Urban, Suburban, Regional and Wet Growth in Alberta

Post date: Mar 28, 2020 11:43:18 AM


Sub(urban) growth, or “sprawl” as it is often described, elicits various emotions among elected 

officials, policy-makers, planners, land developers, and residents. The phenomenon is either well 

supported or categorically rejected, although for some people a comfortable middle ground 

emerges. Despite the fast pace of growth in Alberta, however, misconceptions, questions, and 

assumptions remain regarding the impact of sprawl on the urban form. 

This research had several goals: 

•  to systematically explore the concerns about suburban development within the existing 


•  to examine them within an Alberta context—specifically the sub(urban) forms in the major 

cities of Calgary and Edmonton 

•  to identify factors responsible for various settlement forms, through empirical analyses; and 

•  to make policy recommendations 

This report will help inform policy decisions at the local and provincial levels in Alberta. We 

also hope the findings will contribute more broadly to the current national, province-wide, and 

local debate on urban form. The report makes the following broad assertions: 

1.  The provincial government should consider using water as a tool to manage regional growth 

across the province and integrate it with the “efficient use of land” strategy in the Land Use 


2.  Strategy 5 (efficient use of land) in the Land Use Framework should be made a legally 

binding regulatory component of the regional plans. 

3.  Alberta cities will have to design their model of development charges and/or any other form 

of levies to ensure that the cost of new developments can be fully covered. The Municipal 

Government Act should allow municipalities to charge developers for other forms of 

infrastructure such as community facilities for recreation, library, police stations and others. 

4.  For metropolitan areas such as Calgary, Red Deer, Lethbridge, and Medicine Hat, the 

provincial government should consider creating mandatory growth management boards, like 

Edmonton’s Capital Region Board. 

5.  The provincial government should establish regional governance structures to manage each 

region as identified in the Province’s Land Use Framework. 

6.  The provincial government should allow these regional bodies to not only devise policy 

framework with respect to land use, transportation, and housing, but also provide services 

such as transit, police, fire, water, and others as per individual municipal needs, along the 

lines of British Columbia’s regional districts. 

7.  The provincial government should work with the municipal governments—both urban and 

rural—to encourage and facilitate various components of the Transfer of Development 

Credits (such as sending area, receiving area, and the credit transfer system), enabled by the 

Alberta Land Stewardship Act. 

The full report can be downloaded from Alberta Land Institute: