The first step in the Downtown Master Plan Process was the preparation of a Terms of Reference. A Terms of Reference is intended to specify the requirements, expectations, methodology and products which will be necessary for the recommendation of a final Downtown Master Plan, Downtown Heritage Conservation District Plan and Downtown Design Guidelines to City Council for approval. The Terms of Reference were reviewed through a public consultation process prior to their adoption by Municipal Council on February 2, 2009.
Following completion of the Terms of Reference and a Background Study was prepared which provided the policy, statistical and analytical basis for the future Downtown Master Plan, Downtown Heritage Conservation District Plan and Downtown Design Guidelines.
The Background Study (adopted by Council July 19, 2010) summarizes past efforts and identifies components of the Downtown which have been studied and are being addressed at the present time. Those issues which have not been addressed are also identified. Where applicable, any Council resolutions were also identified.
All of this background material established the current conditions in the Downtown and served as a basis for the preparation of the Downtown Master Plan, Downtown Heritage Conservation District Plan and Downtown Urban Design Guidelines. If a need for new Official Plan policies is identified, an Official Plan amendment will also be prepared.
A component of the Background Study process was to identify a long term vision for Downtown. A number of past studies have done this but the intent was to revisit that vision to ensure it is current. A community survey/questionnaire and workshops were tools used to foster additional community input to identify that vision. The Downtown Vision was adopted by Council November 5, 2010. The final Downtown Vision will provide guidance for the preparation of the Downtown Master Plan.
A draft report entitled New Ideas, Options and Implementation (Council directed it be circulated for public review on July 19, 2010) was prepared which identifies previous recommendations which have not been implemented and new issues and new ideas being tried in other municipalities to revitalize their Downtown. The document is intended to generate discussion and identify new ideas. The report also includes an analysis of the issues, a draft recommendation and a possible strategy to implement the draft recommendation. The final recommendation and Downtown vision will provide guidance for the preparation of the Downtown Master Plan.
At the same time, the Downtown Heritage Conservation District Background Study and Plan were also being prepared. The Downtown Heritage Conservation District Background Study was adopted by Council February 28, 2011. The Downtown HCD Plan went to a Public Meeting on March 26, 2012 and Council adopted the Plan and By-law on April 10, 2012. The Downtown HCD Plan needed to be completed first to establish the heritage elements in the Downtown that should be retained so that areas of possible redevelopment can be identified. For further information, follow the link for the Downtown Heritage Conservation District webpage.
Work is continuing on the preparation of the Downtown Master Plan, the Downtown Urban Structure Plan and Downtown Design Guidelines. It is also important to note that there are many other projects and studies currently being undertaken which could impact on the Downtown. These include studies such as the 2030 Transportation Study "Smart Moves, " Downtown Parking Review, Downtown Development Corporation Review, and the Reforest London Tree Planting Strategy.