Waterloo council has approved new rules for using land, aiming to guide higher buildings, put more people into less space and dissuade people from driving.
The comprehensive zoning bylaw that spells out the new rules is 651 pages long. Council approved it 7-0 Monday. It conforms to a plan that council adopted in 2012 to guide growth.
The city says the new rules are simpler and easier to understand. They replace rules that are decades old.
Pending any appeals, the new rules update permitted land uses. This in turn affects property values.
New buildings can provide less parking, to promote transit and ease climate change. People can operate more businesses inside their homes.
Rules for tall buildings are meant to contain shadows, limit bulk, reinforce a human scale and “create an interesting skyline” in a city that’s growing up rather than out. That’s after residents complained about tall buildings damaging neighbourhood character.
“What we’re trying to get right is: when do we need to trigger a neighbourhood conversation?” Mayor Dave Jaworsky said.
Council is taking further aim at getting people out of cars, with new parking rules for new development, even as the city gains cars at twice the rate it’s adding people.
Since 2006, people who live or work in Waterloo have acquired more cars, and are driving them farther, and in many situations driving them more often, travel surveys reveal.
New tech offices built in the uptown near Waterloo’s rail transit stations must only provide parking for 28 per cent of employees. Until now offices have provided parking for 85 per cent of employees.
Other neighbourhoods would see minimum parking in new projects reduced by 10 to 40 per cent. Developers can provide more parking if they wish.
The city has written new rules to encourage restaurant patios. It also has introduced definitions for activities such as maker spaces, microbreweries, payday loan stores, community gardens and advanced tech.