Downtown Background Paper 

Cover of the Downtown Developments Background PaperThe Downtown Background Paper covers the following topics:

- The Importance of Downtowns
- Existing Province of Ontario Policies
- Existing City of Brantford Policies
- Issues and Key Policy Direction

Download the Downtown Background Paper (700 kb). This document is in Adobe PDF format and will require the Adobe PDF Reader Plugin.


The Importance of Downtowns

The City of Brantford Downtown Master Plan (2008) was prepared to support the City's ambition for "making the Downtown a vibrant and successful hub for all". The Downtown is important to the City because:

  • A Downtown - as the heart of the community and the only genuinely shared meeting space that is accessible to all - symbolizes the heritage of a community and provides a sense of identity for a city;
  • Thriving Downtowns are typified by high levels of pedestrian activity, a differentiated retail offer, well preserved historic reference points (buildings, monuments and parks), strong tourist appeal and the presence of a range of residential accommodations, respected civic and institutional amenities.
  • Downtown living is critical to bring activity, create safe spaces and generate on-going demand for services; and
  • Revitalizing a Downtown stimulates residential and business growth in the City Centre, maximizes the utilization of public resources, and provides tax diversification. Features such as unique shopping and dining opportunities, tourist attractions, residential living, employment possibilities, and recreational outlets translate into economic stability and a positive image for the City. A health core is integral to a city's overall social and economic success.

Issues and Key Policy Direction

The following table summarizes the Downtown issues related to the current policy framework and any requirements to implement related Provincial legislation. The purpose of the following table is to generate input and discussion on the issues and the proposed key policy directions that are being considered for the new Official Plan policies. 

Identified Issues Key Policy Directions Proposed
The current goals and objectives of the Official Plan only recognize the economic importance of Downtown Brantford. The Official Plan does not contain policies that acknowledge the other valuable cultural and social contributions a thriving Downtown makes to the growth and livability of a City.    Adopt a policy the recognizes the economic, arts, cultural and social importance of Downtown Brantford.
Different interpretations about what is "Downtown Brantford". The current Official Plan, the Downtown Master Plan, the Downtown Streetscape Design Plan and the Waterfront Master Plan identify the "Downtown" differently, both in terms of its location, vision and policy description. For example, some documents include the Casino and the larger format retailers south of the Farmers Market in their vision of "Downtown", while others focus on the traditional "Downtown" core. The Provincially designated "Urban Growth Centre" also uses different boundaries for the Downtown. Develop mapping that accurately reflects the "Urban Growth Centre" limit identified in the Growth Plan and the "Downtown" boundary identified in the Downtown Master Plan.

Create policy to address the vision for those areas outside of the "Urban Growth Centre (UGC)", but still identified in other Downtown planning documents.
Limited Official Plan policy dealing with the public realm, such as streets, sidewalks, and open spaces, etc. Other policy documents provide greater detail concerning the physical features of the public realm in Downtown including detail about a vision for the public realm of Brantford (i.e. streets, sidewalks, open space). Develop policy to create a vibrant, welcoming public realm in the Official Plan, in addition to policies respecting land uses and the built form of buildings.
There are limited urban design guidelines for the Downtown in the current Official Plan. The current Official Plan contains Downtown policies to preserve or enhance heritage character, human-scale built form, pedestrian orientation, and attractive streetscapes. However, other documents contain more detailed policy direction on how to achieve these goals. Incorporate urban design direction that has been recommended in various reports, plans, and studies undertaken to date. Since documents may vary, it will be necessary to determine the most appropriate urban design elements.
There are a number of under-used Planning Act tools that can be used to implement the visions for Downtown Brantford. The current Official Plan give the authority to use Zoning, Site Plan Control, and Community Improvement Plans to implement Official Plan policies, and these tools have been used to encourage desired land use and built form. An additional tool for consideration is bonusing to encourage increased height or density of a building. Adopt bonusing policies and procedures in the Official Plan that can be used to implement the vision for Downtown Brantford.
Clarify the role of post-secondary education in the Downtown. The current Official Plan has an over-arching statement acknowledging the importance that post-secondary education plays in the Downtown. However, more contemporary plans, including the Downtown Master Plan and the Wilfrid Laurier University Campus Master Plan provide more direction about how post-secondary education will be received in Downtown. Permit post-secondary education uses throughout the Downtown, while ensuring that the primary function of the Downtown as a mixed-used community is maintained.
There is no reference in the Official Plan that ties the Downtown to the Grand River. The Waterfront Master Plan includes a number of policies intended to take advantage of the close location of the Grand River to the Downtown. Adopt Official Plan policies that protect and encourage views, vistas, and pedestrian connectivity between the Downtown and the Grand River.
Issues and Policy Directions: Downtown

Join the Conversation! 

Please share your feedback by contacting Nicole Wilmot, Manager of Policy Planning, by email or by telephone at 519-759-4150.

Related Reports and Documents

The following documents are in Adobe PDF format and will require the Adobe PDF Reader Plugin. Each document will open in a new browser window.