Regional Planning and Urban Revitalization in Mid-Sized Cities: A Case Study on Downtown Guelph


  • Audrey C. Jamal


With over a decade having passed since the inception of the provincially led growth plan in Ontario, there is an opportunity to explore how cities have adapted to meet the challenges of this regional-scale plan. The Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe seeks to mitigate the negative eff ects of decades of sprawling development by focusing on building dense, urban, transit-connected communities. While the growth plan has a primary focus on municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area, it is also inclusive of smaller urban centres that sit outside of the province’s Greenbelt. Th ese mid-sized cities have a history of downtown decline and dispersed urban form. With the inclusion of mid-sized cities in the growth plan, however, there is an opportunity to explore the strategies smaller municipalities are using to attract public and private investment and achieve residential and employment provincial targets in their core areas by 2041. Th rough a case study approach, focused on downtown Guelph, Ontario, this paper argues that the growth plan can serve as a catalyst to alter the planning paradigm in mid-sized cities, and that through locally led community planning efforts, and a range of site-specific incentives, mid-sized cities can begin to revitalize their downtowns and reverse core area decline.

Author Biography

Audrey C. Jamal


School of Planning

University of Waterloo