Planning a Community

Waterdown Planning Projects

What City planning projects are taking place in Waterdown?

The City of Hamilton has three different planning initiatives occurring in the Waterdown area:

  • Waterdown Community Node Secondary Plan Study
  • Waterdown Community Transportation Management Study
  • Waterdown Village Built Heritage Inventory

Map showing the boundaries of the Waterdown planning projects

Waterdown Community Node Secondary Plan Study

The City’s Official Plan identifies the central Waterdown area as a Community Node. It serves as a focal point for the surrounding community.

Purpose of study:

  • to create a plan to help manage change and redevelopment in this area

We want to hear from you about your future vision for central Waterdown.

Project website:

Waterdown Community Transportation Management Study

This study is being completed following the requirements of Phase 1 and 2 of the Municipal Class EA process.

Purpose of study:

  • to review the existing transportation network
  • identify areas for improvements to address existing and future transportation needs
  • build on road improvements already planned or in progress

We want to hear from you about issues and opportunities for transportation improvements.

Project website:

Waterdown Village Built Heritage Inventory

This inventory includes the survey and evaluation of each property in the study area. Preliminary findings and an overview of the historical evolution of Waterdown Village will be available.

Purpose of inventory:

  • to identify what has heritage value or interest in Waterdown

Project website:

Project timelines

Visit the project pages for more details on individual project timelines. Completion of all studies is expected by mid-2021.

How can I get involved?

We need you to tell us your vision for the area. How you can have your voice heard and be informed:

  • Visit the project websites to learn more about each study.
  • Contact us to add your email to our project mailing lists to receive notifications/updates.
  • Attend an event or community meeting. Event notifications are emailed to our contact list.


Frequently asked questions

Answering some of the most frequent questions that we have heard regarding the project and related studies. 

Why are we creating a Secondary Plan for the Waterdown Node?
A City Wide Secondary Plan Review was undertaken by the Planning and Economic Development Department in 2009. This was a comprehensive review of the City of Hamilton to determine where and when Secondary Plans and Community Strategies should be prepared. The Waterdown Community Node area was identified as a one of the priority areas for developing a Secondary Plan based on a number of factors, including:

Direction from the Urban Hamilton Official Plan for Secondary Plans to be prepared for all community nodes;

  • a need to protect the heritage characteristics of the historical downtown
  • a need for urban design guidelines for consistent redevelopment
  • a need to appropriately integrate older areas of Waterdown with newer developing areas
  • the need to address concerns related to traffic and access in the area

In 2014, Council endorsed a strategy with respect to traffic management and land use for the Waterdown Village Core area which directed that the City initiate:

  • the Waterdown Community Node Secondary Plan
  • a Transportation Management Plan for the Waterdown Community Node

What impact can the Secondary Plan process have on directions for the Waterdown Node?
The Waterdown Community Node Secondary Plan will create a vision for the local area influenced by community input and the principles established in the Urban Hamilton Official Plan, and will establish a policy framework to implement that vision. Once the Secondary Plan is approved, new development will be required to:    

  • Comply with Secondary Plan policies, which may give specific direction for land uses, design, building heights, infrastructure, transportation, and other matters. 
  • Be consistent with Urban Design Guidelines for the area, which can give more detailed direction on the design of a site, including size, massing (where different portions of a building are located on a site), setbacks, landscaping, architectural features and building materials.

Isn’t the core of Waterdown already built/developed? 
Yes. Most properties in the Waterdown core already have some type of development on them. However, there will be changes and redevelopment occurring over time. The Secondary Plan is a tool that can be used to guide public and private investment, and manage changes so that they are consistent with the vision and direction set out in the Secondary Plan.

Can the Plan protect properties with heritage value?
Additional policies in the Secondary Plan can relate to preserving heritage character, maintaining the scale of historic streetscapes, transitions to adjacent areas and retention of on-site heritage resources. These directions would provide additional “teeth” to ensure that historic buildings are conserved through the development process. The Waterdown Built Heritage Inventory will also result in the listing of new heritage properties on the Municipal Heritage Register to provide them interim protection from demolition and to help inform additional tools resulting from the Secondary Plan process, such as Urban Design Guidelines.

What other changes may result from the process?
Adjustments to existing zoning regulations may be required if any of the current zoning requirements do not align with the land use directions in the new Secondary Plan.

Are the Commercial Zones in Waterdown new?
Yes. Council approved new Commercial and Mixed Use Zones for the entire City on November 8, 2017. 

The Zoning was appealed to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), formerly the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). The specific regulations under appeal have been scoped and a decision was issued by the LPAT on November 16, 2018, bringing the unappealed portions of the Zoning By-law into effect.  Therefore, some of the new zoning regulations are in effect and some remain under appeal. 

What is the Commercial Zoning based on?
The zoning is based on, and implements the land use designations in the Urban Hamilton Official Plan. Lands designated Mixed Use – Medium Density (e.g. commercial lands in the central Waterdown area) were zoned with a Mixed Use - Medium Density Zone. There are a number of properties which have special exceptions which recognize specific situations or previous permissions for certain properties.     

What are the zones that apply to the commercial lands in the central Waterdown area?
Generally, the commercial properties along Hamilton Street are zoned Mixed Use Medium Density (C5) Zone, and the commercial area on Dundas Street around Main Street and Mill Street South is zoned Mixed Use Medium Density - Pedestrian Focus (C5a) Zone. The main difference between the C5 and the C5a zones is that the C5a zone requires commercial uses on the ground floor of a building, whereas the C5 zone allows commercial as well as other land uses, such as residential, office, institutional, etc. on the ground floor. 

How did the City consult on the new Zoning?
Multiple consultations were held across the City for the zoning in 2015 and 2016:

  • A public information centre was held in Waterdown on October 17, 2016
  • Staff made a presentation to the BIA in March 2015 to explain the projects and the zones
  • Staff attended the City’s BIA Advisory Committee multiple times
  • There were articles in the Flamborough Review
  • The City’s website has/had a dedicated section for the CMU project
  • The Public meeting of the Planning Committee, which considered the proposed CMU Zoning, was advertised in the Spectator and the local newspapers on September 22/23, 2017

What are the height permissions in the C5 and C5a Zones?
The C5 and C5a zones permit a maximum height of 22 metres, which is equivalent to 6 storeys. 

Can anyone build a 6 storey building on their property?
The maximum height that is achievable for a proposed development depends on a number of factors which are unique to each property.  A building must comply with all of the City’s requirements to be able to develop. These requirements, among others, include:

  • Other zoning standards such as building setbacks, parking, and landscaping. The size of a development is limited by its ability to meet other requirements.  Smaller sites may be limited to smaller buildings due to space restrictions. 
  • Urban Design policies for new development in the Urban Hamilton Official Plan. The City’s Urban design staff review each proposal and may recommend changes to ensure an appropriate design, such as reductions in height to prevent shadowing on adjacent properties.   
  • Complying with the requirements of the Ontario Heritage Act, for any proposal that is part of or potentially impacts a building or property designated under the Ontario Heritage Act. Recommendations from Hamilton’s Municipal Heritage Committee can restrict the size or height of a development and can require certain types of architectural design or materials, to ensure the protection of the heritage assets of a property designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.  

What is the Waterdown Inventory project?
The Waterdown Inventory is an initiative to update the City of Hamilton’s database of information on heritage buildings in the village and to inform policies and design guidelines that will guide future change and development in the area. The goal is to evaluate each property to determine if it has cultural heritage value or interest that should be recognized by adding it to the Municipal Heritage Register or further evaluated for potential designation under the Ontario Heritage Act.

What is the study area?
The Waterdown Inventory study area includes the Waterdown Community Node Secondary Plan area and the historic boundaries of the Village of Waterdown, generally described as Lots 6 and 7 of Concession 3 of the former East Flamborough Township and bounded by Mountain Brow Road, First Street, Parkside Drive and Hamilton Street.

What is the Inventory?
The Inventory is a compilation of over 25 years of data on buildings identified as having heritage value or interest. There are no legal restrictions imposed on property through listing on the Inventory. Inventoried properties are not subject to Heritage Permits. There are over 6,700 addresses listed on the Inventory city-wide, and approximately 680 of those are in the Waterdown Inventory study area.

What is the Municipal Heritage Register?
The Municipal Heritage Register is an administrative record of properties designated under the Ontario Heritage Act and properties of heritage value or interest (non-designated). It requires consultation with our Hamilton Municipal Heritage Committee and a Council resolution to include (or remove) a non-designated property on the Register. The Register provides short-term protection from demolition for non-designated properties by requiring an owner to give 60-days notice of their intention to demolish or remove a building or structure on the property. Non-designated registered properties are not subject to Heritage Permits. There are over 1,500 non-designated properties on the Register, 13 of which are in the Waterdown Inventory study area.

What is heritage designation?
A designated property is a significant heritage resource protected by a municipal by-law that identifies why the property has value and what features contribute to its value. Designation does not prevent change, but it allows the City to manage physical changes to a property through the Heritage Permit process. Designated properties are also eligible for City grants and loans to assist with their maintenance, restoration and adaptive reuse. There are over 600 designated properties in the City of Hamilton. Waterdown has 121 designated properties, most of which are in the Mill Street Heritage Conservation District.

How are heritage buildings protected right now?
Part of Waterdown is located within a Heritage Conservation District. All buildings within this area are designated under the Ontario Heritage Act. There are also several buildings outside the heritage district which are designated. Any proposal that is part of or potentially impacts a building or property designated under the Ontario Heritage Act must comply with the requirements of the Ontario Heritage Act. Any proposed changes that would come from redevelopment, such as renovating a heritage building, would require a Heritage Permit through the City’s Heritage Permit process. 

Can a developer demolish a building designated under the Ontario Heritage Act?
The demolition of a designated building is very difficult due to the legislated protections of the Ontario Heritage Act. First, demolishing a building in a heritage conservation district would require an approved Heritage Permit Application under Section 42 of the Ontario Heritage Act. At the time of submission, Cultural Heritage Planning staff would identify what information should be submitted in support of this type of application, e.g., a Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment (CHIA), Building Condition Assessment (BCA), etc. If a Development Planning Application(s) is also required to implement the proposal, Cultural Heritage Planning staff would have additional opportunity to comment and require the submission of required studies. Staff have often included conditions of approval to ensure that related applications are tied together, such a condition of approval for heritage permit subject to an approved Site Plan or Zoning Amendment Application, etc.

What is the difference between a designated property and a registered property?
A registered property means a property listed on the City’s Municipal Heritage Register that is not designated under the Ontario Heritage Act. These properties are not subject to heritage permit requirements, but listing on the Register does provide interim protection from demolition. This does not prevent demolition, but does allow 60 days for staff to take appropriate action (such as initiating the designation process to void a demolition permit) should an owner give notice of proposed demolition. Ideally, the proposed demolition of a registered property would also be subject to a Development Planning Application, which would allow Cultural Heritage Planning staff to require a CHIA and impose conditions of approval as appropriate.

Can new development take place on lands where a designated building is located?
Yes. A designation under the Ontario Heritage Act does not mean that all changes are prohibited. Some sites containing designated buildings can be suitable for some form of intensification or infill development. Sometimes heritage buildings are integrated with new development, have additions added, or are renovated. However, changes must be carefully reviewed to ensure that heritage resources are not negatively impacted. The Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment process would identify what type of intensification would be appropriate without negatively impacting the historic buildings on site and on the adjacent properties.

What does the Waterdown Transportation Study have to do with the Secondary Plan?
There is close relationship between the distribution of land uses in a community and the need to travel. The location, density, and mix of facilities in a city - schools, jobs, groceries, parks, clinics, homes - is really what creates the need for any kind of travel. The distance that these facilities are from where we live and work is a key driver in determining how far and by what mode we need to, want to, or can travel.

As the Secondary Plan is determining the future shape of the Waterdown core with respect to where people will live, work, and play, this will have a direct effect on how people will need to move around in the future. The transportation study needs to be responsive to this, while also providing feedback as to what solutions exist to keep Waterdown moving as it continues to grow. The two studies therefore need to work together to ensure that the goals of the community for land use and mobility are closely aligned.

Is there any change to the future Waterdown By-Pass?  When is this going to be finished?
No changes to the basic alignment or design of the Waterdown By-Pass are currently planned.

The project is being staged in three distinct sections and is contingent on work to be completed by the City of Hamilton and private land developers. Land developers will construct the section through the Waterdown North subdivision west of Centre Road, and the City will construct both the section west of this subdivision to Highway 6 and the section east of Centre Road to Avonsyde Boulevard. Current timing of construction puts the completion of the majority of the bypass from Avonsyde Boulevard westerly to approximately Sadielou Boulevard in the Waterdown North subdivision in 2021. The timing of construction of the final section from Hollybush Drive to Highway 6 is being coordinated, but a timeline to construction has not yet been determined.

Haven’t we done some Transportation Studies already? Why are we doing another one?
The latest Transportation Study for Waterdown was completed in April 2012 and represents the last time that the future mobility needs of the community were holistically reviewed. In the meantime, Waterdown has continued to grow quite significantly, so it is necessary to examine the current state of transportation in the town, and identify the opportunities and solutions to maintain and improve mobility for Waterdown’s residents in the future.

Contact us

For comments, questions or to be added to our project mailing lists, contact:

Waterdown Community Node Secondary Plan
Melanie Pham
Senior Planner, Community Planning & GIS
71 Main Street West, 5th Floor
Phone: 905-546-2424 ext. 6685
Email: [email protected]

Waterdown Community Transportation Management Study
Mohan Philip
Project Manager, Transportation Planning
77 James Street North, Suite 400
Phone: 905-546-2424 ext. 3438
Email: [email protected]

Waterdown Village Built Heritage Inventory
Alissa Golden
Heritage Projects Specialist
28 James Street North, 2nd Floor
Phone: 905-546-2424 ext. 4654
Email: [email protected]