Planning in the municipal context deals with
land use, social and
community services, housing,
cultural and heritage resources, economic development,
finance, environment, transportation
Municipal councils are responsible for making planning
and land use decisions. This means that they can determine the plan designations for an area, the
density of a neighbourhood and the size and dimensions of a lot. They prescribe the nature and
level of servicing, as well as the protection of hazardous and sensitive environmental areas.
They can determine what type, height and size of buildings will be permitted and they approve
building and occupancy permits.
Municipalities have a range of planning tools available to assist them with this
responsibility (i.e. community planning,
development cost charges,
environmental planning, heritage planning,
Board of Variance, development variance
permits and subdivision approval). The scope of these tools is related to the size and
complexity of the community.
One of the most important planning documents is an
Official Community Plan (OCP). This
document is a statement of objectives and policies to guide decisions on planning and land
use management respecting the purposes of the municipality. It is a guide for
officials, the public and the development community in making decisions about development
and services. Policy statements in an OCP might cover such things as the community’s social
needs, or a regional context statement (if the plan area is in a
regional growth strategy
Residents and other interested parties play an important role in deciding how their
community will develop by making their views know to their municipality. The development of
plans and bylaws usually provides opportunities for public consultation through
hearings or other means. In addition, municipal council’s can receive recommendations from
residents and others about land use planning issues by creating an
Advisory Planning Commission.