The Planning and Development Act, 2007 (PDA), provides a council the authority to adopt an official community plan (OCP). The OCP is the keystone of the planning process and is essential in managing future growth and development of the community.
Under the legislation, the OCP must be prepared in consultation with a professional community planner as licensed under The Community Planning Profession Act, 2013. Additional review by a solicitor is highly recommended.
The purpose of the OCP is to provide a comprehensive policy framework to guide the physical, environmental, economic, social and cultural development of the municipality or any part of the municipality. A community plan is a growth management strategy for a municipality and enables it to set development goals, objectives and policies which council can use to manage land use, subdivision, municipal services, and public utilities. An OCP must also incorporate any applicable provincial land use policies and The Statements of Provincial Interest. An OCP is required to identify policies that address:
- sustainable current and future land use and development in the municipality;
- current and future economic development;
- the general provision of public works;
- the management of lands that are subject to natural hazards including, flooding, slope and instability;
- the management of environmentally sensitive lands;
- the co-ordination of land use, future growth patterns and public works with adjacent municipalities;
- source water protection; and
- implementation of the OCP.
An OCP may:
- address the coordination of municipal programs relating to development;
- contain statements of policy regarding the use of dedicated lands;
- contain concept plans for future planning of development;
- contain a map or series of maps that denote current or future land use or policy areas;
- if a council has been declared an approving authority, contain policies respecting site plan control for specific commercial or industrial development; and
- contain any other statements of policy relating to the physical, environmental, economic, social or cultural development of the municipality that the council considers advisable.
Without an OCP, a municipality:
- has little control over development and cannot effectively manage land use;
- cannot coordinate development with services and capital planning;
- cannot manage the separation of incompatible land uses (e.g. residences and industrial or livestock operations); and
- cannot protect development from locating on hazard lands.
Every development plan or basic planning statement established pursuant to a former Act and existing before May 21, 2007, the day on which the PDA came into force is deemed to be an OCP and is continued in force pursuant to section 248 of the Act, insofar as it is not inconsistent with the PDA or a provincial land use policy or statement of provincial interest.
The primary legal and administrative means of implementing an OCP is a zoning bylaw. A zoning bylaw divides a municipality into zoning districts and regulates the development and use of land in those districts. The purposes of a zoning bylaw are to control the use of land for providing for the amenity of the area within the council’s jurisdiction, and for the health, safety and general welfare of the inhabitants of the municipality.
A zoning bylaw permits a council to set standards for the use and subdivision of land, and helps manage the supply of municipal services and resources to new development. See below for a link to Community Planning's bylaws and forms.
Any person who contravenes any of the provisions of an OCP or Zoning Bylaw is guilty of an offense under the PDA. Such a person is liable, on summary conviction, to the penalties provided by the PDA. The municipality has the authority to correct situations of zoning noncompliance by issuing zoning enforcement orders and following the procedures identified in the PDA.