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Municipal and Local Planning


Regional plans take the municipal planning concept to a wider geographic area, so that planning responds to local needs and interests and also to regional and provincial ones. Regional plans will include all land in Alberta, just like municipal plans have an effect on all land in a municipality. The content of each plan will vary depending on the geography, current activity, needs and challenges in the region. Regional plans will be public policy and take effect through processes allowed by the law. 

Municipal Government Act (2010)


The Municipal Government Act (MGA) establishes the authority for municipal planning, subdivision and development control and more. MGA is associated with many Regulations.

Alberta Subdivision and Development Regulation (AR 43/2002)


Provides for the administration of subdivision applications, subdivision and development conditions, registration and endorsements of subdivision and setbacks for provincial appeals. A new version will be available November 2012.


Legislative Framework for Regional and Municipal Planning, Subdivision and Development Control (2012)


Discusses the legislated regional and municipal planning framework, outlines the legislated steps in the subdivision and development control process, and notes the statutory exemptions and limitations to municipal planning authority.

Government of Alberta Municipal Affairs Information Bulletin 03/12 (August 2012)


Distributed to the municipalities, this Bulletin discusses the implications of the approval of LARP for municipalities in the Lower Athabasca Region. Refer to the Newsroom for news releases and Information Bulletins issued by Municipal Affairs. Refer to the Municipal Resource Handbook for detailed bulletins. 


Contributing to Regional Planning


The Land-use Framework recognizes that municipalities play a major role in regional plans. Municipalities contribute to regional planning through public and stakeholder consultation sessions as well as through a municipal consultation process which is unique to each region. The results of consultation, summarized in stakeholder consultation reports, inform the Regional Advisory Council and the Government of Alberta, which will draft the regional plan.


A Regional Advisory Council is composed of a cross-section of individuals that are able to strategically consider what is best for the entire region at a holistic level. The Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties and the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association will both have opportunities to nominate representatives for each Regional Advisory Council.



Municipal Obligations Upon Approval of a Regional Plan


On August 22, 2012, the Government of Alberta approved and released the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan (LARP). LARP came into effect on September 1, 2012, the first regional plan to be adopted under the province's Land-use Framework. The LARP does not change the municipal planning process for municipalities in the Lower Athabasca Region. The MGA provides the legislative authority for municipalities to make land-use planning and development decisions within their municipal boundaries.


The relationship between a municipality and an ALSA regional plan is established in both the MGA and the Alberta Land Stewardship Act. The LARP also provides direction on how the plan applies to municipalities within the Lower Athabasca Region. There are three ways in which a municipality is obligated to ensure it is acting in accordance with a regional plan:


  1. Municipal planning authorities are required to carry out their functions in accordance with any applicable ALSA regional plan.
  2. The municipal council is required to review its plans and bylaws, and make amendments as necessary to comply with the regional plan.
  3. After the review is complete, the municipality will submit the statutory declaration affirming this it is in compliance with the ALSA regional plan.


The LARP specifies that local government bodies will have five years from the plan coming into effect to submit the statutory declaration to the Land Use Secretariat. The LARP provides a detailed description of how it will apply to municipalities in the Lower Athabasca Region in Sections 3 to 7 of Part 1 of the plan.


- Excerpts from Municipal Affairs' Legislative Framework for Regional and Municipal Planning, Subdivision and Development Control (Updated August 2012) -


Application of a Regional Plan


All development must comply with the ALSA regional plans, the MGA, the Subdivision and Development Regulation, and the land-use bylaw. Most development will require a development permit. In some cases, statutory plans and land-use bylaws must be amended, or subdivision applications approved, before a development permit can be issued.


- Excerpts from Municipal Affairs' Legislative Framework for Regional and Municipal Planning, Subdivision and Development Control (Updated August 2012) -


Using LARP as an example, Section 7 of the Regulatory Details Plan requires a municipal council to consider the Strategic Plan and the Implementation Plan in the LARP when carrying out any function in respect of the council's powers, duties and responsibilities, which means that a municipal council will need to keep the LARP policies and directions as well as information such as ambient air quality triggers and limits for the area in mind when making decisions or acting on any matter that falls within the jurisdiction of the municipality.


In the Lower Athabasca Region, the LARP will replace the Provincial Land Use Policies developed pursuant to section 622 of the MGA. However, all other municipalities in the province will continue to use the Provincial Land Use Policies to guide land-use planning and development decisions until regional plans are developed in their regions and are approved by the provincial government. 



Non-Compliance with a Regional Plan


If a complaint for non-compliance is filed with the Land Use Secretariat and if the Secretariat is satisfied that there is clearly a non-compliance issue with the regional plan, it may refer the matter to a designated Minister, a government department and/or a local government body. If, after investigation, a municipality is found to be non-compliant with the regional plan and the matter is referred to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, the Minister may take any number of actions as set out in Section 570.01 of the MGA, including: suspending the bylaw-making power of the municipal authority; making bylaws for the municipality on any matters; withholding money that is payable from the Government of Alberta to the municipality; or exercising other lawful authority.   


- Excerpts from Government of Alberta Municipal Affairs Information Bulletin 03/12 (August 2012) -