, some of which have been resolved. To learn about policies not yet in effect, view our list of Official Plan outstanding appeals.

The following reports and documents helped the City develop our current Official Plan:

What is the difference between an Official Plan and a Zoning By-law?

The Official Plan sets out the City's general policies for current and future land uses. Our Zoning By-law outlines the permitted uses (e.g. commercial or residential) and the required standards (e.g. building size and location) in each area.

Zoning By-law regulations implement the policies of the Official Plan with more detailed regulations. Most municipal Zoning By-laws divide the municipality into different land use areas referred to as zones. Detailed maps show these zones within the City. A municipality can't issue a Building Permit for construction of new development that doesn't meet Zoning By-law requirements.

Map of City showing subject area in the red box.


Map of City of Cambridge showing subject area in a red box

Air photo of subject area (north part of Hespeler), east of Highway 24, south of Blackridge Road


air photo of subject area

Same area displaying the Official Plan Designations. Notice that the Official Plan Designations are quite broad in classifying lands as Residential (Class 1, Urban), Open Space (Class 1, Significant Natural Features), and to the north, Agricultural Resource District (Class 1, Prime).


official plan designations

Same area displaying the more detailed Zoning Classifications of Low Density Residential, Medium High Density Residential, Open Space, Industrial and Agricultural.


map showing detailed zoning classifications

Same area showing the subdivision plans.


map showing subdivision plans

How does the City monitor growth?

The annual Growth and Staging of Development Report reviews residential development that occurred during the year and reviews the inventory of units on applications. The report comments on the ability of the current development applications to meet the forecasted demand for the next three and ten years, and longer range growth targets.