Waterloo city council wants to protect green space and create a walkable, attractive community in a new plan for an as-yet undeveloped northern part of the city.

A newly approved district plan for the Beaver Creek Meadows area of Waterloo, which is located in both wards two and three, will guide staff when people want to develop the area for residential and commercial uses, roads and environmental features, said Ric Martins, a policy planner for growth management for the city, in an interview with CBC News.

Martins said the city's official plan called for the area to have a plan in place before development is even considered.

Green spaces key

Going through the middle of the Beaver Creek Meadows area is a swath of green space and natural features. The green areas, which are partially privately-owned, are already protected by both the region and the city.

The green spaces "are a key component of the plan. They present some challenges as far mobility east and west but they also present a great opportunity for preserving environmental stewardship and having a great amenity in the area," Martins said.

Beaver Creek Meadows map

This map from the Beaver Creek Meadows district plan shows the green spaces (in green), residential areas (yellow) and a "mixed use node" (red) where businesses could potentially go in the area.

It is anticipated the edges of the green spaces, or the buffer areas, will have an extensive trail system, Martins said. But, he added, there are no plans yet to connect those trails with any located within Laurel Creek Conservation Area, which is located to the south of Beaver Creek Meadows.

No big box stores

There is a small "mixed use node" suggested at the intersection of Beaver Creek Road and Conservation Drive. A small grocery store could go there, Martins suggested, or smaller businesses such as coffee shops, live-work units, small office spaces, or mixed-use buildings. He said big box stores are not intended to go in that area.

Martins said upwards of 2,300 homes could go in the areas marked off for residential use.

'We really believe we've created a framework to create a walkable and attractive community.' - Ric Martins, policy planner for the City of Waterloo

"There are a lot of factors that play into that so there may be a little less than that going forward. If the city is looking at a district park, like a soccer field facility, if that locates in this area, that may decrease it. That's kind of an unknown," he said.

'A sense of neighbourhood'

Martins said the plan came together after a two-year public process where they engaged with residents during public meetings, online and through phone calls. But the plan is also very broad for now because there are no detailed plans by developers.

"The intent we're trying to achieve is a complete community, a walkable community with a variety of housing choices and options, with a school, the open space, really creating an area that has a sense of neighbourhood and of community is really what we were trying to achieve as best we can through land use," he said. "More details will come through detailed planning but we really believe we've created a framework to create a walkable and attractive community going forward."