Getting started with land use planning
How do we use Alberta’s land and resources now and in the future? How do we make the best decisions for long-term respect for Alberta’s environmental, economic and social wellbeing?
These are the complex questions that are at the foundation of land use planning. In Alberta, land use planning is guided by the Land-use Framework, the Alberta Land Stewardship Act and seven regional plans.Alberta’s Land-use Framework contains seven strategies to manage public and private land and natural resources. It is considered a blueprint for land use management and policies.
The Alberta Land Stewardship Act sets out the legislation for implementing the strategies and meeting the goals from the Land-use Framework.
One of those strategies is developing regional plans for seven regions in the province that define the strategic direction for the next 10 years. Two regional plans (for the Lower Athabasca and South Saskatchewan regions) are completed.
What is land use planning?
Alberta is a growing province where industrial and municipal development, recreation, agricultural production, and conservation compete on the same landscape. Smart choices must be made about how the province grows and how land is used in order to maintain all of our advantages – natural resources, plentiful jobs and a beautiful and diverse landscape.
Regional planning in Alberta is built on the foundation to balance development and create a framework for future land-use decision while encouraging stewardship, conservation and information sharing about the cumulative effects of multiple uses on the land. Regional planning provides the basis for policy integration while increasing direction and clarity to guide land-use decision-makers while collectively working towards the values set out by Albertans.
Regional planning will not replace local decision-making, but helps to ensure that there is alignment on strategic issues and plans, recognizing that there is a limited capacity of airsheds, watersheds and land disturbances which cross multiple jurisdictional boundaries.
History of land use planning in Alberta
Determining the best use of land and resources is a complex decision that has been guided by regulations and policies since the early 20th century in Alberta. The current strategies and regulations are based on a new approach started in 2008.
The province is divided into seven regions, based on major watersheds. Here is the status of the seven regional plans:
- Lower Athabasca: Approved
- South Saskatchewan: Approved
- North Saskatchewan: In development
- Lower Peace: Not started
- Red Deer: Not started
- Upper Athabasca: Not started
- Upper Peace: Not started
Implementing Alberta’s regional plans
The responsibility for land use planning and decision making remains the municipalities. They have the authority to make decisions, but they also have to ensure plans and decisions are in line with regional plans. To ensure local decisions are consistent with regional plans, municipalities must:
- Prepare context statements outlining how their municipal development plans will align with and address provincial directions stated in regional plans.
- Amend municipal planning documents to adopt and align with regional planning directions.
Search for articles, resources and news on Alberta’s regional plans and land use planning topics.
Explore the planner resources
The Land-use Framework Region Explorer is an interactive tool to explore the status and profile of Alberta’s seven regions.