+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution 6-16S

Creating a Residential Exemption to Roadside Development Permits

February 22, 2016
Expiry Date:
April 1, 2019
Active Status:
Lac Ste Anne County
3 - Pembina River
Transportation and Infrastructure
Vote Results:

WHEREAS the Highway Development and Protection Act and the Highway Development Protection Regulations requires an Alberta Transportation road side development permit for all development within 300 metres of a controlled highway, or 800 metres from the centre point of an intersection of a controlled highway and another highway or public road; and

WHEREAS Alberta Transportation requires review regarding development involving single family homes in previously approved subdivisions, creating a duplication of work by Alberta Transportation; and

WHEREAS this redundant review process is delaying development, in some cases upwards of 30+ days, despite review by Alberta Transportation of all traffic impact assessments (TIA) and studies regarding the approved subdivision at the initial development application stage; and

WHEREAS this redundancy has resulted in the unnecessary delay of development approvals, presenting challenges during an already short building season;

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request the Government of Alberta to amend legislation and/or regulations, including the Highway Development Act and the Highway Development and Protection Regulations, to exempt the erection of fences, primary single family residences and associated residential property upgrades such as accessory buildings, under 200 square feet, and pools in subdivisions that have already been approved by Alberta Transportation from requiring roadside development permits in residential multi parcel subdivisions that have received Alberta Transportation approval at subdivision stage.

Member Background:

The Highways Development Protection Regulation states:


1   In this Regulation,

(c)      “development” means

(i)      the placing, construction or erection of a building, structure, fixture, road (other than a physical means of access), airstrip, well, dugout, excavation or other undertaking, installation or object, whether it is on, above or below ground,

(ii)      the enlargement, extension, replacement, renovation or repair of a development referred to in sub clause (i), and

(iii)      a change to the original purpose or use of a development referred to in sub clause (i) on the parcel of land containing the development that may cause an intensification of the type or volume of vehicles that may

(A)      enter onto the provincial highway from that parcel, or

(B)      exit from the provincial highway onto that parcel;

(g)      “physical means of access” means

 (i)      the roadway portion of a highway, road or street that is under the direction, control and management of a municipality and provides vehicle access to a provincial highway, and

 (ii)      any other means of access that provides vehicle access between a parcel of land and a provincial highway;

 (h)      “sign” means any device that is used for conveying information and is affixed to the ground or is attached to or painted on a building, structure or fixture that is affixed to the ground;

 (i)      “utility line” means

 (i)       an electric transmission line, (ii)    an electric distribution line,

(iii)      a pipeline other than a pipeline to which the Pipeline Act applies, and

 (iv)      a drainage ditch, irrigation canal or ditch;

(j)    “vegetation” means a tree, hedge or shrub;


Permit required for development, display of equipment

4(1)  No person shall, without a permit, commence a development or display equipment or cause a development to be commenced or equipment to be displayed,

 (a)      in the case of a freeway,

 (i)      within the right of way or within 300 metres beyond the limit of the freeway, or

 (ii)      within 800 metres from the centre point of the intersection of the freeway and another highway,

 (b)      in the case of a multi-lane provincial highway other than a freeway,

 (i)      within the right of way or within 300 metres beyond the limit of the highway, or

 (ii)      within 800 metres from the centre point of the intersection of the highway and another highway,

 (c)      in the case of a major provincial highway,

 (i)      within the right of way or within 300 metres beyond the limit of the highway, or

 (ii)      within 800 metres from the centre point of the intersection of the highway and another highway,


 (d)      in the case of a minor provincial highway,

(i)      within the right of way or within 150 metres beyond the limit of the highway, or

 (ii)    within 400 metres from the centre point of the intersection of the highway and another highway that is not a freeway, a multi-lane provincial highway or a major provincial highway.

 (2)  Subsection (1) does not apply to a wire fence that is located or to be located outside the right of way of the highway.

This requirement has been in the regulations since the Act’s predecessor way back in the 1960’s for any development along provincial highways.

This means that Alberta Transportation has approved the majority of all multi parcel subdivisions along provincial highways for over 50 years. At each subdivision Alberta Transportation would have required the developer or the municipality to implement any upgrades deemed appropriate to meet the needs of the provincial network.  As  such  requiring  each  individual  lot  owner  to  then  submit  for  a  permit  is redundant. It is also highly unreasonable that in the event an upgrade is needed a single family lot owner would be on the hook and not the developer who made the entire subdivision.

Administratively, it would also be next to impossible to empirically state that a single family residence was the sole reason for any type of intersection or road upgrade.

By creating this amendment or allowing municipalities to enter an agreement with Alberta Transportation this would expedite permit processing times and reduce workloads for all municipal governments as well as the limited Alberta Transportation employees reviewing these permits.

In speaking with multiple municipalities across the province this is an issue from the capital region to the rural as for the most part every municipality in the province is impacted by be these regulations. This is both a rural and urban issue.

RMA Background:

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

Government Response:

Transportation: Alberta Transportation (AT) maintains the integrity of the provincial highway system by ensuring the safety of the travelling public and managing activities occurring near the highway network. Protection of the public interest is the primary principle behind the development and planning functions.

Development control ensures the future needs of the provincial highway system are protected. The protection mechanism involves subdivision referral and roadside development permits. The roadside development permit is required pursuant to the Highways Development and Protection Act (HDPA), and the subdivision referral is pursuant to the Subdivision and Development Regulation (SDR), under the Municipal Government Act.

Although the subdivision and development approval processes may seem redundant, we believe it is not appropriate to rely on the subdivision approval for an exemption from the roadside development permit for the following reasons:

  1. AT is a referral agency, not a subdivision authority, and not all subdivision applications are referred to the ministry. Subdivision applications (outside a city) are referred to AT only when they are located within the referral distance limits identified in section 5(5)(d) of the SDR, specifically:
    • Within 800 metres of the centre line of a highway right-of-way where the speed limit is 80 kilometres per hour or greater; or
  • When adjacent, or contiguous, to a highway where the speed limit is less than 80 kilometres per hour.

Where the speed limit of the highway is less than 80 kilometres per hour, subdivisions not adjacent to the highway, or that meet certain conditions under Section 14 the SDR, are not referred to AT.

  1. AT does not have input into land use within subdivision referral limits or the highway development control zone. At the municipality’s discretion, land can be rezoned without the ministry’s knowledge.
  1. Subdivision may occur in advance of the development, while highway plans may change over time. Anticipated traffic impacts need to be verified at the development stage.
  1. Pursuant to the HDPA, developments within the highway development control zone, identified as 300 metres from the highway boundary or 800 metres from the centre point of a highway and a public road intersection, require AT’s approval. A roadside development permit is issued within this control zone when there are conditions the applicant needs to follow.

The existing process allows for some level of flexibility. If there are no circumstances producing the need for conditions on the proposed development, then a permit is not required. This is to be determined on a case-by-case basis by ministry staff.

AT recognizes the importance of the development application review process, and is committed to reviewing applications in a timely fashion so as to prevent unnecessary delays. We believe the subdivision referral and development approval processes allow the ministry to review and assess the development impacts to the highway plans and the safety of the travelling public.

Moving forward, the process can be further streamlined by:

  • ongoing communication between municipalities and AT to help ensure municipal and ministry plans are compatible with each other; and
  • speeding up review time by revising the Traffic Impact Assessment guideline to clarify any requirements and improve the quality of the report.

The Government of Alberta response indicates that the need for roadside development permits on parcels of land that have already been approved at the subdivision stage is necessary to ensure Alberta Transportation is apprised of development in the proximity of roads that may otherwise not be adequately communicated due to requirements in existing legislation. While the AAMDC appreciates Alberta Transportation’s willingness to attempt to streamline the permitting process, the unwillingness of the Ministry to consider an exemption results in this resolution being assigned a status of Intent Not Met.

Provincial Ministries:
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