Planning & Development

If you require more information about permits or want to know the setbacks they can all be accessed below.

Planning and Development (P&D) plays a central role in the change and development of our community by establishing and administering Clear Hills County’s land use  Land Use Planning Framework P&D aims to ensure orderly, economical and beneficial development, and to maintain and improve the quality of Clear Hills County’s physical environment through the application of tools and services under the land use planning framework. The scope of P&D services include:

Land Use and Sustainability Planning involves the creation and administration of long-term, community vision plans, such as statutory plans (e.g., Municipal Development Plan, Intermunicipal Development Plans and Area Structure Plans), and the Land Use Bylaw, which together provide direction and the regulatory mechanism for implementing the desired change.

This includes processing and issuing decisions on development permit and subdivision applications, based on approved plans, the Land Use Bylaw, and other applicable municipal and provincial legislation.

Development Control involves the use of tools such as Development Agreements, inspections and Land Use Bylaw enforcement mechanisms to achieve desirable development outcomes.

Examples of special projects undertaken though P&D include Rural Addressing and special studies (e.g., Senior Housing Needs Assessment).

These are services provided to the public for a fee outside the core P&D services (e.g., Industry Approvals).

Clear Hills County works closely with the Mackenzie Municipal Services Agency to implement its land use planning framework.

New/On Going Projects

The County will be developing Intermunicipal Development Plans (IDPs) with the Municipal District of Fairview No. 136, the Municipal District of Peace No. 135, and the Village of Hines Creek in 2019. Details on these projects will be provided once initiated.

General inquires about Planning and Development can be directed to Corporate Services Clerk or the Corporate Services Manager at Clear Hills County, by phone (780) 685-3925 or by email at:

Shelby Giesbrecht:

Clear Hills County derives its authority to make decisions on land use planning matters from the Government of Alberta though provincial legislation and regulations, including the Municipal Government Act (MGA), the Alberta Land Stewardship Act (ALSA) and the Subdivision and Development Regulation, that delegate certain powers and authority to municipalities. Clear Hills County Land Use Framework.

Together with the Province’s MGA, ALSA, Land Use Policies and Subdivision and Development Regulation, and Clear Hills County’s statutory plans, Land Use Bylaw, Policies, and other documents, the land use planning framework serves as a guide for planning, development and subdivision within Clear Hills County. Following is a description of and link to these documents. Some of Clear Hills County’s documents represent Office Consolidations that incorporate the original documents and subsequent amendments approved by Council by bylaw. In case of uncertainty, the reader is advised to consult the original documents, available at Clear Hills County’s Municipal Office in Worsley.

The Municipal Government Act is the key provincial legislation from which Clear Hills County derives its authority to undertake planning and development. The MGA establishes the powers and responsibilities of Council and administration in creating policies, plans and bylaws to regulate land use and development within their municipality, to ensure orderly physical, environmental and economical beneficial development. Specifically, the MGA allows a municipality to create four (4) types of statutory plans—namely, Municipal Development Plan (MDP), Intermunicipal Development Plan (IDP), Area Structure Plan (ASP) and Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP)—and the Land Use Bylaw. These provide a framework for coordinated land use planning and decision-making. The MGA also provides municipalities with enforcement mechanisms to ensure conformity between development and approved plans and bylaws.

The Alberta Land Stewardship Act (ALSA) is a 2009 provincial legislation that establishes a regional approach to land use planning through the implementation of the Alberta Land-use Framework (LUF). It aims to achieve Alberta’s long-term economic, social and environmental goals through the efficient management of public and private lands and natural resources. The ALSA divides up the province into seven “land-use regions”, based on the LUF, which correspond to Alberta’s major watersheds, and contemplates a regional plan for each region. Clear Hills County is located within the Upper Peace Region. Once adopted, the Upper Peace Regional Plan will provide high-level policy direction for land use planning and decision-making within Clear Hills County.

The province’s Land Use Policies were created in 1996 under the MGA to guide municipalities in harmonizing provincial and municipal policy initiatives at the local land use planning level. The policies establish high-level principles, such as a collaborative approach to addressing planning issues, for better land use planning. The Provincial Land Use Policies will be replaced by regional plans once in effect.

Enacted in 2002 and amended in 2017, the Subdivision and Development Regulation outlines a number of requirements, procedures and guidelines for the referral and decision-making process on subdivision applications in Alberta, in addition to the requirements of the MGA. The Subdivision and Development Regulation prescribes the following setback distances:

  • 100 metres from gas and oil wells;
  • 1.5 kilometres from sour gas wells and facilities (depending on the level of the sour gas facility and the intensity of the proposed use);
  • 300 metres from the working area of a wastewater treatment plant;
  • 300 metres from the disposal area of an operating or non-operating landfill, or the working area of an operating storage site; and
  • 450 metres from the working area of an operating landfill, the working or disposal area of a non-operating hazardous waste management facility or the working area or disposal area of an operating hazardous waste management facility.

An applicant for subdivision or development permit (except when the proposed building is less than 47 square metres) is also required by the Subdivision and Development Regulation to supply information regarding abandoned oil and gas wells on the subject parcel. If an abandoned well is identified during the application process, Alberta Energy Regulator Directive 079 (Surface Development in Proximity to Abandoned Wells) prescribes minimum setbacks and may require the applicant to contact the licensee of record.

An Intermunicipal Development Plan (IDP) is a statutory plan prepared collaboratively between two (or more) municipalities to provide direction for the future development of the lands of mutual importance. An IDP serves as a cooperative framework for efficient land use planning and development decision-making at the interface between municipal boundaries. IDPs are adopted by the municipalities’ party to them through marching municipal bylaws, and contain policies that address land use, environmental matters, transportation, economic development, and intermunicipal infrastructure, services and programs, as well as procedures for administering and amending the plan. All IDPs will have to be consistent with the ALSA Regional Plans of the Provincial Land Use Framework, once those are completed.

Clear Hills County shares boundaries with five municipalities, one urban and four rural. Clear Hills County’s urban neighbour is the Village of Hines Creek, while its rural neighbours include: Municipal District of Peace No. 135, Municipal District of Fairview No. 136, County of Northern Lights and Saddle Hills County. Previously, IDPs were not required under the MGA; they were only developed when neighbouring municipalities agreed to adopt one. However, under the amended MGA, IDPs are now mandatory for all municipalities that share a common boundary, unless they are part of a growth region, or have been granted an exemption from the requirement of adopting an IDP by the Minster of Municipal Affairs.

To comply with the MGA, Clear Hills County is currently working on several IDPs with some of its neighbours. Opportunities for public input will be provided in the process of developing these IDPs. The IDPs will also be made available publicly and online once completed and adopted by Council.

Bylaw No. 243-19 CHC MDP

Clear Hills County developed a new Municipal Development Plan (MDP) to replace the old MDP that was adopted in 2000. The MDP has become the primary planning policy document for Clear Hills County. The Plan will guide growth and development in Clear Hills County by defining the vision, principles, goals, and policies of the County. The MDP will provide clear direction to assist the County’s Council, the Development Authority, Municipal Planning Commission and the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board in making land use decisions to ensure orderly, efficient and economically sound development within the County. The MDP will address future land use, proposals for future development, co‐ordination with adjacent municipalities, infrastructure, municipal services and facilities, transportation, school and municipal reserves, environmental, social and economic policy decisions in a manner that reflects the municipality’s vision. The Plan will also contain policies to protect Clear Hills County’s agricultural land base, rural character, and unique natural features, while promoting its tourism and development potential.

Area Structure Plans provide a framework for future subdivision and development of land, resulting in the creation of new neighbourhoods or commercial areas. They identify where residential, commercial, institutional and industrial development will be located and how services such as water, electricity, sewer systems, telecommunications, schools, fire protection and parks will be provided. ASPs are either prepared by the County or required from a developer in advance of a subdivision proposal. Currently, the County has the following ASPs:

Land Use Bylaw No. 189-16 (Consolidated 2016)

The Land Use Bylaw can be described as the “rule book” for development within Clear Hills County. It regulates the development of land and buildings on a site-specific basis, based on the policy directions set by statutory plans. The LUB defines what constitutes development (or land use); divides up the municipality into land use districts and lists the land uses allowed in each district. It also separates all the land uses enabled in each district into permitted and discretionary uses; and sets the development standards (e.g., size of land and buildings, building heights, setbacks and site coverage) for each land use district. The LUB also outlines the requirements for a development permit application and timelines for decision; the process for appealing a development permit decision; and the process for amending the Land Use Bylaw.

Following is the list of amendments to the Land Use Bylaw that have been passed by Council but have not yet been incorporated into the consolidated Land Use Bylaw:

Beyond Borders Policy 7004

Amending the Land Use Bylaw

A person may apply to amend the Land Use Bylaw, in writing, to the Development Officer by completing Land Use Bylaw Amendment Application Form and submitting an application fee as established by Council. All applications to amend the Bylaw shall include the following:

  • A certificate of title for the subject property;
  • An indication of the applicant’s interest in the subject property;
  • A statement of the proposed land use change(s);
  • Reasons in support of the amendment; and
  • Any supporting drawings subject to the satisfaction of the Development Officer

All amendments to the Land Use Bylaw shall be made in conformity with the provisions of the MGA and any applicable statutory plans. Clear Hills County may, at any time, also initiate an amendment to the Land Use Bylaw.

Policies, Standards and Other Documents

In addition to the provincial legislation, statutory plans and the Land Use Bylaw, Clear Hills County has policies, studies and other documents that may be used when considering applications for development permit and subdivision. They include:


Adopted by Council in 2018, the Public Participation Policy outlines the County’s approach to public participation. It defines the role of Council and Administration in informing and engaging stakeholders in the municipal decision-making process.


The Approach Construction and Maintenance Policy provides guidelines for the development of access from municipal roads to private property. The policy authorizes the County to, at the request of land owners, supply every quarter section with one approach per ½ mile of road for field access and, as a condition of development or subdivision approvals, supply every residence with one approach on an existing County road for residential access.


The Hamlet Development Policy addresses the responsibilities of the County and the Developers when dealing with land sales of County-owned lands in the hamlets that have not been subdivided into lots. The policy authorizes the County to absorb costs, including but not limited to survey, subdivision application fees, rezoning fees, and land title registration fees, for single and multi-lot subdivision of lands sold by the County within those portions of the hamlets that are not subdivided into lots already. It also outlines the role of private developers, including the requirement to enter into a Developer’s Agreement with the County for the purchase of the land and to commit to develop the land within two years, based on the types of developments defined under section 2.2 of the Policy.

The hierarchy of documents within Clear Hills County’s land use planning framework is established by the MGA. The MGA requires that each level is consistent with the level above and below it, and that the policies or regulations within planning document(s) at each level may be implemented by those below them in the decision-making process. The MGA provides the legislative authority for municipal land use planning and decision-making, while the ALSA regional plan (or Land Use Policies in their absence) provides broad-based policy directions and principles for municipal land use planning, which are effected through statutory plans and bylaws. The statutory plans provide future direction for the development and use of lands at the fringe areas of Clear Hills County’s boundaries (IDPs) or within the whole municipality (MDP) or smaller areas of the County in greater detail (ASPs). The LUB regulates the use and development of land based on the policy directions of statutory plans, while the Subdivision and Development Regulation regulates subdivision planning in conjunction with the MGA, applicable statutory plans, and the Land Use Bylaw. The polices, guidelines and other documents contain additional information or specific requirements outside statutory plans and the LUB documents that are considered for certain types of development permit and subdivision applications. Where there is a conflict or inconsistency between a higher-level planning document and a lower-level planning document, the higher-level planning document prevails to the extent of the conflict or inconsistency.

Development and Subdivision Application Process

Unless exempted by the Land Use Bylaw or other legislation, all developments within Clear Hills County require a development permit. A development permit provides legal authorization for a development; having it protects the property owner or renter/leasee against future legal or transactional issues. Development permits must be obtained prior to undertaking a development. Currently, a Development Permit is required for all residential, commercial and industrial development. Farm related development must conform to the requirements of the Land Use Bylaw, but does not require a Development Permit. The County is one of only a handful of Municipalities that promote agricultural growth by not charging a fee for farm development.

The process of applying for a development permit, including all the application information, documents required and the application form, are contained in the Development Permit Application Package

To apply for a development permit, please download and complete the Development Permit Application Form and submit it to Clear Hills County Office along with the appropriate fee, as passed by Council. Current development permit fees are free for agriculture residential and commercial developments. Industrial permit fees is $100.00 per $100,000.00 of construction cost, which are some of the lowest in the province of Alberta. If the proposed development is not enabled in the district where your site is located, you must first apply for an amendment to the Land Use Bylaw, to enable the type of development you want and, if successful, apply for a development permit. To apply for a Land Use Bylaw Amendment, use the Land Use Bylaw Amendment Application Form.

Unless extended by a written agreement between the Development Authority and the applicant, the Development Authority has 40 days to make a decision on a development permit application from the date the applicant is issued a Notice of Complete Application. To ensure timely processing of applications, it is important for applicants to submit a complete application and also provide any additional information, if required by the Development Authority during the review process. Contact (780) 685-3925 or by email at prior to submitting an application, if you have any questions about completing the application form.

A development permit may include conditions, such as a requirement for the applicant to enter into a Development Agreement with the municipality to perform a number of tasks related to the approved development, and/or obtain additional permits/ licenses from external organizations before commencing or operating their development. Permits/licenses from external agencies may include building, fire, mechanical/electrical, plumbing and gas permits from an accredited Safety Codes Agency and/or license from a federal or provincial agency (e.g., Cannabis Store License from AGLC to operate a cannabis retail facility). Click Accredited Safety Codes Agencies  for the list of companies that are authorized to issue permits for building, electrical, plumbing, sewage and heating for residents and developers within Clear Hills County.

In addition to permits/licenses, inspections may also be conducted by Clear Hills County Office, provincial authorities or external agencies to verify that the completed development complies with applicable legislation, standards or conditions of the approved permit or license. These inspections may include fire, safety codes and health inspections.

Subdivision is the process of dividing a single parcel of land into two or more parcels, each with a separate Certificate of Title. A registered land or property owner (or their authorized agent) wishing to create two or more lots from a single parcel of land must obtain a subdivision approval prior to subdividing the land. The Mackenzie Municipal Services Agency (MMSA) is the Subdivision Authority for Clear Hills County. Applicants for subdivision can download the application package, which include the Subdivision Application Guidelines and Application Form, which are available on the MMSA website.

Subdivision planning within Clear Hills County is guided by the MGA, the Subdivision Authority Bylaw (which designates MMSA as the subdivision authority for Clear Hills County), the Subdivision and Development Regulation, the Land Use Bylaw, any applicable statutory plans, policies, other bylaws, standards and regulations.

Decisions of the Development Authority and Subdivision Authority may be appealed to the Development Appeal Board, the Mackenzie Intermunicipal Subdivision Appeal Board or the Municipal Government Board (MGB). Clear Hills County’s Development Appeal Board deals with appeals regarding development permit decisions and stop orders issued by the Development Authority, while the Mackenzie Intermunicipal Subdivision Appeal Board deal with Subdivision Authority decisions that are outside the jurisdiction of the MGB, as per section 687(2) of the MGA. The MGB only hears subdivision appeals where the land that is the subject of the appeal is:

  • within Alberta’s Green Area;
  • ‘adjacent’ to or contains a Body of Water; (‘Adjacent’ means contiguous or would be contiguous if not for a railway, road, utility right of way or reserve land).
  • adjacent to or contains (either partially or wholly) land identified on the Listing of Historic Resources or public land set aside for use as historic resources.
  • within the following distances:
  • 1600 metres of a Provincial Highway;
  • 450 metres of a Hazardous Waste Management Facility;
  • 450 metres of the working area of an operating Landfill;
  • 300 metres of the disposal area of any Landfill;
  • 300 metres of a Waste water Treatment Plant; or
  • 300 metres of the working area of a Non-Hazardous Waste Storage Site.

Clear Hills County’s Development Appeal Board, the Mackenzie Intermunicipal Subdivision Appeal Board and the Municipal Government Board are impartial, quasi-judicial bodies that make independent decisions on appeal cases before them, strictly based on the evidence presented to them at a hearing, and in accordance with the MGA, other provincial legislation, Clear Hills County’s Development Appeal Board Bylaw and any other applicable municipal legislation. The process for appealing a decision of the Development or Subdivision Authority, including the timelines for filing an appeal, are outlined in the Development Permit Application Package and the Subdivision Application Guidelines, respectively. Clear Hills County’s Development Appeal Board Bylaw outlines the duties, powers and functions of the Appeal Board, including the timelines for organizing an appeal hearing and making a decision. The Development Appeal Board Hearing Procedures establishes procedures for the conduct of hearings on matters of development appeal. Anyone wishing to appeal development permit decisions and stop orders must complete the Development Appeal Form and submit it to the Clerk of the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board at Clear Hills County Office within 21 days from the date of the decision or order of the Development Authority. The subdivision appeal information is included in the Subdivision Authority’s decision letter.


The Development Department controls the development of residences, businesses, subdivisions, etc. throughout the County. Contact them before you start to develop or add to your current residence or business.

The Mackenzie Municipal Services Agency is our Subdivision AuthorityIf you have any questions regarding the subdivision process, please call them at 780-338-3862.