Planning Committee May 4 Meeting

The City has initiated a Secondary Plan exercise for the “Rockland West Secondary Plan” lands which are located south of County Road 17, west of Poupart Road, in Rockland. The Secondary Plan will follow the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (Class EA) process. J.L. Richards and Associates Ltd. were hired by the City to undertake such a study in collaboration with the City and its residents.  

A Secondary Plan guides how Official Plan policies are put in place in key areas of the City. A Secondary Plan will provide specific schedules and policies for the expansion lands where we need a detailed direction for land use, infrastructure, transportation, environment, urban design and similar matters that are required beyond the general framework by the Official Plan.  

The study area comprises approximately 36 hectares of lands and is designated as Special Study Area 1. The Official Plan requires the preparation of special studies to determine the lands’ future development potential. The Secondary Plan will follow the Municipal Class EA and Planning Act process to establish a coordinated planning solution for the development of this area.  

The purpose of the study is to create a long-term infrastructure plan for water, wastewater, stormwater, and transportation servicing for the development of Special Study Area 1. This process will help to identify system requirements and assist with long-term capital planning. 

Location of Secondary Plan Study

Marie-Eve Bélanger

Manager of Development

City of Clarence-Rockland 

1560 Laurier Street 

Rockland, Ontario K4K 1P7 

Phone: 613-446-6022 ext. 2250 


Marc Rivet RPP, MCIP 

Senior Planner 

J.L. Richards & Associates Limited 

864 Lady Ellen Place 

Ottawa, Ontario K1Z 5M2 

Phone:  343-803-4533 

Report PE2022-042


The purpose of this report is to provide Planning Committee and Council with an overview of the work that has been completed thus far to support the Municipal Class EA and Planning Act processes and approvals for the Rockland West Secondary Plan lands and to seek Council’s approval of the recommended land uses stemming from the Market Needs Study and our review of applicable policies and the City’s Economic Development Strategy.

Directive/Previous policy


Department’s recommendation

WHEREAS the City of Clarence-Rockland remains committed to ensuring a diverse land use base to accommodate population and employment needs over a 25-year planning horizon; and

WHEREAS the City of Clarence-Rockland has developed an Economic Development Strategy that prioritizes the sustainable economic future for the Residents and Business of Clarence-Rockland and recommends continued growth in the City’s key industry sectors; and

WHEREAS the City of Clarence-Rockland is requiring both Municipal Class EA and Planning Act processes and approvals to implement the Rockland West Secondary Plan; and

WHEREAS the Market Needs Study completed for Rockland West Secondary Plan lands recommends the provision of a range of uses to support the local economy, including business park, service commercial, tourist recreation commercial, and major open space.

THAT the Planning Committee recommends that Council approves the proposed land uses of the Market Needs Study and provide direction to Staff to complete Phase 1 of the Municipal Class EA process.


Subject lands

As part of the 2021 budget, RFP (2021-003) was created to commence background studies, plans and policies for the Rockland West Secondary Plan (RWSP) lands. The scope of work includes:

  • following Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (EA) and Planning Act processes
  • developing servicing, environmental and transportation options for the lands; and
  • gaining approvals to implement land use framework for these lands.

The RWSP lands are in the west end of the City of Clarence-Rockland’s urban area, south of County Road 17. At approximately 43.14 hectares (ha) the lands are currently designated by the Official Plan of the Urban Area of the City of Clarence-Rockland as Special Study Area (SSA1), which requires the adoption of a Secondary Plan to permit the development of the lands.

Figure 1 below shows the RWSP lands. The area of the site presently considered as “developable” is approximately 43.14 hectares (ha).

Map that shows the RWSP lands. The area of the site presently considered as “developable” is approximately 43.14 hectares (ha).


Project Team

Following the City’s established Request for Proposals process, as lead consultant, J.L. Richards & Associates Ltd. (JLR) was awarded the contract for the Rockland West Secondary Plan lands.

Founded in 1955, JLR has been a long-time consultant to the City of Clarence- Rockland and has a breadth of planning and civil engineering experience in policy development and environmental assessments.

The RWSP project team consists of members from JLR’s planning and urban design team, as well as its civil engineering team. The project team is supported by Shore Tanner and Associates (Market Study) and Bowfin Environmental Consulting (Environmental Study). The findings from Shore Tanner and Associates’ Market Study are presented in the discussion section of this Staff Report and is the main document that informs our recommendations for land use.

Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (MCEA) and Planning Act Processes and Approvals

JLR is leading the processes and approvals stemming from Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (EA) and Planning Act requirements, which will include statutory public meetings and working group sessions.

Under Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Act, municipalities must consider potential environmental effects before a potential infrastructure project begins. The RWSP will include plans for servicing and roads, all considered infrastructure. The streamlined MCEA process allows municipalities to consider impacts without having to obtain project-specific approval under the Environmental Assessment Act. This study is being conducted in accordance with Phases 1 and 2 of the MCEA process to fulfill the requirements for Schedule B projects.

The implementation of a Secondary Plan is subject to the requirements of the Planning Act. A Secondary Plan is required to permit development of any kind. To implement Secondary Plan, an Official Plan Amendment (OPA) to the City of Clarence-Rockland’s Urban Area Official Plan will need to be adopted by the lower-tier municipality, being the City of Clarence-Rockland’s Council. In accordance with the Planning Act, an Official Plan Amendment will involve public consultation and a statutory public meeting.

A meeting with the RWSP area landowners took place on December 22nd, 2021. A Notice of Commencement was sent two (2) weeks prior. This meeting was used to introduce the RWSP lands and explain the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (EA) and Planning Act processes and approvals. The meeting was also an opportunity for landowners to ask questions about the processes and required approvals. The project team was present to respond to questions and comments.

A second meeting with the RWSP landowners took place on April 7th to present the findings of the Market Study and the project team’s evaluation on the development potential of these lands given the land demand for uses that will support the local economy. Additional input from the public was received.

Background Studies

Since the landowner’s meeting, the project team has been working on background studies, including the market study, environmental report and the existing conditions report, which will identify existing servicing and transportation conditions and options. All this background and existing conditions work is required as a part of Phase 1 of the EA process.

The Market Study, prepared by Shore Tanner and Associates, informs the list of land uses that are being recommended for the Rockland West Secondary Plan (RWSP) lands. The Department is seeking direction from Planning Committee and Council on the proposed land uses to complete Phase 1 of the MCEA Process and proceed with Phase 2, which will include the development and consideration of alternative options for the RWSP Lands.


The purpose of this Staff Report is to bring, at a high level, a list of recommend land uses stemming from the Market Needs Study prepared for the RWSP lands by Shore Tanner & Associates.

There are also policies and other factors that have influenced our land use recommendations for the RWSP lands. These are explained following our summary of the Market Study.

Shore Tanner & Associates Market Study

To determine the desired land uses for the RWSP lands, the RFP for the RWSP required a Market Study to be completed by Shore Tanner & Associates. The purpose of this Market Study was to determine the scope of market demand for retail, office and industrial businesses for the subject lands.

The major findings of the study include:

  • The effects of land prices for industrial lands in Ottawa will only direct businesses to more affordable land options in nearby urban centres, such as the City of Clarence-Rockland, where urban growth will need to be supported by a variety of industries, especially knowledge-based and innovative businesses.
  • Industrial businesses, which are less compatible with sensitive land use and rely on efficient business logistics and transport, are most suitable for the subject lands due to its location at the edge (within) the urban area and its proximity to County Road 17.
  • Many C-R residents still work in Ottawa, due to the range of employment opportunities found there. Subsequently, C-R residents spend a lot of money at Ottawa retailers. By creating more land for employment use (e.g. business park, office, innovation), C-R residents will be encouraged to work and spend in C-R. The addition of “employment uses” will also create more demand for additional retail uses, which is already on the rise as per Shore Tanner’s Market Study. These uses are normally “considered” complementary to business park uses and will not complete with the uses found in the downtown core area.
  • The City of Clarence-Rockland is under-stored for retail and service businesses.

Based on the findings above, Shore Tanner & Associates recommended the following land uses for inclusion in the RWSP lands, in the order of priority:

  • Industrial/Business Park
  • Office Buildings
  • Shopping (Retail/ Commercial)

Shore Tanner & Associates recommend a mix of modern and traditional industries:

  • Modern knowledge-based industries: Information Technology (IT), life sciences, professional services,
  • Land Intensive Light Industrial uses: storage, show rooms, sales display, and storage yards (e.g. construction-related industries).
  • Complementary service commercial uses, such as retail with a focus on locally oriented food, convenience and service businesses, as well as recreation, entertainment and hospitality.

Since the studies reflects a 10 year projection / horizon, Shore Tanner & Associates recommends 100,000 sq.ft of new office space and 150,000 sq.ft of retail (shopping centre) space. The lands are sufficient in size to accommodate both land intensive light industrial use and the amount of office and retail space proposed.

Note: Residential land uses are not being recommended by Shore Tanner & Associates and JLR due to the amount of vacant, undeveloped residential land and the number of development applications already found in the City’s development queue, which includes development (e.g. subdivision) applications pending a Planning Act approval, or building permit.

Planning Analysis

To determine the desired land uses for the RWSP lands, Staff must also consider other factors, stemming from our review of policy, guidelines, on- going environmental assessments, and the environmental background report prepared by Bowfin Consulting in support of the RWSP lands.

Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) 2020

Due to recent policy changes implemented through the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) 2020, upper and lower-tier municipalities must consider planning lands for a 25-year horizon. As such, Staff anticipate that the demand for the land uses recommended in the Market Study will only strengthen beyond the 10-year period, meaning that the Secondary Plan policy should be written to remain flexible and anticipate the long-term needs for these uses, beyond the amount that has been recommended in the Market Study.

The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks Land Use Compatibility D-6 Compatibility Guideline

Ontario’s D-6 compatibility guideline aims to create compatibility between industrial facilities and sensitive land uses. The land uses being recommended by Shore Tanner & Associates are best suited for larger parcels of land that are found on the periphery, within urban areas, and separated from sensitive land use (residential). The development of these lands for industrial and other complementary, less sensitive land uses, will therefore support compatibility between land uses. The addition of “major open space” could help to offset the emissions from light industrial uses and provide better separation between urban blocks.

The Official Plan (OP) of the Urban Area of the City of Clarence Rockland

Map showing the subject lands within the Urban Area and designated “Special Study Area 1”.

Section 8.1.1 of the City’s OP requires the completion of a Secondary Plan prior to any development being approved in the Special Study Area 1.

Through this Secondary Plan, Staff aim to align the land use designations with the land use designations already found in the City’s OP. This approach will ensure consistency in policy approach and language, as a Secondary Plan must conform with the OP.

The following designations from the City’s OP are being considered and recommended for integration through the RWSP:

  • Business Park:

The Business Park designation is intended to attract uses such as light industrial, offices and corporate headquarters. These uses generally prefer visibility from highways and they usually avoid being located near major retail and traditional industrial uses. Uses within business parks are characterized by free standing buildings on individual lots in a planned subdivision setting. Some commercial uses that serve the business park would be desirable as long as they are minor in scale and accessory to the main business park use. Proximity to recreation facilities and open space would also be desirable to serve the employees.

  • Service Commercial

The area designated Service Commercial is intended to serve the needs of the residents of Rockland and the surrounding area. The uses within this area require relatively large parcels of land, large areas of surface parking and access by major roads. To prevent or reduce conflicts the Service Commercial function needs to be located away from residential areas. Where it abuts a residential area, adequate buffers need to be provided and locational criteria described in this Plan need to be satisfied to ensure compatibility.

  • Tourist Recreation Commercial

Certain lands have a potential for recreation-oriented development or tourist development, especially along the river. These lands are indicated on Schedule “A”.

  • Environmental Protection Area – shown on Schedule “A”.
  • Major Open Space

A Major Open Space area has been designated in the Urban Area and is shown on Schedule ‘A’, this being the golf course. This is a significant feature in the Community and should be recognized. Other parks, open spaces, community and recreational facilities are permitted in various land use categories and policies for these uses are included in Section 4.16.

Note: there are several other “Major Open Spaces”. Staff propose to remain consistent with the available land use designations.

Based on the results from the Market Study and the priority being the business park elements, we would ensure that heavy industrial uses are avoided, and the Service Commercial designation is limited to storage, show rooms, sales display, storage yards and similar light industrial uses. Staff also propose to expand the list of service commercial uses to include retail stores, restaurants, food production related commercial spaces, local food stores, offices, personal service businesses, and other small-scale commercial land uses which will support the local economy. Some of the uses identified above were permitted via a “Commercial Designation” through the “Expansion Lands Secondary Plan”, and would still be appropriate for the subject lands.

Of note, the land use designations applied through the Expansion Lands Secondary Plan (Official Plan Amendment No. 13) mostly aligned with the framework for land use designations identified in the City’s OP. The development of policy for the RWSP aims to follow suit.

City of Clarence-Rockland Economic Development Strategy

Staff understand that an Economic Development Strategy is being implemented by the City of Clarence-Rockland and was approved by Council on April 4th, 2022.

Staff have ensured that our land use recommendations for the RWSP align with the overall vision for the City. In particular, through the RWSP, Staff strive to support the continued development of “priority industries”, as identified by the Economic Development Strategy.

The “priority industries”, as shown in Figure 3, are:

  • Hospitality and Tourism, and Retail Trade (High Priority)
  • Professional, Scientific and Technical Services (Medium Priority)
  • Value-Added Agriculture
  • Light Industrial
  • Construction

Clarence-Rockland Table of Priority Economic Drivers

The Economic Development Strategy identifies the “Community Hub District” as the focal point for entrepreneurs, local service commercial, food and convenience, hospitality and entertainment. This Community Hub District is not found on the subject lands.

As such, Staff are not recommending land use designations, such as “Commercial Core” or “Community Facilities”, which encourage these uses and would be better suited for this Community Hub District area. Staff acknowledge that the development of the RWSP lands should not directly compete with this priority. Staff are therefore prioritizing land uses for the RWSP that would not be appropriate for the Community Hub District.

As identified in the City’s Economic Development Strategy, one of the highest priorities is to strengthen the City’s Hospitality industry. While Staff would concede that many of these “hospitality uses” are likely more suited for the Community Hub District area (downtown), as noted above, some of these uses, such as microbreweries, are also complimentary to business park and office uses and should be considered within the proposed land use mix.

The utilization of a modified “Service Commercial” designation for the RWSP lands, for example, will create an opportunity for mix-format retailers and service commercial, such as shopping centres, chain restaurants and grocery stores, that require more land for parking and loading, and cannot necessarily locate their operations downtown or within the “Community Hub District”.

The development of the RWSP for these types of uses is also supported by the Market Study prepared by Shore Tanner & Associates. Currently, there are only a few lands in the City’s Urban Area that are designated “Tourist Recreation Commercial”, as shown previously in Figure 4 below.

Schedule ‘A’ to the Urban Area of the City of Clarence-Rockland

Figure 4: Schedule ‘A’ to the Urban Area of the City of Clarence-Rockland

This is currently the only land use designation that permits the widest range of tourism and hospitality-oriented uses, such as hotels and recreation use. Given the market demand for hospitality uses and the lack of designated land, we recommend that some land be designated “Tourist Recreation Commercial”. We would also note that the City’s OP directs recreational facilities to locate next to business park designations. 

To support both the high priority and medium priority industries, as identified in the City’s Economic Development Strategy and confirmed through the Market Study prepared by Shore Tanner & Associates, we recommend the following land uses:

  • “Business Park”
  • “Service Commercial”
  • “Tourist Recreation Commercial”.

County Road 17 Environmental Assessment Study

The RWSP lands also benefit from their proximity to County Road 17. We understand that an Environmental Assessment Study was carried out in 2016 by UCPR and the City of the Ottawa to evaluate existing conditions and design options, all informed by public consultation.

The status of the construction works will be confirmed with UCPR’s department public works and infrastructure during working group sessions. The RWSP road hierarchy will be formalized through the Secondary Plan process; though, a collector road alignment (connecting already existing city collector with the Country Road 17) is already identified for the site by the City’s OP.

Access to the County Road 17 and alignment with its design, especially the nearest intersection, is considered of upmost importance and will be a priority through the development of the RWSP. The recommended land uses, especially the more land intensive light industrial uses, require immediate access to County Road 17.

Preliminary Findings from Bowfin Environmental Consulting Inc.

To determine the desired land uses, on-site environmental factors must also be considered. Bowfin Environmental Consulting Inc. has done a preliminary desktop review of the natural features of the RWSP lands and has concluded that none of the following natural heritage features are present on the subject lands:

  • provincially significant wetlands
  • unevaluated wetlands
  • coastal wetlands
  • valleylands
  • identified significant wildlife habitat
  • Significant woodlands
  • ANSIs

There are watercourse features found on-site, and subsequently Fish Habitat, which is being recommended to be protected through the determination of an appropriate development setback (between 15-30 metres) through the Secondary Plan process and landscaping interventions that compliment both fish habitat and provide safe passage for other wildlife. There is therefore a potential north-south natural corridor in the heart of the subject lands.

There are also two (2) large cultural thickets / forests found on the subject lands which are opportunities to create a habitat for Endangered or Threatened species, such as the Butternut tree. A protected buffer for these plantings would be required.

Bowfin Environmental Consulting Inc. offers three (3) opportunities for enhancement and recommends considering combining these opportunity areas with more of an Urban Part type landscape and at least one with predominately native species and communities.

Figure 5 shows the enhancement opportunities.

Map of Enhancement Opportunity Areas, Rockland West Secondary Plan lands,

Figure 5: Enhancement Opportunity Areas, Rockland West Secondary Plan lands, prepared by Bowfin Environmental Consulting Inc.

While more study is required through the Secondary Plan, we would recommend that it is appropriate to consider a land use designation that will reflect the preliminary findings from Bowfin Environmental Consulting Inc.

In the framework of the City’s OP, an “Environmental Protection Area” is a land use designation that can be used to protect fish habitat and other natural heritage features.

Since Bowfin has offered three (3) enhancement opportunities and suggests integration with an Urban Park type landscape, we do not anticipate that all features and associated buffers will be designated “environmental protection area”. Some of this land could be designated for “Parks and Open Space” and used to support the road hierarchy. The distinction between protected land and open space will be furthered studied and developed through the development of the Secondary Plan.

Staff would also note that the City’s OP directs open space to locate next to business park designations.

Therefore, address on-site natural heritage features, we recommend the following land use designations for inclusion:

  • “Environmental Protection Area”
  • “Major Open Space ( park?)”

To this end, based on our analysis provided above, Staff recommended that the Rockland West Secondary Plan (RWSP) lands be developed for the following land uses:

  • “Business Park”
  • “Service Commercial”
  • “Tourist Recreation Commercial”.
  • “Environmental Protection Area”
  • “Major Open Space”


To reach step one (1) of the Municipal Class EA process, the City released a notice of commencement and initiated landowners meeting back in December 2021, where preliminary feedback from the landowners was received as detailed above. The results are summarized in Attachment 2.

The City’s website has also been updated to show the progression of the Rockland West Secondary Plan.

The public was notified in advance of this Planning Committee meeting, in accordance with the City’s requirements and procedures. A meeting was held on April 7th, 2022 with the landowners to present the Market Study and provide a project update.

The public will continue to be notified and involved in accordance with the statutory requirements of the Municipal Class EA and Planning Act approvals process for public meetings.

Recommendations or comments from committee/ other departments


Financial impact (expenses/material/etc.)


Legal implications


Risk management


Strategic implications

The City is currently approved an Economic Development Strategy for the whole of the City of Clarence-Rockland. The development of the Rockland West Secondary Plan will align with the vision, priorities and objectives of the Economic Development Strategy through the recommended land uses.

Supporting documents

Attachment 1:   Rockland West Secondary Plan (RWSP) Market Study, prepared by Shore Tanner & Associates.

Attachment 2:   Landowners Comments

Commercial and Industrial Market Demand Study 
The purpose of the Commercial and Industrial Market Demand Study is to determine the scope of market demand for retail, office, and industrial businesses in a new part of Rockland. The Subject Site is approximately 36 hectares (almost 90 acres) in size, adjacent to Rockland’s build up area to the west. The lands are within the Urban Settlement Area under a Special Study designation and a Secondary Plan is currently underway to guide future development of this area.