Kitchener's population is on the rise. Every year, more and more people are choosing to make our city their home. This growth can put pressure on established neighbourhoods as people search for housing to meet their needs. But growth, done right, provides a great opportunity to add to the rich character of the neighbourhood.

As a result, the city took a close look at the planning approval process for development in established neighbourhoods to see if changes to the process were necessary. The purpose was to develop a clear and fair process for approving development projects in these established neighbourhoods.

Currently development proposals are considered based on factors including: the size and impact that the proposal will have on the neighbourhood, and the zoning bylaws and urban design standards that are in place. Each factor dictates which planning policies and regulations apply. In some cases, projects are approved by staff while others require council or committee of adjustment approval and must go through a public input process. 

Through the study, several recommendations were made to update the process for developments with the intent to further ensure that they blend in with the neighbourhood, and to better inform neighbouring residents about upcoming changes and how they may be able to get involved in the process. 

Project updates

The final report recommendations were approved by council on March 20, 2017. Since that time, staff has completed the following: 

  • Public information and awareness - A educational guide is has now been published to provide more information on the development process and how citizens can provide feedback. Paper copies are available at City Hall, 6th Floor, Planning Division or check out the online version.

  • Process enhancements - Signs are now posted on the property for Committee of Adjustment applications city-wide.

  • New zoning rules for the location of garages and front yard setbacks are now in effect. View By-law 2018-094 - Implementation of specific Residential Intensification in Established Neighbourhoods (RIENS) Recommendations.

Staff is currently working on the following items:


Results of study

RIENS Final Report - Approved March 20, 2017
The RIENS final report and recommendations was presented to the planning & strategic initiatives committee on Monday, March 6 at 6 p.m followed by Council's decision on March 20. Implementation of the RIENS recommendations will occur over the next few years.

Send us an email to download a copy of these documents:

  • Final report
  • What we heard - consolidated feedback

Public engagement

The public was engaged throughout this project as outlined below:

Public meeting - March 8, 2016
An introductory public meeting was held on March 8 to provide an overview of the project and answer questions from the public about the process.

Send us an email to download a copy of these documents:

  • presentation materials from the public meeting
  • questions asked (with responses) and comments from the public meeting

Stakeholder meetings - April 6, June 23, and Nov. 3, 2016
The stakeholder group was made up of individuals who expressed an interest in participating in more in depth conversations about the project. A summary of stakeholder session discussions is included in the consolidated feedback.

Issues and options report - May 16, 2016
The Issues and Options Report was tabled at a council strategy session.  The purpose of this report is to:

  • Provide the Kitchener context (state of intensification, how development is currently approved). 
  • Review other practices (how other municipalities address development in established neighbourhoods). 
  • Provide analysis of different practices/options in the form of a "menu" of options - meaning the recommended approach could be a combination of more than one option.

This report provides the background information and discussion of options that led into the next phase of community engagement. Send us an email to download a copy of the Issues & Options Report.

Public workshop - June 14, 2016
The first public workshop was an interactive session to get citizen feedback about top priorities for ensuring compatibility in the study area and what options should be considered to make new development compatible with the neighborhood.

Bus tour - Oct. 4, 2016
A bus tour of the study area was held to provide an opportunity for members of council and the community to hear how new development may affect parts of the study area and how options could relate to different neighbourhoods. Send us an email to download a copy of the booklet provided at the tour.

Public workshop - Oct. 27, 2016
A public workshop was held to give an overview of the draft recommended approach and receive feedback from the public on the approach.

Digital survey - Nov 1-Dec. 13, 2016
Residents were asked to provide feedback through Engage Kitchener. Thanks to those who provided input.

Study area

The study is focusing on the central and Vanier neighbourhoods as outlined in red on the map of the study area.

The study area boundaries are as follows:

Central neighbourhood:

  • Westmount Road (west)
  • Conestoga Parkway (south and east)
  • City of Waterloo boundary (north)

Vanier neighbourhood:

  • Conestoga Parkway (north)
  • Highway 8 (east)
  • Fairway Road (south)
  • Courtland Avenue (west)

As a city, we want to have an effective process in place to ensure development is done right. Input from the community is essential to help us make decisions about the process for reviewing and approving development applications including when and how much consultation should take place.