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A Citizen's Guide to the Official Plan: What is an Official Plan?

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What is an Official Plan?
An Official Plan establishes policies for the physical, social and economic growth of the community, and ensures that future planning and development will meet the specific needs of its inhabitants. It is a land-use planning document prepared with input from members of the community to guide development decisions, including:
  • the location and type of housing, employment areas, parks, schools, and hospitals;
  • what services, such as public transit, roads, storm sewers, and fire protection, will be needed; and,
  • how natural areas and ecosystems will be protected.
Official Plans are prepared by municipalities in accordance with their respective Regional Official Plans, as well as the Ontario Planning Act and must adhere to all Provincial policies. The Planning Act provides the legal basis for Official Plans, sets out the required public process to follow when preparing a Plan and establishes the general content of the Plan.

For more information on Official Plans, please see The Citizen’s Guide to Land Use Planning – Chapter 2, from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Why was a new Official Plan needed?
Richmond Hill has experienced significant growth since the adoption of its previous Official Plan. Once considered a medium-sized town on the outskirts of Toronto, Richmond Hill is now at the centre of a thriving urban region. Current direction established by the Region of York to develop Regional Centres and Corridors, key development areas and new transit projects will intensify and change the face of growth and development within the Town’s settlement areas. In order to deal with these changing circumstances effectively, the Town of Richmond Hill needed a new Official Plan.

What is a Secondary Plan?
Secondary Plans provide specific policies for areas identified within an Official Plan as requiring more detailed direction on topics such as land use, urban design and transportation. A Secondary Plan is typically adopted as an amendment to the Town’s Official Plan and outlines the goals, objectives and policies governing the development and redevelopment of land for the area to which it applies. The Town's existing Official Plan has 32 Secondary Plans. 

Clicking this link will open the York Region Website in a new window.What is a Regional Official Plan?
The York Region Official Plan outlines policies that will help guide economic, environmental and community-building decisions affecting the use of land in the Region. Other regional strategies, plans and guidelines provide a framework for decisions made by the Region.

Since there are nine local municipalities within York Region, with their own specific visions and goals, the Regional Official Plan leaves room for a local municipality, such as Richmond Hill, to provide detailed planning policies that conform to the overall framework contained in the Regional Official Plan.

To view the Regional Official Plan, updated September 2007, visit the York Region Website.

More information
Additional information on the planning process may be found on the Planning & Development Department Homepage.

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