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For many years, the City of Waterloo was developed as a suburban community, characterized by low-rise buildings with plenty of surface parking. 

As the population grew, the city started expanding towards its outer urban edges, and in 2005, approved the height and density study to promote higher density development along its primary nodes and corridors for a more compact city form.

To help guide more intensive forms of development, we created urban design guidelines to promote compatible infill development used in the development review process. Most recently, we have updated our official plan to recognize the province's mandate for higher density, more complete communities. We have also introduced new land-use policies that will guide development to 2031, alongside the new Light Rail Transit (LRT) system approved by the Region of Waterloo. We will continue to update zoning by-laws, and new regulations will be required to implement the official plan policies.

Today, Waterloo is experiencing significant development interest in underutilized properties across the city, including:

  • The Barrel Yards mixed-use development in uptown Waterloo
  • The Boardwalk Centre located on the west side
  • The Waterloo Corporate Campus located on the former NCR lands in north Waterloo
  • The ExChange office campus in north Waterloo
  • The Wilfrid Laurier Global Innovation Exchange (GIE) on the north-east side
  • The Vista Hills residential neighbourhood located on the west side
  • Several major student housing and mixed-use projects located in the Northdale neighbourhood

City-owned lands

The City of Waterloo owns numerous properties in the uptown core and west side of the city. In the uptown, we own 11 parcels of land. City council has created an uptown priority list to guide the sales of these properties. On the west side, we own about 150 acres of land planned for employment use.

As part of our economic development strategy, these properties will be sold through a city-initiated process subject to terms and conditions. More information will be available in the near future.

The Bauer Buildings, WaterlooThe Bauer Buildings, Waterloo



We establish our infrastructure priorities through the staging of development report and the uptown core area infrastructure study. Infrastructure needs are also assessed through the development review process. In recent years, an investment has been made in upgrading several services. All applicants are encouraged to consult the City of Waterloo to determine the current infrastructure capacity. Additional consultation may be required with partners such as the Region of Waterloo and Waterloo North Hydro.

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