The ABC's of Land Use Planning and Development

Planning and Development

Council shapes the physical future of the community through its authority over land-use planning and development control. As a councillor, you must focus on the future of the community as a whole while balancing the current rights, needs and concerns of property owners and residents. A number of tools are available to council for this purpose.

Alberta Land Stewardship Act (ALSA) Regional Plan
If an ALSA regional plan is approved or amended municipalities with in applicable ALSA regional plan, are required to review their regulatory instruments, such as but not limited to, existing statutory plans, land-use bylaws, policies and procedures, an make any amendments to comply with the ALSA regional plan. After the review, municipalities are required to file a statutory declaration with the Land Use Secretariat advising the review is complete and the municipality is in compliance with the regional plan.

See section 630.2 & 638.1 Municipal Government Act; ALSA s 20-22

Municipal Development Plan
A municipality with a population of 3,500 or more must adopt a Municipal Development Plan (MDP). The MDP provides a general framework for development within the municipality and is the official statement of your municipality's policies concerning the desired future pattern of development. The municipality must afford opportunity to affected persons as well as neighbouring municipalities to review and make comment on the plan. Inter municipal issues such as coordination of land use and infrastructure must be addressed in the municipality's own municipal development plan or two or more municipalities may adopt an inter-municipal development plan.

See section 632 & 636 Municipal Government Act;

Intermunicipal Development Plan:
Two or more municipalities may adopt an inter-municipal plan to address issues of mutual concern with respect to designated lands. The plan may provide for the future use of land, manner and proposals for development or other matters relating to the area the councils consider necessary. The plan must include a procedure to resolve or attempt to resolve conflicts, a procedure to amend or repeal the plan, and provisions relating to plan administration.

See section 631 & 636 Municipal Government Act;

Area Structure Plans and Redevelopment Plans:
Council may, by bylaw, adopt an area structure plan to provide a framework for subdivision and development for a particular area. The area structure plan will generally describe the sequences of development, proposed land use, population density, and the location of major transportation routes and public utilities.

When an area is undergoing redevelopment, the council may adopt an area redevelopment plan which, in addition to providing guidelines, may result in a redevelopment levy being used to acquire land for park, school, or recreation purposes in the redevelopment area.

See section 633 - 636 Municipal Government Act;

Land Use Bylaws:
All municipalities must have a land use bylaw. This bylaw provides a specific means of implementing the policies that are expressed in a general way in the MDP. If a council wishes to adopt a direct control district in the land use bylaw, council must also adopt a municipal development plan. The bylaw provides for a system of development permits and divides the municipality into land use districts prescribing permitted and discretionary uses for land, buildings, and development standards. Council must establish by bylaw a development authority to administer the development approval process. Generally, when an application conforms to the provisions of the bylaw, a development permit is issued. When an application is refused or when the neighbours are concerned over a proposed development approval, there may be an appeal to the subdivision and development appeal board.

See section 639, 640, 642, 685, & 686 Municipal Government Act;

Dividing a piece of land into two or more parcels generally requires approval from a subdivision authority. The authority ensures that the land to be subdivided is appropriate for its proposed use. Council must establish the subdivision authority by bylaw and may choose to be the authority itself or to delegate this function. Decisions can be appealed to the subdivision and development appeal board. or in certain situations to the Municipal Government Board.

See section 623, 652, 654, & 678 Municipal Government Act;

Subdivision and Development Appeal Board:
A municipal council is required to establish a subdivision and development appeal board to act as a quasi-judicial body to deal with subdivision and development appeals. Appeals are usually made by the applicant for a subdivision approval or a development permit, or by persons affected by the development authority's decision. The board must hold a public hearing to deal with an appeal. A council cannot form the majority of membership on these boards.

See section 627, 678, & 686 Municipal Government Act;

Subdivision or Development Agreements
Prior to a subdivision or development having full approval, your municipality may require a developer to enter into a subdivision agreement. These agreements ensure that certain conditions of the proposed development are documented and met. After legal consultation, administration will bring the agreement forward to council for acceptance, after which the final application can be given final approval.

See section 650 & 656 Municipal Government Act;