Town wins award for Planning Excellence

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Friday, July 20, 2018

Innovative Land Use Bylaw wins award for Planning Excellence

The Town of High River received a national Award of Merit for planning excellence on July 20 at the Canadian Institute of Planners and Manitoba Professional Planners Institute National Conference in Winnipeg for the Town’s creative and innovative 2017 Land Use Bylaw.

The award for Planning Excellence in the category of Rural/Small Town Planning was presented to Khalid Mohammed, manager of planning and development services for High River. The award also recognized the Town’s partner for the development of the Land Use Bylaw, McElhanney Consulting Services Ltd.

“We are extremely honoured and excited to receive this award, as it illustrates that High River is developing exemplary resources that contribute to the community and to the planning profession,” says Mohammed. “Over the last few years, High River has been recognized more and more as a place for innovation, and now that is being shown on a national stage.”

The Town of High River adopted its new Land Use Bylaw in April 2017, replacing the former Bylaw that was adopted in 1980. This groundbreaking bylaw consolidated the Town’s previous 41 land use districts into six and serves as the Town’s rulebook to guide all future development in High River.

“In the years since the Alberta floods, High River has utilized a ‘build it back better’ mentality and made several innovative improvements,” says Mayor Craig Snodgrass. “These include wide, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, naturalized parks and green spaces and incorporating flood mitigation into existing pedestrian and cycling pathway systems for beautification and functionality.”

The new bylaw offers more flexibility and collaboration between the Town, developers and High River citizens and this will help the Town build communities that better serve the needs of its people.

“Improvements have been made that remove parking requirements for new developments and eliminate the need for a lengthy and restrictive approval process for changes of use, such as secondary suites,” says Mohammed.

The Town’s Planning and Development Services Division partnered with McElhanney Consulting Services Ltd., in early 2016 to perform a major review of the existing Land Use Bylaw. The new version is more permissive rather than prescriptive, and offers a strong digital component to make viewing and searching the document simpler.

The awards jury commended the High River Land Use Bylaw as one of the first applications of transect planning to a regulatory code in a small-town context in Canada. The Bylaw was recognized for its user-friendly layout and the jury was also impressed with the companion web-based tools the Town offers for residents and potential development proponents.

To learn more about the Town’s Land Use Bylaw, please visit


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