About Planning and Development

About Planning and Development

Planning and Development (P&D) plays a central role in the change and development of our community by establishing and administering the Municipal District of Peace No. 135’s land use planning framework. P&D aims to ensure orderly, economical and beneficial development, and to maintain and improve the quality of the MD’s physical environment through the application of tools and services under the land use planning framework. The scope of P&D services include:

Land Use and Sustainability Planning

Land Use and Sustainability Planning involves the creation and administration of long-term, community vision plans, such as statutory plans (e.g., Municipal Development Plan, Intermunicipal Development Plans and Area Structure Plans), and the Land Use Bylaw, which together provide direction and the regulatory mechanism for implementing the desired change.

Development Permitting and Subdivision Planning

This includes processing and issuing decisions on development permit and subdivision applications, based on approved plans, the Land Use Bylaw, and other applicable municipal and provincial legislation.

Development Control

Development Control involves the use of tools such as Development Agreements, inspections and Land Use Bylaw enforcement mechanisms to achieve desirable development outcomes.

Special Projects

Examples of special projects undertaken through P&D include park design and special studies (e.g., Gravel Pit Study, Shaftesbury Trail Study).

Other services

These are services provided to the public for a fee outside the core P&D services (e.g., Compliance Report or Certificate).

The MD of Peace No. 135 works closely with the Mackenzie Municipal Services Agency to implement its land use planning framework.

New/On Going Projects

E.g., Cannabis Legalization

Up-coming Public Hearings

E.g. for any Land Use Amendment Bylaw

General Inquiries

General inquiries about Planning and Development can be directed to Lelia Sumner, the Development Officer at the MD of Peace No. 135, by phone at (780) 338-3846 by email at lsumner@mdpeace.com

Land Use Planning Framework

The Municipal District of Peace No. 135 derives its authority to make decisions on land use planning matters from the Government of Alberta through provincial legislation and regulations, including the Municipal Government Act (MGA), the Alberta Land Stewardship Act (ALSA) and the Subdivision and Development Regulation, that delegate certain powers and authority to municipalities. Municipal District of Peace No. 135’s land use planning framework can be illustrated as follows:

Together with the Province’s MGA, ALSA, Land Use Policies and Subdivision and Development Regulation, and the M.D.’s statutory plans, Land Use Bylaw, Policies, and other documents, the land use planning framework serves as a guide for planning, development and subdivision within the Municipal District of Peace No. 135. Following is a description of and link to these documents. Some of the M.D.’s documents represent Office Consolidations that incorporate the original documents and subsequent amendments approved by Council by bylaw. In case of uncertainty, the reader is advised to consult the original documents, available at the Municipal District of Peace No. 135 office.

Municipal Government Act

The Municipal Government Act is the key provincial legislation from which the Municipal District of Peace No. 135 derives its authority to undertake planning and development. The MGA establishes the powers and responsibilities of Council and administration in creating policies, plans and bylaws to regulate land use and development within their municipality, to ensure orderly physical, environmental and economical beneficial development. Specifically, the MGA allows a municipality to create four (4) types of statutory plans—namely, Municipal Development Plan (MDP), Intermunicipal Development Plan (IDP), Area Structure Plan (ASP) and Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP)—and the Land Use Bylaw. These provide a framework for coordinated land use planning and decision-making. The MGA also provides municipalities with enforcement mechanisms to ensure conformity between development and approved plans and bylaws. Click the link below to view the MGA.

Alberta Land Stewardship Act

The Alberta Land Stewardship Act (ALSA) is a 2009 provincial legislation that establishes a regional approach to land use planning through the implementation of the Alberta Land-use Framework (LUF). It aims to achieve Alberta’s long-term economic, social and environmental goals through the efficient management of public and private lands and natural resources. The ALSA divides up the province into seven “land-use regions”, based on the LUF, which correspond to Alberta’s major watersheds, and contemplates a regional plan for each region. Municipal District of Peace No. 135 is located within the Upper Peace Region. Once adopted, the Upper Peace Regional Plan will provide high-level policy direction for land use planning and decision-making within the MD Click the link below to view the ALSA.

Provincial Land Use Policies

The province’s Land Use Policies were created in 1996 under the MGA to guide municipalities in harmonizing provincial and municipal policy initiatives at the local land use planning level. The policies establish high-level principles, such as a collaborative approach to addressing planning issues, for better land use planning. The Provincial Land Use Policies will be replaced by regional plans once in effect. Click the link below to view the Provincial Land Use Policies.

Subdivision and Development Regulation

Enacted in 2002 and amended in 2017, the Subdivision and Development Regulation outlines a number of requirements, procedures and guidelines for the referral and decision-making process on subdivision applications in Alberta, in addition to the requirements of the MGA. The Subdivision and Development Regulation prescribes the following setback distances:

  • 100 metres from gas and oil wells;
  • 1.5 kilometres from sour gas wells and facilities (depending on the level of the sour gas facility and the intensity of the proposed use);
  • 300 metres from the working area of a wastewater treatment plant;
  • 300 metres from the disposal area of an operating or non-operating landfill, or the working area of an operating storage site; and
  • 450 metres from the working area of an operating landfill, the working or disposal area of a non-operating hazardous waste management facility or the working area or disposal area of an operating hazardous waste management facility.

An applicant for subdivision or development permit (except when the proposed building is less than 47 square metres) is also required by the Subdivision and Development Regulation to supply information regarding abandoned oil and gas wells on the subject parcel. If an abandoned well is identified during the application process, Alberta Energy Regulator Directive 079 (Surface Development in Proximity to Abandoned Wells) prescribes minimum setbacks and may require the applicant to contact the licensee of record. Click the link below to view the Subdivision and Development Regulation.

Intermunicipal Development Plans

An Intermunicipal Development Plan (IDP) is a statutory plan prepared collaboratively between two (or more) municipalities to provide direction for the future development of lands of mutual importance. An IDP serves as a cooperative framework for efficient land use planning and development decision-making at the interface between municipal boundaries. IDPs are adopted by the municipalities party to them through matching municipal bylaws, and contain policies that address land use, environmental matters, transportation, economic development, and intermunicipal infrastructure, services and programs, as well as procedures for administering and amending the plan. All IDPs will have to be consistent with the ALSA Regional Plans of the Provincial Land Use Framework, once those are completed.

Municipal District of Peace No. 135 shares boundaries with eight municipalities, three urban and five rural. The urban municipalities are the Village of Berwyn, the Town of Grimshaw and the Town of Peace River. The rural municipalities include: County of Northern Lights, Clear Hills County, Municipal District of Fairview No.136, Birch Hills County, and Northern Sunrise County. Previously, IDPs were not required under the MGA; they were only developed when neighbouring municipalities agreed to adopt them. However, under the amended MGA, IDPs are now mandatory for all municipalities that share a common boundary unless 1) they are part of a growth region, or 2) have been granted an exemption from the requirement of adopting an IDP by the Minster of Municipal Affairs.

At present, the MD has:

The Lac Cardinal Intermunicipal Development Plan (2016) – an IDP between the MD of Peace No. 135, the Town of Grimshaw and the Village of Berwyn. This IDP will be updated.

The Peace River Intermunicipal Development Plan (2009) – an IDP between the MD of Peace No. 135, County of Northern Lights, Peace River and Northern Sunrise County has been replaced with new IDPs in 2019 between the MD of Peace No. 135 and the County of Northern Lights  and the MD of Peace No. 135  and Town of Peace River.


Municipal Development Plan (2010)

The Municipal Development Plan (MDP) was adopted in 2009 by Council to provide a cohesive framework to guide local decision making that is necessary to achieve the M.D. of Peace No. 135’s long term vision. The MDP guides future land use, infrastructure, environmental, social and economic policy decisions in a manner that reflects the municipality’s vision. The MDP was also developed to protect the MD’s agricultural land base, rural character, and unique natural features along the Shaftesbury Trail and adjacent to Lac Cardinal, while promoting its tourism and development potential.

The MDP is also aimed at promoting residential, commercial and industrial growth through sustainable and efficient development practices and standards. The guiding principle of the MDP is that all future growth in the MD will occur in an orderly, efficient and economically sound manner. This will be accomplished by efficient land use patterns, protection of agricultural land and natural environment, and provision of municipal infrastructure. Click the link below to view the MDP.

Hard copies of the Municipal Development Plan, in book form, are available for sale at the M.D. of Peace Office for a price of $25.00 + GST.

Area Structure Plans (ASPs)

Area Structure Plans provide a framework for future subdivision and development of land, resulting in the creation of new neighbourhoods or commercial areas. They identify where residential, commercial, institutional and industrial development will be located and how services such as water, electricity, sewer systems, telecommunications, schools, fire protection and parks will be provided. As with other statutory plans, ASPs must be consistent with an applicable ALSA Regional Plan (or the Provincial Land Use Policies in its absence). ASPs are either prepared by the M.D. or required from a developer or land owner in advance of a subdivision proposal. Currently, the Municipal District of Peace No. 135 has the following ASPs:

Land Use Bylaw No. 1/2012 (Consolidated 2017)

The Land Use Bylaw can be described as the “rule book” for development within the MD of Peace No. 135. It regulates the development of land and buildings on a site-specific basis, based on the policy directions set by the MDP, IDPs and ASPs. The LUB defines what constitutes development (or land use); divides up the MD into land use districts and lists the land uses allowed in each district. It also separates all the land uses enabled in each district into permitted and discretionary uses; and sets the development standards (e.g., size of land and buildings, building heights, setbacks and site coverage) for each land use district. The LUB also outlines the requirements for a development permit application and timelines for decision; the process for appealing a development permit decision; and the process for amending the Land Use Bylaw. Click the link below to view the Land Use Bylaw.

Additional Land Use Bylaw Amendments (not in consolidated document)

Following is the list of amendments to the Land Use Bylaw that have been passed by Council but have not yet been incorporated into the consolidated Land Use Bylaw:

Amending the Land Use Bylaw

A person may apply to amend the Land Use Bylaw, in writing, to the Development Officer by completing the form below and submitting an application fee as established by Council. All applications to amend the Bylaw shall include the following:

  • A certificate of title for the subject property;
  • An indication of the applicant’s interest in the subject property;
  • A statement of the proposed land uses;
  • Reasons in support of the amendment; and
  • Any supporting drawings subject to the satisfaction of the Development Officer

Council may determine that the whole or part of the application fee be returned to the applicant. All amendments to the Land Use Bylaw shall be made in conformity with the provisions of the MGA and any applicable statutory plans. The Municipal District of Peace may, at any time, also initiate an amendment to the Land Use Bylaw.

Policies, Standards and Other Documents  

In addition to the provincial legislation, statutory plans and the Land Use Bylaw, the Municipal District of Peace No. 135 has policies, studies and other documents that may be used when considering applications for development permit and subdivision. They include:

Public Participation Policy ADM – 27

Adopted by Council in 2018, the Public Participation Policy outlines the Municipal District of Peace No. 135’s approach to public participation. It defines the role of the MD in informing and engaging stakeholders in the municipal decision-making process. Click the link below to view the Public Participation Policy.

Shaftesbury Trail Study

The Shaftesbury Trail is a unique, culturally-historic and environmentally-significant shoreline that runs along the Peace River on the eastern edge of the Municipal District of Peace No. 135. During the development of the Municipal Development Plan (MDP) in 2009, it was determined that while the Shaftesbury Trail is facing unique pressures, it also offers a variety of unique opportunities. Therefore, additional study of the area was needed to provide further direction and guide future development. This resulted in the Shaftesbury Trail Study, which was completed in 2014 by the Mackenzie Municipal Services Agency on behalf of the MD of Peace. The study contains policies aimed at directing and facilitating positive change along the Shaftesbury Trail. The policies envision an orderly and sequential pattern of land use transition accommodating new residential, tourism and economic opportunities, while respecting adjacent land uses and striving to preserve and integrate natural features, open space, visual characteristics and historically significant sites. The Shaftesbury Trail Study works in conjunction with the Municipal District’s MDP and Land-Use Bylaw. Click the link below to view the Shaftesbury Trail Study.

Gravel Pit Study

The Gravel Pit Study was completed in 2011 by the Mackenzie Municipal Services Agency for the Municipal District of Peace No. 135. The purpose of the study was to develop guidelines and regulations for ensuring sustainable gravel pit development and operations, in order to address concerns over the visual, environmental and economic impact of private sand and gravel pit operations within the M.D. The study categorizes gravel pit development and operations into yellow and white zones. Yellow zones are areas within the M.D. where gravel pit development and operations are restricted due to the presence of environmentally sensitive lands, public amenities, fertile soils and other features that are incompatible with gravel pit operations. White zones are permitted zones for gravel pit development and operations, subject to provincial and municipal requirements. The study contains guidelines, standards, regulations and application checklist for new gravel pit operations, in addition to those contained in the Land Use Bylaw. The Gravel Pit Study recommends (1) that the environmental impacts of any new gravel pit application are considered before approving any new development permits; (2) public consultation and awareness building be undertaken to gather public support for the restriction zone. Individuals or companies planning to develop new gravel pits, or expand or significantly modify their existing gravel pit operations, are encouraged to review the regulations in the study prior to commencing their application for a development permit. Click the link below to view the Gravel Pit Study.

Private Sewer Setback Distances

Private sewer setback distances are minimum separation distances required between private sewer tanks, including water-tight septic tanks, holding tanks, effluent tanks, settling tanks, and other important features such as a body of water and buildings. These distances are established by the Alberta Safety Codes Council and must be complied with before a permit can be issued. Residents planning to develop on-site sewer systems are required to comply with these setback distances and other requirements. Click link below to view the setback distances.

Area Structure Plan Guidelines

The Area Structure Plan Guidelines were developed in 2015 to provide guidelines for the preparation of Area Structure Plans (ASP) required in advance of a subdivision application. The Guidelines identify high priority lands or locations where an ASP may be required as well as which types of subdivision require an ASP. It also outlines the content of an ASP, including background studies, site description and analysis, proposed land uses, sequence of development, the provision of municipal and environmental reserve lands, servicing requirements, the provision of amenities, the protection of environmental and any historical features, and conformity to the MGA, MDP, other statutory plans, the Land Use Bylaw and any applicable non-statutory documents. The Area Structure Plan Guidelines were developed based on relevant provincial and municipal legislation. Land owners and developers planning to undertake subdivision are advised to consult the guidelines to determine if an ASP is required, and if so, what is needed in developing one. Click the link below to view the M.D. of Peace’s Area Structure Plan Guidelines.

Relationship Between Planning Documents

The hierarchy of documents within the M.D. of Peace No. 135’s land use planning framework is established by the MGA. The MGA requires that each level is consistent with the level above and below it, and that the policies or regulations within planning document(s) at each level may be implemented by those below them in the decision-making process. The MGA provides the legislative authority for municipal land use planning and decision-making, while the ALSA regional plan (or Land Use Policies in their absence) provides broad-based policy directions and principles for municipal land use planning, which are effected through statutory plans and bylaws. The statutory plans provide future direction for the development and use of lands at the fringe areas of the M.D.’s boundaries (IDPs), or within the whole municipality (MDP), or small areas of the M.D. in greater detail (ASPs). The LUB regulates the use and development of land based on the policy directions of statutory plans, while the Subdivision and Development Regulation regulates subdivision planning in conjunction with the MGA, applicable statutory plans, and the Land Use Bylaw. The polices, studies, guidelines and other documents contain additional information or specific requirements outside statutory plans and the LUB documents to establish application requirements and inform the review and decision-making process for development permit and subdivision applications, either in general or for certain types of development and subdivision, or for development and subdivision at certain locations. Where there is a conflict or inconsistency between a higher-level planning document and a lower-level planning document, the higher-level planning document prevails to the extent of the conflict or inconsistency.

 Subdivision and Development  Application Process

Applying for a Development Permit

Unless exempted by the Land Use Bylaw or other legislation, all developments within the M.D. of Peace No. 135 require a development permit. A development permit provides legal authorization for a development; having it protects the property owner or renter/lessee against future legal or transactional issues. Development permits must be obtained prior to undertaking a development. The process of applying for a development permit, including all the documents required, is detailed in the brochure below. Applicants for a development permit are advised to read the guidelines prior to completing an application.

To apply for a development permit, please download and complete the application form and submit it to the M.D. Office. If the proposed development is not enabled in the district where your site is located, you must first apply for an amendment to the Land Use Bylaw, to enable the type of development you want and, if successful, apply for a development permit. To apply for a Land Use Bylaw Amendment, use the Land Use Bylaw Amendment Application form (hyperlink to uploaded form).

Unless extended by a written agreement between the Development Authority and the applicant, the Development Authority has 40 days to make a decision on a development permit application from the date the applicant is issued a Notice of Complete Application. To ensure timely processing of applications, it is important for applicants to submit a complete application and also provide any additional information, if required by the Development Authority during the review process. Please contact the Development Officer at the M.D. of Peace Municipal Office prior to submitting an application, if you have any questions about completing the application form.

Depending on the nature of the proposed development, applicants may require additional permits/ licenses from the M.D. or external organizations before commencing or operating their development. Permits/licenses from external agencies may include building, fire, mechanical/electrical, plumbing and gas permits from an accredited Safety Codes Agency and/or license from a federal or provincial agency (e.g., Cannabis Store License from AGLC to operate a cannabis retail facility). Click on the link below for the current approved Safety Codes agencies:

In addition to permits/licenses, inspections may also be conducted by the M.D. of Peace Municipal Office, provincial authorities or external agencies to verify that the completed development complies with applicable legislation, standards or conditions of the approved permit or license. These inspections may include fire, safety codes and health inspections.

Applying for a Subdivision

Subdivision is the process of dividing a single parcel of land into two or more parcels, each with a separate Certificate of Title. A registered land or property owner (or their authorized agent) wishing to create two or more lots from a single parcel of land must obtain a subdivision approval prior to subdividing the land. The Mackenzie Municipal Services Agency (MMSA) is the Subdivision Authority for the M.D. of Peace No. 135. Applicants for subdivision can download the application package, which includes the Subdivision Application Guidelines and application form, which are available on the MMSA website.

Subdivision planning within the M.D. of Peace is guided by the MGA, the Subdivision Authority Bylaw (which designates MMSA as the subdivision authority for the M.D. of Peace No. 135), the Subdivision and Development Regulation, the Land Use Bylaw, any applicable statutory plans, policies, other bylaws, standards and regulations.

Subdivision and Development Appeal

Decisions of the Development Authority and Subdivision Authority may be appealed to the Peace Regional Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (PRSCAB), excluding subdivision appeals that are heard by the Municipal Government Board (MGB) pursuant to section 687(2) of the Municipal Government Act (MGA).    The Subdivision Authority’s decision letter will state whether an appeal lies with the PRSDAB or the MGB.

The PRSDAB is an independent, intermunicipal Subdivision and Development Appeal Board established  Bylaw No. 5/ 2019 Peace Regional Intermunicipal SDAB.  More information about the PRSDAB, including the process for filing an appeal, are available at http://mmsa.ca/services/peace-regional-sdab.

The MGB only hears subdivision appeals where the land that is the subject of the appeal is:

  • within Alberta’s Green Area;
  • ‘adjacent’ to or contains a Body of Water; (‘Adjacent’ means contiguous or would be contiguous if not for a railway, road, utility right of way or reserve land).
  • adjacent to or contains (either partially or wholly) land identified on the Listing of Historic Resources or public land set aside for use as historic resources.
  • within the following distances:
    • 1600 metres of a Provincial Highway;
    • 450 metres of a Hazardous Waste Management Facility;
    • 450 metres of the working area of an operating Landfill;
    • 300 metres of the disposal area of any Landfill;
    • 300 metres of a Waste water Treatment Plant; or
    • 300 metres of the working area of a Non-Hazardous Waste Storage Site.

The Peace Regional Development Appeal Board and the Municipal Government Board are impartial, quasi-judicial bodies that make independent decisions on appeal cases before them, strictly based on the evidence presented to them at a hearing, and in accordance with the MGA, other provincial legislation and municipal appeal bylaw. The process for appealing a decision of the Development or Subdivision Authority, including the timelines for filing an appeal, are outlined in the guidelines for development permit and subdivision applications, respectively. The appeal form for development (development permit decisions and stop orders) can be downloaded below. The subdivision appeal information is included in the Subdivision Authority’s decision letter.

Please contact the Municipal District of Peace No. 135 CAO/Development Officer at 780-338-3845 if you have any questions about the appeal process.