Strong Employment Lands, Strong Communities: An Evaluative Framework and Comparative Case Study of the Region of Niagara's Gateway Employment Lands Study (2011) and the Region of Waterloo's Industrial Business Park Vacant Land Inventory and Demand Analysis (2006)
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Employment lands studies provide the backbone by which information is disseminated to local politicians, councils, decision makers, and citizens (Dempwolf, 2012). Without these studies and strategies, an inherent lack in informed decisions made regarding the present and future use of employment lands within a community would be the norm (Dempwolf, 2012). The purpose of this project is to provide a better understanding of the components of a good employment lands plan through the development and application of an employment lands evaluation framework and toolkit. A framework for analysis and toolkit for evaluation was developed based on four categories in order to answer the overarching research question of what good planning in an employment lands context looks like. The categories for analysis in this project were plan quality, employment lands- specific plan quality, industrial site selection, and economic development and competitiveness. Each of the categories contained a variety of sub-questions for scoring and evaluation. Content analysis was conducted on two employment lands plans selected based on a pre-determined criteria, and scores between 0 and 2 were assigned for each sub-question. After the analysis was conducted, the Region of Waterloos plan scored 61% and the Region of Niagara’s plan scored 66%. Overall, the findings of this report suggest that the cutting edge employment lands research published to date can be applied within the Canadian context; however, further adjustments may be warranted. Ultimately, the toolkit developed for this study can be used by scholars and planning practitioners into the future to ensure employment lands plans of the highest quality are produced.