Official Plan & Zoning By-law

Official Plan Review

Municipalities review their Official Plans on a regular basis to ensure they remain up-to-date, reflect current provincial policy, and represent the long term vision of the municipality. The Rural Hamilton Official Plan and Urban Hamilton Official Plan were approved by the Ontario Municipal Board and came into effect on March 7, 2012 and August 16, 2013, respectively.

The Planning Act, the Places to Grow Act, and the Greenbelt Act all contain municipal requirements to undertake Official Plan reviews and conformity exercises to ensure the City’s official plans are reflective of community goals and objectives, and that they implement the provincial policies contained in the Provincial Policy Statement, the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, and the Greenbelt Plan.

Changes to the Official Plans that implement provincial policies are referred to as a Municipal Comprehensive Review (MCR) or the “Conformity Review”. Changes that are reflective of community goals and objectives are referred to as the “Official Plan Review – Local Context”.

The Official Plan Review is not intended to be a rewrite of the City’s Official Plans, but rather a targeted update to only those sections and policies that require changes to address provincial policies and significant locally-identified issues. The organization and structure of the Official Plans will remain the same.

Binder Cover pages for UHOP & RHOP

The City is undertaking an update to GRIDS, known as GRIDS 2, which is a long term growth strategy to allocate forecasted population and employment growth to the year 2051.  Many of the studies that are required as part of the City’s growth strategy are also part of the City’s Municipal Comprehensive Review (MCR).  As such, the MCR will be completed concurrently with GRIDS 2, which has the benefit of combining the public and stakeholder consultation into one process, and efficiently utilizes staff time and resources.  The outcome of the MCR and GRIDS 2 will be implemented through Official Plan Amendments to the Urban and Rural Hamilton Official Plans.

This flow chart depicts the City of Hamilton’s Municipal Comprehensive Review Process, as it relates to the GRIDS 2 process.

The Conformity Review is a key component of the MCR.  The MCR will result in official plan amendments to each of the Urban and Rural Hamilton Official Plans that comprehensively apply all the necessary changes to reflect the policies of the Provincial Policy Statement and Provincial Plans.  Under Section 26 of the Planning Act, MCR amendments require the approval of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. These amendments are unlike other Official Plan Amendments adopted by Council that are exempt from the approval of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Ontario Regulation 525/97).

The Province has set July 1, 2022 as the date by which municipalities must submit to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing those Official Plan Amendments that address conformity matters as part of the MCR.

City's Municipal Comprehensive Review Process as it relates to the GRIDS 2 process

Project components

The OP review has been broken down into 2 topic-based components - Conformity Review and Local Context Review. Review of the City’s Official Plan policies will occur at the same time as the GRIDS 2 project completes the necessary steps to determine how and where the City will accommodate additional growth. 

Given the timeframe set by the Province, Planning Division staff have structured the Official Plan Review project’s workplan to prioritize the Conformity Review of the City’s Official Plans in relation to the Provincial Plan changes that have occurred since 2017.

The Province allows the MCR to be implemented in phases through more than one Official Plan Amendment.  Staff anticipate the first OPA to be brought forward in Spring / Summer 2022 will focus on Urban conformity issues and conformity issues that are common to both plans.  Staff anticipate a second conformity-related OPA to be brought forward at a later date that will focus on Rural conformity issues. 

Changes to the Provincial Policy Statement and the Provincial Plans result in policy updates to these sections of the City’s Official Plans:

  • Provincial Plans
  • Urban Structure
  • Cultural Heritage
  • Transportation
  • Housing
  • Climate-Related
  • Natural Heritage
  • Infrastructure
  • Implementation
  • Glossary
  • Growth Management
  • Residential Intensification
  • Employment
  • Agriculture/Specialty Crop/Rural (at a later date)
  • Mineral Aggregates (at a later date)

This list may be updated or refined as additional revision areas are identified during the course of the review.

Staff recognizes that updates to the City’s Official Plans will be necessary to address local community issues.  This phase will not be subject to the stringent timelines of the matters related to the MCR conformity review with the Provincial Plans and the resulting Official Plan Amendments will be exempt from the approval of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Once the Conformity Review component of the Official Plan Review has been completed, staff will complete the Official Plan Review process by addressing policy and mapping updates focussing on local community issues, including:

  • Noise
  • Urban Design
  • Waste
  • Neighbourhoods
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Institutional
  • Right-of-Ways
  • Commercial/Mixed Use

This list may be updated or refined as additional revision areas are identified during the course of the review.

Staff reports

Project timeline

  • Summer 2021: General Issues Committee: Commencement of Official Plan Review
  • Fall 2021: Staff Drafting of Conformity Review Official Plan Amendments
  • Winter 2022: General Issues Committee: Draft MCR Conformity Review – Official Plan Amendments and Authorization to Consult, Public Open House (Non-statutory): Public and Stakeholder Consultation on Draft Conformity Official Plan Amendments
  • Winter 2022: Statutory Public Meeting for MCR / OP Review (Sec. 26 Planning Act: Draft Conformity Official Plan Amendments
  • Spring/Summer 2022: General Issues Committee: Approval of Conformity Official Plan Amendments
  • Spring/Summer 2022: Submission of Conformity Official Plan Amendments to the Province (Urban Focus)

Staff anticipate draft Conformity Official Plan Amendments to be brought forward to the public and other stakeholders in Winter 2022.

If you would like to be added to the project mailing list and be notified of project updates, please send your contact information to [email protected].

Contact us

Delia McPhail
City Hall, 4th Floor
Phone: 905-546-2424 ext. 6663
Email: [email protected]

Lauren Vraets
City Hall, 4th Floor
Phone: 905-546-2424 ext. 2634
Email: [email protected]