Affordable housing is the most frequent social target for land use plans and bylaws. A minimum approach might be to review the land use bylaw to remove impediments to low cost housing alternatives such as basement suites and modular homes by making these permitted or discretionary in more districts. Some municipalities have developed selective incentives to facilitate particular housing objectives. An example from the City of Edmonton is the provision of grants for upgrading secondary suites to increase safe affordable housing options.
Density bonuses could also be used to provide for affordable housing. Where cash is provided in exchange for higher density approval, the funds can be used to directly support the provision of low cost housing. Another approach is to require a developer to provide a fixed number of units in a residential development at below market rents. The difficulty with this approach in Alberta is that there are limited means to ensure that the developer adheres to this low rent provision over time.
AUMA and inclusionary housing
AUMA has also requested as part of the Municipal Government Act review for the province to enable the use of inclusionary housing (also known as inclusionary zoning) as a voluntary tool to provide affordable housing. Inclusionary housing involves requiring a set number of affordable units to be developed as a proportion of the total number of units in each new development within the zone. While this can be a powerful tool to enable affordable housing, there are also concerns that the market value units generally increase in price as developers transfer the cost of developing affordable units on to customers. Proposed amendments respecting affordable housing have yet to be proclaimed.
For more information on promoting affordable housing in your municipality, visit AUMA’s Housing Hub.
Planning for public health
One of the most influential trends in planning is to incorporate methods of improving public health. This practice is not new, having been one of the original instigators in the emergence of modern community planning. However, changes in the way people live and use their environment have led to the creation of innovative new tools to achieve health outcomes through planning. Municipalities have a number of tools available to them for this purpose, including enabling active transportation through pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure, and ensuring that citizens have ample access to green spaces and recreation facilities. As well, consideration is often given to ensuring that developments are compatible with one another and the natural environment to protect human health. For instance, industrial developments are often zoned with a separation from residential developments.
For more information on planning for public health, click on the following links:
- Transport Canada: Active Transportation in Canada - A Resource and Planning Guide
- Alberta Centre for Active Living: Built Environment and Active Transportation
- AUMA Resource: Healthy Alberta Communities
- CDC Paper: Introduction to Planning and Public Health
- The Community Guide: Resources for Local Efforts to Improve Public Health
- World Health Organization: Healthy Urban Planning
Planning for safety and security
The way that municipalities plan has a major impact on the safety and security of their residents. Municipal plans influence the rate of collisions in traffic, the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, resilience against natural disasters, and even crime on the street. Through traffic calming, pedestrian infrastructure, and community design for active transportation, municipalities can drastically improve traffic safety – an important cause given that upwards of 350 people are killed and 18,000 injured on Alberta roads each year. Planning efforts for resiliency can help prepare for natural disasters, ensuring that citizens stay safe. Moreover, design guidelines can actively reduce crime in communities. For instance, requiring more permeable design with frequent doors and windows can prevent crime by increasing natural surveillance on the street.
For more information on planning for safety and security, click on the following links: