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Municipal Planning

Intermunicipal Development Plans (IDP)

Intermunicipal development plans outline how municipalities will work together, and address areas of mutual concern. According to section 631 of the Municipal Government Act (as amended by Bill 21 / 2016), municipalities that share a common boundary and are not members of a growth region MUST adopt an IDP. 

An Intermunicipal Development Plan MUST address:

  • the future land use within the area,
  • the manner of and the proposals for future development in the area,
  • the provision of transportation systems for the area, either generally or specifically,
  • the co-ordination of intermunicipal programs relating to the physical, social and economic development of the area,
  • environmental matters within the area, either generally or specifically, and
  • any other matter related to the physical, social or economic development of the area that the councils consider necessary, and

MUST include:

  • a procedure to be used to resolve or attempt to resolve any conflict between the municipalities that have adopted the plan,
  • a procedure to be used, by one or more municipalities, to amend or repeal the plan, and 
  • provisions relating to the administration of the plan. 

For more information on intermunicipal planning and a list of the IDPs that the County. is a party to go to the Intermunicipal Plans page by clicking here.

Municipal Development Plan (MDP)

According to Section 632 of the Municipal Government Act, municipalities with populations over 3500 are required to adopt a municipal development plan (MDP). The MDP is a statutory plan that must address issues such as land use and future growth, relationships with municipal neighbours, and the provision of municipal services. In addition, the MDP may address financing and programming of infrastructure, environmental matters, sustainability, economic development in the municipality and development constraints (physical or policy) that may exist in the municipality. Finally, the MDP must contain policies that are compatible with the subdivision and development regulations to provide guidance on the type and location of land uses adjacent to sour gas facilities. It must describe the requirements for the provision of municipal, school or municipal and school reserves, including but not limited to the need for, amount of and allocation of those reserves and the identification of school requirements in consultation with affected school authorities, and must describe the County's policies respecting the protection of agricultural operations.

In June 2010 the MD of Foothills approved a new MDP 2010 by giving by-law 78/2010 its third and final reading. More information on the MDP2010 can be found by clicking here.

Growth Management Strategy (GMS)

In 2013, Foothills County adopted a Growth Management Strategy (GMS).

Based on the MDP, the GMS provides the strategic context of how and where growth is to be accommodated in the County as a whole, over a long time frame. The Growth Management Strategy  includes topics such as:

  • The establishment of growth expectations, principles and aspirations;
  • An analysis of alternative growth patterns appropriate for different areas within the County, and the costs and benefits of these alternatives;
  • The segregation of the municipality into areas of similar nature and character for the purposes of further long range planning such as Development Concept Plans;
  • Policy on how development and subdivision should proceed to achieve the vision and goals, including the use of transfer of development credits programs and other initiatives that support conservation and stewardship of land.


Area Structure Plans (ASP's) and other Plans in the County:

Area Structure Plans
An Area Structure Plan is a statutory plan, adopted by Bylaw which provides a framework for re-designation, subdivision and development of an area of land. It is like a Municipal Development Plan in that it is a statutory plan and it is fairly general, however, the purpose of an ASP is to provide a framework for subdivision and development of a specific area of land within a municipality ranging from a few acres, to several sections in size.

According to section 633 of the Municipal Government Act an area structure plan MUST describe:
(i) the sequence of development proposed for the area,
(ii) the land uses proposed for the area, either generally or with respect to specific parts of the area,
(iii) the density of population proposed for the area either generally or with respect to specific parts of the area, and
(iv) the general location of major transportation routes and public utilities,

For an alphabetical list of approved ASPs click here.

Development Concept Plans (DCP)
DCPs address the planning for large scale areas which are defined by similar landform and character. While the focus of the DCP is to address planning to accommodate future growth, the DCP may instead be used to establish a landscape of conservation for the purposes of maintaining its natural capital. The DCP addresses the needs of the area for which it plans, and as such, the contents of the plan must be designed specifically for each individual area. The intent is to provide reasonably broad direction and the appropriate level of detail dependant on the intensity of the development envisioned within the specific area.

For an alphabetical list of approved DCPs click here.

Outline Plans and Area Concept Plans
Outline Plans and Area Concept Plans are non-statutory plans that are used as a guideline for the subsequent re-designation, subdivision and development of an area of land.
It is a conceptual scheme that provides a much greater level of detail in terms of the actual subdivision design, site specific technical analysis and details how the proposal is in keeping with the overall municipal goals for development. Outline plans are intended to be completed after the adoption of an ASP, but not in all cases. Outline Plans are undertaken by the developer and can be done concurrently with an application for re-designation and/or subdivision. Outline plans are used to fully inform Council and the public of the proposed development, and may contain the following items:

  • The proposed phasing of the development;
  • Identifies servicing and access details for the development;
  • Outline of what the defined built environment will look like including lot configuration, parcel sizes, road widths and access locations, all land uses and housing types and styles, architectural controls and other development restrictions, technical studies and other detailed information to fully visualize the proposal.

For an alphabetical list of Outline Plans and Area Concept Plans click here.

Area Re-development Plans
ARP's are similar to ASP, except that ARP is used to facilitate the "redevelopment" of an area that is already developed. The ARP provides policy direction regarding the removal, reconstruction and/or preservation of an area and buildings and provides for improvements of infrastructure.

For an alphabetical list of Area Re-development Plans click here.

The Land Use Bylaw

The land use bylaw is the regulatory tool that enables a municipality to carry out its statutory plans. The major purpose of the land use bylaw is to regulate and control the use and development of land and buildings.

According to Section 639 of the Municipal Government Act every municipality must pass a land use bylaw. The land use bylaw:

(a) must divide the municipality into districts of the number and area the council considers appropriate;

(b) must, unless the district is designated as a direct control district pursuant to section 641, prescribe with respect to each district,

(i) the one or more uses of land or buildings that are permitted in the district, with or without conditions, or
(ii) the one or more uses of land or buildings that may be permitted in the district at the discretion of the development authority, with or without conditions, or both;

(c) must establish a method of making decisions on applications for development permits and issuing development permits for any development, including provision for
(i) the types of development permit that may be issued,
(ii) applying for a development permit,
(iii) processing an application for, or issuing, cancelling, suspending or refusing to issue, a development permit,
(iv) the conditions that are to be attached, or that the development authority may attach, to a development permit, either generally or with respect to a specific type of permit,
(v) how long any type of development permit remains in effect,
(vi) the discretion that the development authority may exercise with respect to development permits, and
(vii) any other matters necessary to regulate and control the issue of development permits that to the council appear necessary;

(d) must provide for how and to whom notice of the issuance of a development permit is to be given;

(e) must establish the number of dwelling units permitted on a parcel of land.

In addition to these required items, a land use bylaw may address subdivision design standards; the particulars of buildings that may be constructed, development setbacks, landscaping requirements, parking and loading requirements, building design guidelines, lighting and signage and other items pertaining to the development of land.

The  County's Land Use Bylaw No. 60/2014 was adopted by Council on December 17, 2014 and became effective on that date. This bylaw is subject to change by Council and is amended regularly. The Land Use Bylaw can be found in the Resource Library.

Land Use Bylaw Page - link

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