Planning and land use data

Waterloo is home to a young and growing population. Planning for this involves tracking growth trends and information.

Use this page to find out more about population and land use trends. You can also download a data set that's updated annually.


On this page

  1. Population
  2. Residential development
  3. Non-residential development
  4. Download data set

Population

The City of Waterloo is located in the Region of Waterloo. The region is the 4th largest urban centre in Ontario and the 10th largest in Canada.

At the end of 2020:

  • the estimated population of Waterloo was 147,350
  • this includes 30,820 students and 116,530 permanent residents

This is based on data from the 2016 Census and includes adjustments for new homes and apartments, students and temporary residents, census undercount and vacancy rates.

Growth rate

Along with the rest of southern Ontario, the City of Waterloo's population growth rate is among the fastest in Canada. In recent years the city has grown faster than the regional and provincial average.

From 2015 to 2020:

  • the City of Waterloo's grew 10.2%. 
  • the Region of Waterloo grew 8.6%
  • the Province of Ontario grew 6.4%.

Projections by 2041

Based on projections from the 2016 Census, there will be 140,500 permanent residents living in Waterloo by 2041. This does not include students. 

This estimate will be revised after we receive results of the 2021 Census.


Residential development

We track the amount and type of residential development taking place across the city. Residential development is the construction of places for people to live.

Density

Residential development can be categorized based on how many people can live in a unit. This measure is called density.

Buildings such as detached homes and townhouses have low numbers of units while apartment- style 'multi-residential' buildings have many more. The more units in a building the greater the density. 

Since 2018, the share of higher density types of housing has gradually increased.

Density of development% low density% multi-unit201820192020050100
Year% low density% multi-unit
2018 25 75
2019 18 82
2020 13 87
2021 15 85
% multi-unit

Units built per year

The amount of residential development can be measured by the number of:

  • units - such as a house or condo
  • bedrooms - places to sleep inside a unit

A detached home with 3 bedrooms would count as 1 unit and 3 bedrooms, for example.

Since 2015, new units have gradually increased while the number of overall bedrooms has decreased. This is due to increasing construction of multi-unit buildings with a lower number of bedrooms per unit.

Number of new units and bedroomsUnitsBedrooms20152016201720182019202002,0004,0006,000
YearUnitsBedrooms
2015 295 3,214
2016 428 4,168
2017 1,175 1,981
2018 594 1,199
2019 1,141 1,593
2020 1,181 2,051
2021 1,249 1,876
Bedrooms

Building locations

Land where new units are built is put into two categories:

  • built-up areas - where development has historically occurred, such as uptown and older neighbourhoods
  • designated greenfield areas - previously undeveloped land

As the supply of greenfield becomes limited, provincial and city policy has focused on  ‘intensification’ in built-up areas. From 2006 to 2020 the percentage of units constructed in built-up areas has gradually increased.

Residential development locations% units in greenfields% units in built-up areas2006200720082009201020112012201320142015201620172018201920200204060801002011% units in built-up areas:72
Year% units in greenfields% units in built-up areas
2006 32 68
2007 42 58
2008 27 73
2009 32 68
2010 7 93
2011 28 72
2012 18 82
2013 25 75
2014 17 83
2015 27 73
2016 20 80
2017 33 67
2018 34 66
2019 10 90
2020 8 92
2021 14 86
72

Non-residential development

Non-residential development refers to the construction of places such as offices, stores, factories, university buildings and other places where people do not live.

Square footage built per year

Non residential development is categorized by:

  • industrial - such as factories
  • commercial - such as retail stores
  • institutional - such as religious buildings

Type of non-residential development (square feet)InstitutionalCommercialIndustrial2009201020112012201320142015201620172018201920200200,000400,000600,000800,000
YearInstitutionalCommercialIndustrial
2009 171,558 166,530 339,896
2010 662,887 315,327 585,428
2011 136,304 93,766 53,281
2012 281,079 49,894 239,246
2013 289,826 28,672 19,902
2014 63,976 23,766 25,143
2015 213,868 94,209 56,040
2016 209,180 167,198 5,833
2017 419,956 19,517 181,330
2018 112,713 85,874 2,852
2019 40,666 15,563 393,313
2020 60,154 41,147 9,442
2021 29,939 20,545 312
Industrial

Download data set

The city's planning division updates population and land use data annually. 

It was last updated at the end of 2021 and is currently in Excel spreadsheet format. Some data for 2021 has yet to be released and is marked as such. It will be updated when available. 

Download data set

Data use disclaimer

This collection of data is intended to provide general information, and reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the data are correct.

When addressing a specific issue or question, data should be verified with technical experts in the appropriate field.

The City of Waterloo does not accept responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the data set, and shall not be liable for any loss or damage associated with the direct or indirect use of, or reliance on, the contents this collection of planning and land use data.

For more information contact torin.whitnell@waterloo.ca.