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Toward a Renewed Land Use Bylaw

In June 2019, Council directed administration to return with an outline for what new land use bylaw districts could look like based on the new Guidebook for Great Communities. A Framework for a Renewed Land Use Bylaw & Outline for New Districts was included with this report as a part of the implementation plan on the Guidebook. It provides an overview of the rationale and priorities for the renewal and outlines how a renewed Land Use Bylaw would respond to the draft of the Guidebook presented at that time. A public report about the updated scope of the Land Use Bylaw renewal, aligning with the updated Guidebook, will be presented to the Standing Policy Committee on Planning and Urban Development on April 7, 2021.

History and purpose of a new Framework

Over the past ten years, numerous engagements regarding Land Use Bylaw 1P2007 (the Bylaw) have been completed. Generally, feedback focused on the following issues with the Bylaw:

  • Unclear relationship between the Municipal Development Plan and the Bylaw.
  • Misalignment between desired policy objectives of the Municipal Development Plan and the implementation tools (districts and rules) in the Bylaw.
  • Restrictive or inflexible regulations that limit the ability for innovation.
  • Parking regulations that often negatively impact desired built form outcomes.
  • Land use districts that are assigned according to development that is already there instead of assigning districts that enable new development aligned with policy.

Revisions to the Guidebook for Great Communities and the local area plans provides an opportunity to directly link policy with the Bylaw. Using the goals and principles of the Guidebook, a renewed Bylaw will be focused on regulating the aspects that impact the experience a person has at street-level (see illustrations 1 & 2 for a visual description).​

To achieve people-centred outcomes, a new framework is needed to structure and test new districts and regulation for the Bylaw. The following illustration outlines the main changes from the existing Bylaw framework to a new Bylaw framework:

Current Approach

Focus on Status Quo

  • Regulates according to pre-existing uses and development.


  • Over 200 unique uses
  • Over 61 standard districts
  • Over 3000 direct control districts


  • Regulations avoid certain development outcomes.

New Approach


  • Regulation focused on enabling development aligned with the future policy direction for the city.


  • Regulation focused on what people experience and a built form that supports how people use a place.

Promote Better Outcomes

  • Enable more flexibility to respond to market drivers and site context with fewer defined uses that include a wider variety of activities.

What guides the framework?

The Guidebook’s eight goals for Great Communities form the foundation for the Land Use Bylaw framework.  The goals are:

  1. Promote varied, inclusive and equitable housing options.
  2. Provide opportunities to access goods, services and amenities close by.
  3. Offer opportunities to gather and participate in civic, arts, cultural, and entertainment activities, in both public and private spaces.
  4. Provide varied and inclusive spaces and facilities for recreation, play, and outdoor activities close by.
  5. Ensure spaces are designed for everyone, foster a sense of place, and are connected together—however a person moves.
  6. Ensure natural areas, biodiversity and ecological functions are protected, restored, created and enjoyed.
  7. Enable and support prosperity through diverse economic opportunities at a variety of scales.
  8. Support the use of existing streets, services, and buildings to reduce the need for new infrastructure.

What does this mean for bylaw changes?

5 big moves

  1. outcome based regulations
  2. focus on form
  3. district reform
  4. use reform
  5. parking reform

The following is a report that was commissioned for Administration to provide an overview of the emerging best practice in zoning – the hybrid code.  Thereport provides an overview of what a hybrid code is, why they are important, who is doing them, and what can be learned for The City of Calgary in the consideration of a new land use bylaw.  ​


Stephen Pearce, Coordinator
Planning & Development

For media inquiries, please call 403-828-2954.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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This information has no legal status and cannot be used as an official interpretation of the various bylaws, codes and regulations currently in effect. The City of Calgary accepts no responsibility to persons relying solely on this information. Web pages are updated periodically. ​