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Official Plan Review

The Town of Carleton Place is seeking feedback from residents and stakeholders regarding the future growth and planning of our Town. We have initiated an Official Plan Review to evaluate the options for growth planning and management of the Town to the year 2038. We want to ensure that EVERYONE, including residents, businesses and developers, have a say in the Official Plan process.

In 2019, the County of Lanark adopted population projections which the Town of Carleton Place is required to plan to accommodate over the next 20 years.  The County has indicated that Carleton Place is projected to grow to a population of 20,964 (an increase of 97%).  The County is also in the process of updating these projections and is expected to provide new information to the Town in 2023.


The Official Plan Review involves two stages of analysis:

Stage 1 – Comprehensive Review

This stage answers the question: Do we have enough land to meet our residential and employment needs over the next 20 years?

The land needs analysis was completed by JL Richards and Associates and culminated in the presentation of three (3) grown scenarios:

clipart of 4 apartment buildings

Growth Scenario 1: Infill & Intensification of vacant lands and strategic properties in the existing built-up area only, excluding all greenfields.

clipart of 2 houses and a tree

Growth Scenario 2: Growth including urban greenfields in addition to all other vacant land within the existing built-up area, including a future residential district.

clipart of 3 houses and a road

Growth Scenario 3: Growth including both urban greenfields and rural greenfields (e.g., annexed lands) in addition to all other vacant land within the existing built-up area.

Each of the three (3) proposed Growth Scenarios can be explored in more detail in the virtual package. This package was generated for early pre-consultation to gather feedback from the community on growth preferences.  A summary of the feedback can be found in the published “As We Heard It”  Report.

Council has not made a final decision regarding which scenario is the preferred approach.

Stage 2 – Policy Amendment

Council has also directed staff to look at five (5) key policy areas which are in need of an update to reflect current community values.    The five policy areas include:

  1. Policies 3.1 and 3.2 Mississippi District
  2. Policy 3.3 Highway District; 
  3. Policy 3.5 Residential District; 
  4. Policy 4.1 Green Infrastructure; 
  5. Policy 6.21.1 Affordable Housing; 

In order to identify current community values, Council appointed an Ad Hoc Committee to provide feedback on the existing policies and direction on the future of community development in Carleton Place.

This feedback of the Committee was used to generate an “As We Heard It Report” and presented to Council in September, 2022.

The comments received from the initial public consultation and work of the Ad Hoc Committee were used to generate a track-change working draft of an updated Official Plan.  This draft will be presented for public consultation and further refined based on comments from the community.

Notice of Open House and Public Meeting

The Town will be undertaking the statutory public consultation process for the Official Plan Amendment in Spring 2023.  The Public Consultation Process will include virtual and in-person Open Houses and Public Meetings as well as a general open call for comments.

Keep an eye out for invitations to participate in public consultation by:

    1. Signing up for CP Scoop  
    2. Follow us on social media  
    3. Sign up for the Planning Department’s Mail List by emailing planning@carletonplace.ca with the subject line “CPOP”

An Open House allows residents the opportunity to view and ask questions about the amendment. Posters illustrating the proposal are available and staff are present to speak with residents.

The Statutory Public Meeting is conducted at a Council meeting and includes a summary presentation of the amendment by staff and a Question and Answer period for members of the public.

When Participating in Public Consultation, residents should:

open book icon Step 1 – Review the materials provided in this virtual package.
thinking icon Step 2 – Think critically about how the policy change may impact you and the development of the community.
email icon Step 3 – Provide your comments, thoughts or questions on the amendment to staff by following the links provided.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What is an Official Plan?

An Official Plan provides the policy framework to guide the Town’s physical development including:

  • Where new housing, industry, offices and shops will be located
  • How growth is coordinated and meets the community's needs
  • What services like roads, watermains, sewers, parks and schools will be needed
  • When, and in what order, parts of the community will grow
  • How natural systems and heritage can be preserved

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has some great citizen resources to help explain Official Plans and Land Use Planning in general.  More information can be found on their website.

Q: Why is the Official Plan being reviewed?

The Provincial Planning Act (Section 26) requires that the Town’s Official Plan be reviewed every five (5) years to ensure it conforms to Provincial legislation, policy and plans.

The Town adopted its last comprehensive review of the Official Plan in 2015, which was approved by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing in 2016.

Since 2015, the Province has updated the Planning Act and released a new Provincial Policy Statement. The new Provincial Policy Statement came into effect on May 1, 2020 and resulted in significant changes to the policy framework to enable the creation of more housing options. 

In 2018, the County of Lanark also adopted an amendment to its Sustainable Communities Official Plan (SCOP) to set population projections for all lower tier communities within its boundaries.  While these numbers are projections, the Town has to show how we can accommodate up to that level of growth.  The County has projected a population for Carleton Place of 20,964 by 2038, an increase of 97% from the Town’s 2016 population of 10,644.

Q: How did the County assign the population projections?

In 2018, the County of Lanark worked with consultants at Dillon Associates to calculate population growth across the entire County.  The forecast was based on historic population data available from Statistics Canada for the entire geographic area.  Once the forecasted increase was determined, the population was allocated to the lower tier municipalities on the basis that the majority of growth should occur in areas serviced by water and sewer services.  With adequate capacity and land area within the urban boundary, an increase of 10,320 people was assigned to the Town of Carleton Place.

Historical and Projected Population by Municipality to the Year 2038

  2016 Census 2038 County Council Increase
Beckwith 7,644 14,262 87%
Carleton Place 10,644 20,964 97%
Drummond North Elmsley 7,773 12,549 61%
Montague 3,761 4,857 29%
Mississippi Mills 13,163 21,122 60%
Lanark Highlands 5,338 7,507 41%
Tay Valley 5,665 7,097 25%
Perth 5,930 8,085 36%
Lanark County 59,918 96,443 61%

Q: Do we really have to grow to 97%?

Not necessarily.  The 97% increase is a forecasted number based on historic trends and represents a prediction of what growth will look like. 

The Town does however have to plan for how the potential growth could be accommodated.  This includes making sure that our water and wastewater infrastructure has adequate capacity, that we have enough “soft services” like parks, libraries, and community centers; and that we know roughly how much land we would need available for the construction of new dwellings.

Q: Can we see a “No Growth” option?

Land use planning policy in the Province of Ontario is not designed to consider a “no growth” scenario as a realistic option.  Ontario is a populous and growing province, and that growth is not necessarily evenly distributed across all regions.  The Provincial Policy Statement dictates that the majority of new growth and development should occur in serviced urban centers, such as the Town of Carleton Place.  This means that the Town feels disproportionate growing pains to some of our rural neighbours, but it also means that we benefit from the advantages of central serviced development.

New growth brings opportunities such as upgrades to the Town’s infrastructure to modernize and increase efficiency, results in the construction of new and different recreation spaces and helps develop the population needed to support our local small-town economy.

While long-term residents may feel the anxiety generated from the fear of the loss of the “old Town feel”, land use policy has the ability to manage and limit the negative impacts of growth on the existing community.

To ensure new growth compliments the existing sense of place within the Town, it is imperative that residents participate in the development of these fundamental land use planning policies.  For more information on participating in the public process, check out the “public consultation” links on this page.

Q: Can Council re-consider the population projection?

The population projections are assigned by the County of Lanark and while there is a process for the Town to influence the number at the time it is assigned, it is much more difficult and costly to request a reconsideration after the decision is made.  If the County reduced the allocation to the Town of Carleton Place, the offset would need to be reassigned to another local municipality(s) within the County.  This decision would have to be reviewed and justified in accordance with the Planning Act and Provincial Policy Statement and would take the cooperation of the impacted parties to facilitate.

The County has indicated that the current projection will be reviewed again in 2023 at which time the Town could challenge the figure or request a reduction in the assigned projected growth. 

Q: Is adding more people to the community going to impact our water treatment plant and availability of water?

The Town’s water treatment plant was operating at an average capacity of 75% during peak water usage months in 2020.  Without expansion, the plant can accommodate approximately 1,600 additional homes.  In preparation for the forecasted increased demand on the plant due to growth, the Town is in the process of completing an Environmental Assessment to establish the design parameters for an upgrade of the plant currently scheduled for 2025. 

Costs associated with the planning and expansion of the plant are intended to be supported through the collection of Development Charges which are charged to developers at the time building permits are issued for new residential units and for the construction of additional commercial/industrial development.   The expansion of the plant is not anticipated to impact residential or commercial/industrial water bills.

Q: I’m concerned we are growing too fast. Can we slow down growth?

Yes, there are certainly policies and practices that the Town can employ to stage and sequence growth.  At this time, the pace of growth has been largely dictated by the real estate market which has resulted in an annual building average of 242 new units a year over the last five (5) years.  This activity exceeds the forecasted annual growth of 215 units by 12%.

Slowing and managing growth will be a component of discussion during the Comprehensive Review.

Q: I’m concerned about finding a job in Town.  Is this review going to look at employment opportunities?

Yes, as part of the requirements of the Comprehensive Review, the Town has to consider whether or not there is sufficient land area to accommodate the creation of new employment opportunities for residents. 

The review of different types of employment opportunities will be considered more thoroughly during the policy review of the Town’s “Highway Commercial” District.

Q: I don’t want to see the Town sprawl into agricultural lands; is that being considered?

No sprawl into agricultural lands is being considered at this time.  Based on the existing land area within the Town of Carleton Place, the forecasted growth does not require the expansion of the Town’s boundary. 

Q: Every time a new subdivision begins construction, it looks like the entire site is cleared of all the existing trees.  Is this necessary?

There is no doubt that building an urban subdivision results in the loss of significant existing trees on a site.  Prior to the approval of a new subdivision, the Town requires the completion of a Tree Inventory and Preservation Plan.  These studies look to examine the age, health and type of trees on the property. 

Trees are documented and evaluated and where possible, they are preserved.  The subdivision plan is also designed around “natural heritage features” like waterways, wetlands and natural habitats for species at risk.

Given the Town’s geology however, it is often the case that the majority of the development lands require significant excavation of rock for services and basements.  As a result, the Town’s current Official Plan requires that tree loss be compensated at a 3 to 1 ratio as part of a reforestation plan.

While this process results in the upfront loss of a large number of dense wooded areas the Town makes every effort to ensure that the future canopy of the neighborhood is diverse, healthy, and sustainable.  Not every wooded area is considered to be a healthy and sustainable ecosystem; ecologists are finding an increase in the infiltration of invasive species that choke out or compromise native trees.

Q: I’m really worried about the price of housing.  What is the Town doing to consider creating more affordable housing?

There is no question that the housing market is quickly pricing families out of affordable homes.  This is a crisis of national proportion and while there are factors that contribute to housing affordability, the Town of Carleton Place is taking steps to try and offer incentives which will lead to the development of more affordable houses locally.

For a review of the steps Council has taken to date to encourage and enhance affordable housing, please check out the Town’s Affordable Housing Initiatives Brief.

Important Docs and Links

Residents with further questions are encouraged to contact the undersigned for more information.

Niki Dwyer, MCIP, RPP MA BES, Director of Development Services
Town of Carleton Place
Email: ndwyer@carletonplace.ca