Governance

Smart Communities

Smart Communities                                                                                      

The world is evolving - society has become increasingly digital, mobile, and connected. More than ever, communities need to ensure they manage critical infrastructure effectively, deliver services efficiently, collaborate freely, and analyze data for local benefit.

Intermunicipal planning

Until the adoption of the Capital Region Board regulation, regional planning at the municipal level was entirely voluntary. Municipalities were required to consider adjacent municipalities in their planning but formal arrangements were left to each municipality. Many municipalities used their natural person powers to enter into agreements with their neighbours to address shared services such as utilities, fire protection, recreation or other matters of mutual interest.

Actions in the pursuit of planning goals

The extent to which councils undertake actions to implement a plan generally reflects the attitude towards the role of government and the role of the private sector. Some take the view that development is a private matter and that the plan should rely on the private market to determine whether particular goals can be achieved. Others believe that the market sometimes needs a push. There are a variety of tools and techniques that can be used to leverage planning outcomes.

Achieving cultural and aesthetic objectives

Cultural objectives relate to the artistic and recreational assets of a community, reflecting its shared values, diverse traditions, customs, heritage, identity, and history. Land use planning can have a significant impact on the culture of a community affecting its attractiveness and how its residents interact. Municipalities are increasingly considering cultural aspects of planning and using a variety of tools to achieve cultural objectives. 

Achieving environmental objectives

Need for policy

The public increasingly looks to municipalities to take action to protect the natural environment. Municipalities should consider providing broad statements of intent in the municipal development plan which can then be followed up with specific strategies. An overall assessment of significant environmental resources and features will provide a useful framework for specific actions and priorities. A brief discussion of common areas of concern is presented below.

Achieving social objectives

Housing

Affordable housing is the most frequent social target for land use plans and bylaws. A minimum approach might be to review the land use bylaw to remove impediments to low cost housing alternatives such as basement suites and modular homes by making these permitted or discretionary in more districts. Some municipalities have developed selective incentives to facilitate particular housing objectives. An example from the City of Edmonton is the provision of grants for upgrading secondary suites to increase safe affordable housing options.

Planning approvals and appeals

The approval process

The planning, subdivision and development processes allow private aspirations for the use of land to be considered within the context of the municipal vision and rules for development. They also must provide opportunities for the public to be heard.

There are essentially three steps to consider:

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