The planning framework ensures that each level is consistent with the level above and below it, and that the policies within each plan may be implemented by the plans below it, or the County’s Land Use Bylaw (LUB) during the subdivision and development approval processes.
Plans, Policies and Implementation Mechanisms
The province’s MGA, ALSA, and Subdivision and Development Regulation, and the County’s eight (8) plans, LUB and Subdivision and Development Appeal Board Bylaw contain the policies and regulations that help guide planning, subdivision and development within the County of Northern Lights. A description of and link to these documents are provided below. The County’s documents represent Office Consolidations that incorporate the original document approved by Bylaw, as approved by County Council, and all subsequent amendments. These plans are provided for convenience only. In case of uncertainty, the reader is advised to consult the original Bylaws, available at the County Office.
Municipal Government Act (MGA)
The MGA provides a framework for the responsible use of land to achieve orderly, economical and beneficial development, and to maintain and improve the quality of the physical environment within the County. It also establishes the powers of Council and administration.
Through the MGA, Council may establish development policies and create statutory plans for all or part of the County. The MGA allows for four types of statutory plans, including Intermunicipal Development Plans, Municipal Development Plans, Area Structure Plans and Area Redevelopment Plans that identify where homes, businesses, schools, parks, roads and utilities will be built. A statutory plan will require three readings and a public hearing before it can be adopted as a legally binding planning document. Council, administration and the Subdivision and Development Board must have regard for any statutory plan when making decisions on plan approvals and amendments, LUB amendments, subdivisions and development permits.
To view the Municipal Government Act CLICK HERE.
Alberta Land Stewardship Act (ALSA)
The ALSA guides the Alberta Land-use Framework (LUF), which establishes a regional planning approach to manage land and natural resources in the province. The Framework was released in December 2008 and sets out seven land-use regions. The County of Northern Lights is located within the Lower Peace Region, which also includes Mackenzie County, Northern Sunrise County and the Municipal District of Opportunity. The province will, in time, prepare a regional plan for the Lower Peace Region. The Framework establishes key provincial land-use objectives and responsibilities of the Stewardship Minister, Stewardship Commissioner, Land-use Secretariat and Regional Advisory Councils.
View the Alberta Land Stewardship Act.
Intermunicipal Development Plan (IDP)
An Intermunicipal Development Plan (IDP) is a Statutory Plan outlined and under legislative authority prescribed in Section 631 of the Municipal Government Act. "Two or more councils of municipalities that have common boundaries that are not members of a growth region as defined in section 708.01 must, by each passing a bylaw in accordance with this Part or in accordance with sections 12 and 692, adopt an intermunicipal development plan to include those areas of land lying within the boundaries of the municipalities as they consider necessary".
An IDP's fundamental purpose is to provide opportunities for collaboration and communication between the municipalities and establish policy direction and processes to address intermunicipal issues.
The County of Northern Lights has Intermunicipal Development Plans with the following neighbouring municipalities:
Municipal Development Plan (MDP)
The County of Northern Lights MDP provides policy direction to coordinate future land use within the County’s municipal boundaries. The MDP is comprised of policies that address: agriculture, residential development, commerce and industry, natural areas, transportation and servicing, hamlets and rural settlements, intermunicipal relations, and crown land.
View the County of Northern Lights MDP.
The purpose of Council’s 2019-2021 Strategic Issues document is to identify issues facing the County and develop and implement an action plan to achieve the following outcomes: action plan to achieve the following outcomes:
View the County of Northern Lights Strategic Issues Document.
Area Structure Plan (ASP)
The MGA intends that lands within a municipality must be developed in an orderly and efficient manner. The maps and policies of ASPs identify where residential, commercial, institutional, industrial and/or parks will be located and how services such as water, stormwater, and sewer systems and roads, schools and parks, and fire protection will be provided. These plans also estimate the number of people that are expected to live in the new area and how development will be staged over time. It is through ASPs that the policies of the MDP are applied.
View the County’s Area Structure Plans:
Area Concept Plans (ACP) and Outline Plans (OP)
The Weberville Highway Corridor ACP is a non-statutory land use plan that provides a comprehensive planning policy framework and generalized future land use concept for a large area between Highway 986 and the Town of Peace River along Highway 743. Although the ACP is not a statutory planning document, this plan provides guidance for the development of future ASPs, and to Council and administration in reviewing future zoning, subdivision and development proposals. A non-statutory plan is passed by resolution of Council.
View the Weberville Highway Corridor ACP.
In addition to ACPs, the County of Northern Lights also uses other non-statutory plans, such as OPs when beginning to consider land use plans and detailed transportation and servicing concepts for future subdivision and development of land.
View the County’s Outline Plans:
Land Use Bylaw (LUB)
The purpose of the LUB is to control the use and development of land and buildings within the County on a site specific basis. The LUB divides the County into crown land, agricultural, residential, commercial, industrial land use districts, lists permitted and discretionary land uses, establishes site development provisions such as building height and yard setbacks, and provides a system to amend the bylaw and issue development approvals. The LUB implements the policies of the IDP, MDP, ASPs, ACPs and OPs.
View the County’s LUB.
All development within the County requires a valid development permit unless the development is exempted in the LUB (and the MGA in some cases). The issuance of development permits is the responsibility of the Development Authority, either Council or the County’s Development Officer. Before construction starts a builder must apply for a development permit. The permit ensures that the proposed building or structure or use of the land meets the regulations of the LUB for the site. Permits also ensure municipal bylaw compliance and protect property owners from future legal and/or transactional issues.
The Development Authority must make a decision on a development permit within 40 days unless the applicant and Development Authority agree to extend the time, and notify affected persons of the decision. Builders are also required to acquire applicable provincial plumbing permits, gas inspection permits, a building permit, electrical permit, and meet the requirements of the Safety Codes Act.
Development Permits will not be issued without proof of New Home Warranty for new construction of residential development including modular and manufactured homes.
View the County’s Development Information Package and Development Permit Application Form:
New Home Warranty
As of February 1, 2014, every new home built in Alberta is protected under warranty, thanks to Alberta’s New Home Buyer Protection Act.
New homes (single detached family homes/duplexes/multi-family homes/condominiums/manufactured homes/recreational properties) include, at minimum, a warranty for:
Information about Alberta’s warranty standards can be found at http://homewarranty.alberta.ca
Subdivision is the process whereby a parcel of land is divided into two or more parcels in order to obtain separate legal titles for each parcel. Subdivision of land is an important and effective land use management and planning tool. Subdivision within the County is governed by the MGA, which designates Council as the approving authority, and the Subdivision and Development Regulation. A person wishing to create two or more lots from a single parcel of land must obtain subdivision approval from the County.
View the Subdivision and Development Regulation.
View the County’s Subdivision Information Application Package and Subdivision Application Form.
Municipal Servicing Standards
The County’s Municipal Servicing Standards apply to all development projects. The objective is to ensure that all infrastructure work in the County is constructed to a consistent standard. The standards will be updated as necessary and any revisions will be posted on the website.
View the County’s Municipal Servicing Standards.
Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB)
Subdivision and Development Permit decisions may be appealed to the SDAB. SDAB members must make decisions on appeals based on impartial and fair evidence presented to the Board during a hearing. The role of any SDAB member is to participate in the hearing process and to ensure decisions on applications are made in a timely manner. The Board is established by Bylaw of Council with members appointed by Council.
View the County’s SDAB Bylaw.
Subdivision and Development Appeals
View the County’s SDAB Appeal Application Form.
Grimshaw Gravels Aquifer
The County of Northern Lights possesses groundwater resources of great importance, the most significant of which is the Grimshaw Gravels Aquifer, located in the south portion of the County. High standards of development are required to protect this resource. Accordingly, the County may prohibit developments which negatively impact groundwater quality or environmentally sensitive areas. Subdivision and development proposals located in the Grimshaw Gravels Aquifer area may be submitted to Alberta Environment and Parks for review, and shall be referred to the Grimshaw Gravels Aquifer Management Advisory Association for comment and advice.
View the Grimshaw Gravels Aquifer Management Advisory Association website.
Development Officer: Gloria Dechant
Tel: 780.836.3348 Ext. 232