Planning and Land Use

How land is developed by step

How land is developed

This page offers a simplified description of the land development process in Medicine Hat. For more details, click the links with each of the steps shown below.

The Municipal Government Act and the Subdivision and Development Regulation legislates a framework for the planning and land development procedure in Alberta.

Planning and development process 
Regional plans and policies

These high-level plans contain policies and/or guidelines which apply to an entire region of the province, and may cover a wide range of topics.

Why is it important?

Prior to developing land in Medicine Hat, the first step is to ensure that such development will comply with the framework within high-level plans. These plans must include:

Regional planning

 Municipal development plan

A requirement of the Municipal Government Act of Alberta, it is the highest level of plan which applies to a single city, town or county. A municipal development plan (MDP) serves as a long-range vision for an entire municipality.

Why is it important?

Prior to developing land in Medicine Hat, the second step is to ensure that such development will comply with the policies of the current municipal development plan.

myMH Master Plan

 Area structure plan

A high level plan that is created by the City of Medicine Hat which guides the land development for a specific area within the city.

Why is it important?

Preparing an area structure plan (ASP) is the next step in developing land. An ASP is a high level long-range planning document for a greenfield area which specifies things like existing topography, development constraints, future land uses, population density, general location of transportation and servicing, and the sequence of development. Additional reports must accompany an ASP.

Area structure plans

 Outline plan

Created by the developer but more detailed than an ASP, an outline plan establishes how a smaller area within the ASP boundary will be developed.

Why is it important?

The next step of land development is the preparation of an outline plan. An outline plan is intended to expand on an approved area structure plan by providing additional details required for full land development. Such details include land use districts, precise location and classification of streets, distribution and size of parks and school sites.

Outline plans

 Land use amendment

A land use amendment is required to assign future land uses (informally referred to as rezoning).

Why is it important?

The Land Use Bylaw (City of Medicine Hat) outlines the rules and regulations for the development of land in Medicine Hat for each district as well as the process of making decisions for development permit applications. After approvals of an area structure plan and outline plan, the developer must apply to amend the Land Use Bylaw in order to rezone the affected parcels of land prior to subdivision and development.


 Subdivision and servicing installation

Subdivision is the process of dividing land parcels into smaller parcels which meet servicing and other regulatory requirements, including new legal descriptions.

Servicing refers to services such as water, sewer and electrical provisions.

Why is it important?

Subdivision of the affected land parcels is the next step in land development. Subdivision is the process of dividing land into smaller parcels and legal creation of new land titles. Subdivided lots are registered with the Province of Alberta and become part of Alberta's legal survey fabric.

Servicing agreements are generally established on a timeframe which overlaps with subdivision. A servicing agreement details the contractual relationship between the developer and the City. It is a condition of subdivision approval to ensure that developments are built to city standards.

Subdivision development  Servicing agreements

Development and construction approvals

Before construction, the next step of land development involves development and construction approvals. Applications for development permits, building permits, as well as electrical, plumbing, gas and mechanical permits are reviewed by city staff. Applications are reviewed for specifics like suitability of location and compliance with all relevant building codes.

Development Permits  Building permits  Trades permits  

Water and sanitary servicing processes

Pre-application process  Post-construction process