Town of Canmore

Area Structure Plan Process

Overview

The South Saskatchewan Regional Plan (SSRP)  establishes the vision, outcomes, and objectives for sustaining vibrant growth, communities, and a healthy environment for the entire region, which includes Canmore and neighbouring municipalities. At times, we need to coordinate with our neighbours on issues related to achieving these goals. The type of plan used to reach mutual understanding between municipalities on shared services is known as an Intermunicipal Development Plan (IDP).

In planning Canmore’s built future, the initial blank canvas is a swath of undeveloped land. The Municipal Development Plan (MDP) is the document in place to apply broad brush strokes to this canvas by integrating the community’s vision with municipal planning and decision making. The MDP addresses environmental, economic, social, cultural, and governance aspects of the community from a land use and development perspective, and applies equally to both private and municipal lands and interests. 

In the planning hierarchy Area Structure Plans (ASPs) and Area Redevelopment Plans (ARPs) come after the MDP. These plans are  statutory and outline the principles that will guide future development within the plan area. ASPs and ARPs generally identify the number of people that are expected to live in the new area, how development will be sequenced over time, the location of future residential, commercial, institutional and recreational uses and how essential municipal services, such as water, sewer and transportation systems will be provided or updated. 

The primary difference between an ASP and an ARP is that ASPs plan for land that was previously undeveloped and lacks services, such as water and sewer and infrastructure such as roads; ARPs address land that is being redeveloped and is already serviced and has existing infrastructure. 

Conceptual Schemes (CSs) are non-statutory plans that provide the detail for orderly subdivision and development within the boundaries established by its parent ASP. 

After land is subdivided and/or its uses are designated, development can take place. Development refers to anything that modifies an existing piece of land including constructing a building or adding an addition to it.  

Clarifying Roles

Applicant
Area Structure Plans are traditionally applicant-led processes. This means that many of the steps throughout the process are led by the land-owners or those representing them, including conceptual design, writing of the plan, and submission to council. While there are steps in the process that involve coordination and collaboration with town administration and the Canmore community, the applicant is the keeper of the plan’s vision, schedule, and development of the supporting studies, policy, and details to ensure the plan is able to be implemented throughout future phases of the planning process. 

Graphic highlights steps of process applicant involved in.

Town Council & Administration
The primary role of Town Council is to exercise their authority by approving an ASP and adopt it as bylaw, denying it or tabling  a decision. Section 633 of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) outlines council’s authority in greater detail. The primary role of town administration is to ensure ASPs are consistent with provincial land use policy and any current Intermunicipal Development Plan (IDP), Municipal Development Plan (MDP) and any other council approved policy. They must also ensure the plan provides enough information to adequately guide the next steps of development planning including Conceptual Schemes (CS), land use designation, subdivision, and development.

Graphic highlights steps of process Town Council & Administration involved in.

Public
The ASP phase is the step in the planning process when development first begins to take shape. The public helped the Town craft the 2016 Municipal Development Plan, the primary document that informs the content of ASPs. The best time for the public to share ideas or concerns about how development should take place is early and frequently in the process.

Graphic highlights steps of process public involved in.

The Process

1. Pre-Consultation (TOC + Applicant)

This initial phase is meant to establish a mutual understanding between the applicant and town administration about the rationale and proposed approach for development within the plan area. To initiate the process, the applicant would engage the town administration to discuss the plan vision, phasing, technical studies, and other development considerations are discussed prior to development of the plan. 

2. Establishing the Terms of Reference (TOC + Applicant)

To ensure that decision makers have sufficient information on the area covered by the proposed ASP to make an informed decision, a Terms of Reference is prepared and submitted for approval by council. The Terms of Reference outlines the technical studies required to support the plan’s content. The terms of reference is developed by the applicant in consultation with town administration.

 

3. Design Workshop (TOC + Applicant)

The applicant engages with town administration in a single workshop prior to ASP preparation and submission. In this workshop, the applicant shares their preliminary findings from the required studies and identifies any major issues that require feedback from town administration.

4. Technical Analyses (Applicant)

The applicant completes the studies required by the ASP terms of reference, incorporating any feedback requested from the town during the design workshop. The results of these studies are then used to inform the concept development phase.

5. Concept Development (Applicant)

Taking the findings and feedback from each of the previous phases, the applicant develops their preliminary concepts for development within the plan area.

6. Public Participation (Applicant + Public)

The applicant initiates consultation with stakeholders and providing an opportunity for public input into the concept development. The town encourages the applicant to allow for public involvement as early and as frequently as feasible, to ensure the ASP adequately reflects and complements the Canmore community.

7. Writing the Plan (Applicant + Public + TOC)

The concepts developed during the previous phases will be refined by the applicant and used to produce the policy content of the plan.

8. Confirming the Plan (Applicant + TOC + Public)

Once a draft ASP is complete, the applicant will share it with the town for comment, as well as engage with the community for comment where necessary. This phase is the final opportunity, prior to final submission, for the applicant to incorporate feedback from town administration and the community.

9. Submitting the Plan (Applicant + TOC + Public)

Once a final submission has been made by the applicant, the process of council review involves three public considerations of the ASP, before the ASP is officially approved.  Each of these considerations are called readings. At the conclusion of each consideration, council will vote as to whether to give the document “reading”. If the vote passes, the document is moved to the next reading, until the proposed document obtains three readings.  After obtaining three readings the ASP is officially approved and goes into effect on the identified area. 

Readings must occur in a public business meeting of council. 

Council Decision Making Process

First reading is the first time council will see the proposed ASP.  First reading is the initial step in moving the ASP towards approval. If after considering the proposed document, council does not vote to give the document first reading, the process ends. If council does vote to give first reading, a public hearing is then scheduled.

The Public Hearing is an opportunity for council to hear directly from the publicly on the proposed document. It is at this time that members of the public can make a verbal presentation or written submission to council on the document under consideration. Council can ask questions of those who make verbal presentations. The applicant will typically make a presentation at the public hearing to provide further clarity and insight on their proposed document. 

Second Reading is where council can publicly discuss the feedback they’ve heard from the public. Council may ask further clarifying questions of town administration. At the conclusion of that discussion, council will vote on giving the proposed document second reading. If the vote passes, the document moves to Third reading. If the vote fails, the process ends.

Third Reading is the final step in the review process. Similar to second reading, council can discuss any matters associated with the proposed document and ask further clarifying questions of town administration. Council will then vote on giving the proposed document third reading.  If the vote passes, the document is formally adopted as a Town Bylaw, pursuant to the Municipal Government Act. If the vote fails, the process ends. In most cases, third reading is given immediately after second reading

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