+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution 23-15F

Alberta Transportation Highway Signage

November 18, 2015
Expiry Date:
December 1, 2018
Active Status:
Mountain View County
2 - Central
Transportation and Infrastructure
Vote Results:

WHEREAS Alberta Transportation, through legislation, maintains control of all signs within the limits of the right-of-way of any provincial highway; and

WHEREAS the Alberta Transportation development control zone includes 300 metres on either side of a controlled highway, or within 800 metres of a highway intersection; and

WHEREAS The Public Highways Development Act and the Highways Development and Protection Regulation do not allow private or commercial signs to be constructed without a permit in the development control zone; and

WHEREAS Alberta Transportation relies on municipalities to use municipal bylaws to enforce non-compliant signs; and

WHEREAS application of municipal bylaws to address sign enforcement issues is not consistent amongst jurisdictions; and

WHEREAS The Highway Development and Protection Regulation is currently not being applied consistently by Alberta Transportation between urban and rural municipalities when applications for electronic signs are received;

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request that Alberta Transportation enforce third party sign regulations within the development control zone;

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request that Alberta Transportation provide all municipalities with the sole authority to permit and regulate electronic signs that are within the Alberta Transportation development control zone.

Member Background:

Alberta Transportation and municipalities share jurisdiction to regulate privately owned signs within the development control zone along rural highways. The Public Highway Development Act and the Highway Development and Protection Regulation sets out Alberta Transportation’s requirements for development while the land use bylaw guides and regulates development within municipalities.

Alberta Transportation does not enforce illegal signs within the development control zones of controlled rural provincial highways.

Alberta Transportation has not treated urban sign approvals consistently with rural sign requests.  For example, on the Queen Elizabeth Highway 2, Alberta Transportation has implied consent for electronic signs within the development control zone in urban municipalities, but has refused permit requests within rural jurisdictions.  Individual municipalities should have the authority to determine what types of signs and the number of signs that is appropriate for their municipality.

No changes are being requested to the rules and regulations regarding other types of signs or developments within the Alberta Transportation development control zone.


General Provisions for Installing Private Signs Within the highway Right-of-Way


Public Highways Development Act


Highways Development and Protection Regulation


General Instructions for Sign Installation Near a Provincial Highway


RMA Background:

The AAMDC has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.

Government Response:

Transportation: Alberta Transportation has worked with stakeholders on the management of roadside signs to find a balance between protection of the public’s interest along provincial highways, supporting rural businesses, and reflecting the desires of local governments. This complex issue cannot be solved quickly, and the Government of Alberta (GOA) is not prepared to support this resolution’s recommendation without wider consultation with all parties involved.

Any future changes to the management of roadside signs will be based on a plan treating all Albertans fairly and equitably.

Regarding management of electronic message signs, the GOA will continue to follow a cautious path, only allowing electronic message signs in places that limit the distraction to drivers.


The Government of Alberta response to this resolution indicates that there is limited interest in addressing municipal concerns with unlicensed third-party signage within development zones. RMA hopes that the Government of Alberta reviews these regulations to ensure they properly balance the interests of businesses, municipalities and road users and would look forward to participating in such a process. At a recent meeting with RMA, the Minister of Transportation committed to examining the issue in more detail and following up with RMA on possible solutions.

In April 2018, RMA and Alberta Transportation staff met to discuss the highway signage issue further. RMA and Alberta Transportation plan to collaborate in developing solutions to this issue in the spring of 2018. Based on this commitment from Alberta Transportation, this resolution is assigned a status of Accepted in Principle, and the RMA looks forward to collaborating on the issue with Alberta Transportation.

Provincial Ministries:
Back to Resolutions Database