The Path of a Development Application

Policy and planning checkpoints that steer the process.

New communities seem to rise quickly: one moment there’s bare land, the next there are houses and parks. But construction—digging dirt, pouring foundations, planting trees—is only the end stage of years of planning, collaboration, and consultation between the developer and The City. Before the dirt gets turned, its development application goes through a series of planning and policy checkpoints.

Step One: City Business Units Drive the Process

What happens?

The first step in building a new community is creating an Area Structure Plan (ASP), a general framework for how the parcel of land will be planned and developed. It must meet the goals set out in the Municipal Development Plan and the CTP Calgary Transportation Plan.  

Who’s involved?

The ASP is prepared by The City’s Local Area Planning and Implementation Business Unit (part of the Planning, Development & Assessment department) in close consultation with the landowners and developers. The developer funds the ASP process, which usually includes input from a range of stakeholders, including the Parks, Transportation, and Water City Business Units, as well as municipal service providers, school boards, utility companies, and adjacent communities.

Who signs off?

An ASP is a statutory plan; it must be approved by City Council.

How long does it take?

About a year.

 

Step Two: Planners and Developers Work Out the Details

What happens?

Time to create an Outline Plan, a developer-funded, non-statutory document that describes the developer’s concept for a new community. It includes general information about land uses, as well as details about the location and size of roads, parks, and school sites. It’s typically prepared alongside a Land Use Redesignation (sometimes called a Land Use Bylaw Amendment application or just “rezoning”) application, which requests a change to the land use designation.

Who’s involved?

This process is developer-driven, in consultation with the Calgary Planning Commission (CPC). The CPC is an annually appointed committee that includes the general managers of Planning, Development & Assessment and Transportation departments, as well as two Council members and six citizens.

Who signs off?

The CPC must approve an Outline Plan for development to move forward, but a Land Use Redesignation (because it’s connected to a bylaw) has to be passed by City Council.

How long does it take?

About a year.

 

Step Three: The Subdivision Authority Weighs In

What happens?

Now that the Land Use Redesignation is approved, that framework can be fleshed out in greater detail in a Plan of Subdivision, which defines the sizes and dimensions of all the lots, as well as the street layouts and even the street names. This Plan is a statutory document. Once it’s approved, a developer can enter into a Master Development Agreement with The City, a legal contract that determines how the new subdivision will receive services and infrastructure, who is responsible for what, and how the process will be funded.

Who’s involved?

The Plan of Subdivision application is prepared by a developer and planner and reviewed by the Corporate Planning Application Group (CPAG), an interdepartmental group made up of representatives from Transportation, Water Resources, Planning, and Parks. It may also receive input from provincial utilities providers. CPAG passes its recommendations on to the Subdivision Authority, which is made up of the CPC and the Senior Subdivision Officer.

Who signs off?

The Subdivision Authority approves the Plan of Subdivision. At this point, a developer can work with an Alberta Land Surveyor to translate the Plan of Subdivision into a more detailed Legal Plan, which shows the location, orientation and size of each lot.

How long does it take?

About a year.

Congratulations! Now shovels can go in the ground. But wait—what happens if a developer’s application is refused?

 

Bonus Step: Calgary Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB) Makes a CallSDAB) Makes a Call

The SDAB, which is made up of citizens who are not part of the CPC, hears appeals when the Subdivision Authority refuses a development plan. Applicants must file an appeal within 14 business days of being refused, and the appeal receives a formal, impartial hearing within 30 days. SDAB, which is made up of citizens who are not part of the CPC, hears appeals when the Subdivision Authority refuses a development plan. Applicants must file an appeal within 14 business days of being refused, and the appeal receives a formal, impartial hearing within 30 days. 

It’s your city to build. Read our book, "From Dirt to Door,” to understand the entire  process: who does the work, which stakeholder pays for what, how long it takes and where you fit in. 

Published
May 18th, 2017


The City departments (and other stakeholders) involved with the development application process.


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