Kitchener is growing, and the city wants help from residents to plan for the future

The City of Kitchener has begun the process of updating its official plan and is looking for residents from all walks of life to participate in a working group to build a new plan — Kitchener 2051.

Mayor Berry Vrbanovic says Kitchener is one of the fastest growing communities in Canada, and as it grows into a city of over 400,000 people by 2051, the input of residents will be key.

"The whole point of having working group members is really to have folks who are a little more interested in planning … [to] really help guide the process, guide staff and ultimately lead toward the recommendations that will come before council," Vrbanovic told CBC News.

"This kind of long range planning is really important for a community because it helps guide our investments in infrastructure to make sure that as the community continues to grow, we're making sure that we have the amenities that are necessary for the community from a municipal and regional perspective."

The city's official plan is a long-term strategy for how Kitchener will grow. It explains what types of housing will be built and where, as well as everything else that's needed for a growing community.

Applications open for community working group

The city says the development of a new, official plan is an opportunity for Kitchener residents to influence how the city grows.

For residents who want to be involved the city has opened applications for a community working group that will provide guidance throughout the Kitchener 2051 work.

Residents of Kitchener are encouraged to visit the Engage Kitchener page and learn about the community working group that will help guide the new growth plan, and apply if they are interested.

"This big picture, long-term thinking aligns with the development of a new official plan and will speak to how Kitchener will change and grow in the coming years," Vrbanovic said.

"Resident feedback will shape the strategy that determines the type of housing that can be approved, and it will also be used as a guide when considering proposals that require council approval."

Rosa Bustamante, director, planning and housing policy, says Kitchener is growing fast and facing many city-building challenges, especially the housing crisis.

"Kitchener 2051 is an opportunity to tackle these issues head-on, ask big questions, and prepare us for an uncertain future. I look forward to doing that work working with members of our community," Bustamante said.