Caution | State of local emergency declared

Get Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates and information on closures, cancellations and service changes.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates View our closures and service changes

Toward a Renewed Land Use Bylaw

On 17 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, to return at the same time that the Guidebook is being proposed by Council.  A Framework for a Renewed Land Use Bylaw & Outline for New Districts​.

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.  ​

Implementation and timing

Since new districts will be created based on desired future outcomes, a local area plan would be the vehicle that would apply the Urban Form Categories and the Bylaw districts on the ground. For communities without the benefit of a local area plan, the current land use districts and regulations in Land Use Bylaw 1P2007 will continue to be in force until such time that a new plan is adopted. To develop these districts with stakeholder involvement, Administration is proposing a phased approach.

Phase 1: Priority Focus

November 2019-Q1 2021

  • Work on a new Limited scale Neighbourhood Housing district that would accommodate inclusive and equitable choices for everyone throughout communities.
    • Community education and awareness on new planning system including Guidebook for Great Communities and what that means for a renewed Land Use Bylaw​
    • Discussions on how the built forms can be achieved while enabling the goals and principles of the Guidebook
    • Output – New district that could be implemented across developed areas (with potential to expand to developing areas)
    • Output – Implementation options for when/how to apply new district
    • Output – How-to-Guide that will outline design intent and help to provide guidance when relaxations are requested
    • Work on administrative sections for Volume B.
  • Work on Parking reform
    • Structure to apply to new districts
  • Work on Use reform
    • Structure to apply to new districts

Phase 2a: Potential Next Steps - Housing Districts

April 2020-Q3 2021

  • Work on remaining Neighbourhood Housing districts
    • Potential to look at ways to build off the Limited scale Neighbourhood Housing district through the use of modifiers and customizations.
    • Output – new district(s)/modified district(s) to be implemented through the local area plans.

Phase 2b: Potential Next Steps - Remaining Districts​

Mid 2021 - Late 2021

  • Begin work on Neighbourhood Commercial districts
    • Potential to look at ways to build off the Limited scale Neighbourhood Housing district through the use of modifiers and customizations
    • Output – new district(s)/modified to be implemented through the local area plans
  • Begin work on Industrial districts and Parks Civic and Recreation districts.
    • Potential to look at ways to build off the Limited scale Neighbourhood Housing district through the use of modiers and customizations.
    • Output - new district(s)/modied district(s) to be implemented through the local area plans
  • Begin work on Regional Campus district

Phase 3: Long term work

2022 and beyond

  • Consideration for new permit processes
  • Consideration for redesignations in developing areas
  • Consideration to combine all Guidebooks
  • Consideration for ongoing education and awareness​

What does this mean for low density districts?

Over the past year, Administration has recognized the gap between policy and regulation regarding low density forms of infill development, which have dominated a number of discussions within communities and amongst Council.

In this time, Council has been dealing with a number of redesignation applications to accommodate rowhouse development, typically accommodated under the Residential – Grade Oriented Infill (R-CG) District. While the Municipal Development Plan encourages rowhouse forms throughout all low density areas, there is currently only one land use district that allows this form in a low density context (within developed areas). As such, this often adds barriers to achieving redevelopment within communities as it requires an applicant-initiated application for redesignation.

On 2018 September 24, Council voted to remove any reference to R-CG from the Multi-Residential Guidelines and direct that Administration no longer apply the Multi-Residential Guidelines to the R-CG District. This decision was made based on the discussion at Council that rowhouse development is considered a low-density form of redevelopment and should be considered appropriate throughout all communities in Calgary. Further, Calgary Planning Commission has moved applications for redesignation to R-CG to the consent agenda for all of Commission’s meetings as the planning rationale for each redesignation is similar between applications and Commission acknowledges that the district sufficiently addresses design concerns for this form of low density redevelopment. As such, Administration has been reviewing redesignation requests on an application-by-application basis, assessing the merits of each application to determine a recommendation for either approval or refusal. It is important to note that some communities have undergone city initiated redesignations to R-CG, to implement new local area plans, resulting in over 1,000 parcels city-wide with this designation. Since the districts approval by Council in 2014, there have been 115 owner-initiated land use redesignation applications.​


Lisa Kahn, Coordinator
Planning & Development

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

​ ​​​

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. ​