Downtown Study

The Downtown Study aimed to analyze Milton's downtown and identify opportunities for redevelopment and revitalization. The study provided the foundation by which cultural and economic activity can flourish in the core of the community.  

Zoning By-law and Official Plan Amendments

PROPOSAL:  The purpose of the applications initiated by the Town of Milton was to bring forward new Zoning By-law designations and Local Official Plan Policies within the Milton Downtown. The proposed policy changes brought forward a more flexible policy framework. These changes were brought forward in accordance with the Town of Milton Downtown Study that was endorsed by Council in January of 2017.

On September 25, 2017, Town of Milton Council passed By-law No. 094-2017, which adopted Official Plan Amendment No. 46 and By-law No. 095-2017, which adopted changes to the Zoning By-law under Sections 17(23) and 34 of the Planning Act. Given no appeals were received, the by-laws are now in full force and effect.

Recommendation Report

Further to the Public Meeting held on April 24, 2017; a report regarding the above-noted application was considered by the Town Council on September 11, 2017.

Statutory Public Meeting

A statutory public meeting was held on April 24, 2017.

Additional Public Information Session and Workshop

An additional public information session and workshop was held on April 12, 2017.

Downtown Study Final Report

On January 9, 2017 Milton Council endorsed the Downtown Study Final Report. This report sets the stage for important changes that will help to secure a vibrant future for downtown Milton.

Appendices to the Final Downtown Study Report

Open house

An open house was held on February 2, 2017 to hear about the next steps and timeline for action items, including Zoning and Official Plan Amendments, Urban Design Guidelines, Heritage Character Area Study, Parking Study and Town-owned Lands Business Case.

3D concepts, videos and illustrations

A public open house was held on September 22, 2016. 

View the presentation with 3D concepts, video walk-through and sketches that show potential changes to land use policies:

The following concepts illustrate how a high-opportunity, Town-owned property (Main & Brown Street) could be redeveloped in the future. The concepts identify the capacity of built form that could be accommodated within the Town-owned Opportunity Lands and take into account compatibility considerations such as height, location and context.

 Downtown Study Indicative Concept - Ceremonial Square

 Ceremonial Square - 3D

Walk through video:
Ceremonial Square


Ceremonial Square - Legend for 3D model

 Downtown Study Indicative Concept - Civic Square

 Civic Centre - 3D

Walk through video:
Civic Square


Civic Centre - Legend for 3D Model 


 Downtown Study Indicative Concept - Community Plaza

 Community Plaza - 3D

Walk through video:
Community Plaza

Community Plaza - Legend for 3D Model 



Study Areas

For the purpose of this study, Downtown Milton has been divided into two areas:

1. Primary Area

The Primary Area (outlined in red in the map below) is consistent with the boundary of the Historic Downtown Core which is comprised of a significant portion of Town-owned lands (Civic Precinct).

This area will be the study's first priority in order to provide a strong civic base for Downtown revitalization to move forward.

2. Secondary Area

The Secondary Area (outlined in yellow in the map below) is the greater area surrounding the historic downtown core, also known as the Character Area.

High opportunity areas have been identified within the historic downtown core as well as other areas that could potentially support redevelopment. These areas have been identified based on context, location and redevelopment constraints (for example, heritage significance and floodplain boundary). 

Downtown Study Primary and Secondary Areas

What makes a healthy downtown?

1. Civic rresence as an anchor in the downtown  

Town Hall is a key asset for Downtown revitalization. Redevelopment of Town-owned lands in the Downtown (Civic Precinct) will act as a catalyst for other development. The Town has the opportunity to expand a civic presence beyond Town Hall by carefully considering redevelopment options of Town-owned lands. Of the 4.2 acres of high opportunity areas, the Town owns 2.76 acres, or approximately 65% of the land base. 

2. Build on existing heritage 

Protecting and enhancing the Downtown is essential in also protecting the identify of Milton as it grows. The Downtown needs to be a place where all residents - not just those in the surrounding area - can appreciate and feel connected to Milton's history. 

3. Vibrant, engaging public realm 

A diverse range of uses will contribute to a distinct sense of identity, vibrancy and economic viability. An engaging public realm has intangible benefits to the community since it creates an environment that invites people throughout all times of day.

Achieving the appropriate uses in optimal locations will be critical. Commercial functions of a downtown core are distinctly different from commercial nodes in other areas of a community. It is important to encourage development while mindfully preserving the identity of the downtown core.

4. Pedestrian friendly, interactive spaces 

Pedestrian friendly streetscapes and human-scaled built form can help the downtown feel safe and engaged. Historically, downtowns have been developed to cater to pedestrians and that function needs to be encouraged to allow for an interactive community and ensure that cars do not dictate how space within the Downtown is used. 

5. Gathering place for the entire community

The Downtown as a civic gathering space, which could include a public square, would it to better connect to the larger community, acting as both the physical and symbolic heart of the community. The Downtown would be seen as a destination for a variety of year-round activities. 

How do we get there?

Project timeline

The following actions will take place over the long-term in order to facilitate any changes identified through the study:

  1. Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendments introducing the changes required to support the types of redevelopment and enhancements that are identified through the study process.
  2. Review the Secondary Area and address issues arising from growth pressures within the broader Character Area. These issues include confirmation of the boundaries of the character area, identification of the heritage assets and consideration of preservation methods to protect and enhance those assets as appropriate.
  3. Design Guidelines are expected to be established that will help shape future development opportunities and examine potential improvements for the public realm. 

Town's role 

The Town will take a leadership role in encouraging development by implementing a vision for Downtown Milton and supporting appropriate forms of redevelopment and investment in the downtown that are more attractive for developers.

This approach is consistent with the actions identified in Destiny Milton 3, specifically to develop a comprehensive policy and operational framework to support the revitalization and sustainability of the Downtown as a focal point for the community.


Market analysis

A market analysis of Milton's downtown was completed to determine the types of growth that can be accommodated. It provides key market information regarding vacancy rates, turnover rates and a suitable range of uses to create a sustainably and vibrant downtown.

The market analysis identified realistic opportunities for downtown redevelopment and revitalization, and suggested how the Town can bring these opportunities to fruition through policy changes, partnerships and redevelopment of Town-owned lands.


Milton has experienced significant growth pressures as a result of provincial planning policy directions, such as the "Places to Grow" and the Provincial Policy Statement, which require intensification. The study needed to:

  • Identify how much intensification can be feasibly accommodated within the Downtown.
  • The compatibility of any intensification with the elements of the Downtown which are historically important and valued by the community including specific landmarks and heritage buildings, the overall historic character and views to the Niagara Escarpment.


An important part of the study was to identify the properties having potential heritage interest, some of which contain designated heritage buildings.  

Due to their heritage attributes, these properties are valued and should be regarded as assets to be protected as the downtown evolves.  As such, at least on a preliminary basis, these lands were not identified for redevelopment.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q: How is the Town addressing the fact that much of the downtown is in the floodplain?

A: We recognize the floodplain as a constraint and we are consulting with Conservation Halton regarding changes in use. This study will not consider a revision to the floodplain boundary, and we will not be suggesting new built form within the floodplain.

Q: Will offices be allowed on Main Street?

A: We are looking to foster a vibrant downtown with long-term economic viability; in support of this, we are looking to develop enabling policies that support interactive, "drop-in," business-to-customer offices (e.g. realtors, travel agents, banks and government offices), rather than proposing traditional office on Main Street.

Q: Are the concepts presented at the open house going to be final?

A: These concepts are not final, and are merely concept drawings to help illustrate how specific uses and densities could look in certain locations. There will be more public consultation when specific applications for these sites are proposed.

Q: What are future plans for parking in the downtown?

A: There is currently a Downtown Milton Parking Study underway that will conclude in early 2017. This will guide decisions and recommendations regarding parking options.

Q: What are next steps in this study? When will redevelopment occur?  

  • A staff report on the Downtown Study will be taken to Council in late 2016.
  • Necessary Zoning By-law and Official Plan Amendments will begin in early 2017.
  • Once these are completed, we will begin to build a business case based on recommendations from the public and Council direction.
  • Once the business case has been established and future Capital Budgets have been approved, redevelopment can proceed.
Staff Reports


Planning Policy
Planning & Development Department
905-878-7252, ext. 2398
Fax: 905-876-5024