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Legislative Framework - Planning Hierarchy

The Municipal Government Act (MGA) establishes the planning context in which Municipal Governments implement many of the planning processes in Alberta.  In the planning hierarchy below, plans, bylaws and approvals that are lower must be consistent with plans that are higher, as illustrated.

Regional Plans:  Seven Regional Plans are being prepared under the provincial Land-use Framework.  The Alberta Land Stewardship Act establishes the legal basis for the development of Regional Plans under the Land Use Framework.  Thorhild County sits within the one of these being the North Saskatchewan Regional Plan.

Alberta Land Stewardship Act (ALSA) and the Municipal Government Act (MGA):
ALSA is a high level document that sets the land use direction for the province and the MGA is an operational document that provides municipalities with functional direction.

Statutory Plans include: Intermunicipal Development Plans, Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework(s), Municipal Development Plans, Area Structure Plans, and Area Redevelopment Plans.  Subdivision and development decisions are required to be consistent with any approved statutory plan.  Listed below are the statutory plans as they appear in the MGA from general to specific: 

Intermunicipal Development Plan (IDP) Two or more municipalities have the option to develop and adopt an IDP for areas within their boundaries.  The plan should provide for future land use within the identified IDP area and is required to identify a procedure to resolve conflicts, to deal with amendments or repeals, and to administer the plan.  The Minister may require municipal authorities to establish an IDP. 

Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework (ICF) Frameworks specify what and how services are funded and delivered with other municipalities that share a common boundary.

Municipal Development Plan (MDP) addresses future land use and development within the municipality and coordinates land use, future growth patterns, transportation systems, municipal services and facilities within the municipality as well as other infrastructure that relates to adjacent municipalities.  This must also contain policies compatible with the subdivision and development regulations, provision of municipal and school reserves and the protection of agricultural operations.

Area Structure Plan (ASP) A municipal council has the option to adopt an ASP to provide a framework for developing a specific area within the municipality.  Unlike other statutory plans, an ASP is generally prepared by a developer and not necessarily initiated by the municipality.  An ASP must describe the proposed development sequence, proposed land uses for the area, proposed population density of the area, and the general location of major transportation routes and public utilities. 

Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP) A municipal council has the option to develop an ARP for a designated area of the municipality to preserve land and buildings, to rehabilitate, remove or construct buildings, to improve roads, to generally facilitate development in the area, and for collection of redevelopment levies.  An ARP includes the objectives of the plan, the proposed land uses, the reasons for any redevelopment levies to be proposed as part of the plan, and any proposals for acquiring land for municipal uses, schools, parks and recreation. 

Land Use Bylaw (LUB) Under the MGA, all municipalities are required to adopt a land use bylaw.  The land use bylaw divides the municipality into districts, prescribes the uses of land and establishes development standards for each district, and provides for a system for issuing development permits. 

Development Permit  A document permitting a specific development and  may include conditions imposed to ensure that the development complies with the current Land Use Bylaw.


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