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Growth Management Strategies


What is it?

A Growth Management Strategy is a planning document that aligns other plans, policies, and strategies to guide the appropriate growth of the municipality. It describes policy directives that achieve the municipality’s development vision for its future. Growth Management Strategies evaluate existing infrastructure, such as roads and wastewater servicing, and identify the potential locations for new or expanded infrastructure should growth exceed current infrastructure capacity.

How can municipalities use it?

Municipalities can use a Growth Management Strategy to direct the visions and objectives set forth in the Municipal Development Plan and other high order plans and policies. Two or more munis may also enter into a joint growth management plan. 

Growth Management Strategies identify the most appropriate areas to accommodate projected growth, and can direct growth away from areas that are important to the natural infrastructure system. This can help to ensure the municipality continues to receive the necessary benefits from the natural infrastructure system after periods of growth. Growth management initiatives and programs, such as Transfer of Development Credit programs and growth boundaries are outlined in the Growth Management Strategies.

What are the advantages?

Growth Management Strategies have the following advantages:

  • Guides future development decisions to ensure growth occurs in appropriate areas that minimize impact to the natural infrastructure system

  • Coordinates other plans and policies toward the goal of appropriate growth management

  • Engages and educates community members on the plans for growth

What should you watch out for?

No tool is a silver bullet. When developing Growth Management Strategies, municipalities should consider the following:

  • Must align multiple plans, policies, and programs

  • Likely involves decisions being made in adjacent jurisdictions

  • Need clear sense of how the plan will lead to implementation

  • Cannot exist alone, needs to connect to other plans both above and below

  • Must have community and municipal staff buy-in

How can it help maintain natural infrastructure?

Growth Management Strategies help to maintain the natural infrastructure system by providing guidance to direct growth and development away from the vulnerable parts of the natural infrastructure system. This reduces the destruction or damage of natural infrastructure assets that results from development, and helps to ensure the system maintains function despite increased human pressure in the municipality.


Calgary Metropolitan Region Board – The Calgary Metropolitan Region Board (CMRB) consists of representatives from 10 municipalities mandated by teh Province to develop a long term plan for managed, sustainable growth in the Calgary Region. 

Edmonton Capital Region Board – As a regional growth management board, the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board (EMRB) is mandated by the Province to implement the region's 30-year Growth Plan and to create a regional servicing plan.

How We Grow, Cochrane – How We Grow provides an overview of how the Town of Cochrane manages growth to achieve the vision and directives outlined in their Sustainability Plan and Municipal Development Plan.

The Lethbridge Integrated Growth Management Strategy - The Integrated Growth Management Strategy is a detailed spatial logic for land use planning, environmental and resource protection, and investments in public infrastructure.

Calgary Metropolitan Plan - The CMP was created by the now-defunct Calgary Regional Partnership, and was intended to be a guide for sustainable growth in the Calgary region.

Rocky View 2060 Growth Management Strategy – Rocky View County’s 2009 land-use vision based on principles of sustainability, Smart Growth, and triple-bottom-line decision-making.

Rocky View County Rural Growth Management – A discussion paper and revision proposal for Rocky View County’s 2009 Growth Management Strategy

Municipal Powers, Land Use Planning, and the Environment: Understanding the Public’s Role – Created by the Environmental Law Centre, this paper explores a municipality’s role in the regulation and management of natural areas including wetlands, air and water quality, toxic substances, redevelopment of contaminated lands, water conservation, wildlife, and other aspects of the environment within the municipality. This document includes much information on growth planning.

Ottawa Greenspace Master Plan: Strategies for Ottawa’s Urban Greenspaces - The purpose of this document is to express Council’s vision for greenspace in the urban area and set policies for how this vision can be pursued. This document explains how it is related to Ottawa’s growth management plans.

Green Bylaws Toolkit: for conserving sensitive ecosystems and green infrastructure – This document is an important resource for understanding how municipalities can safeguard the environment, from a regional to a site level. It clearly explains each tool, and provides case studies and examples of bylaws that are in use in British Columbia. A growth strategy is recommended as a good approach to protecting sensitive ecosystems.

Did we miss something?

If you know of a resource that should be on this list - or your municipality has a sample or case that should be here, please let us know!

Thanks for helping us out!

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