Doing Business in Lacombe County

Lacombe County Development Process

(NOTE - this is a summary condensed from “Multi-Lot Residential Development Proposals: A Guide to the Approval Process”, which is available from the County Planning Department)

County policy generally restricts multi-lot residential development only to areas that have been designated for such use in an area structure plan or other plan initiated and approved by County Council.  Areas where multi-lot residential development may currently be considered are shown on Map 2 in the County’s Municipal Development Plan, a copy of which is included in Appendix A of this Guide.

Some of these development areas already have plans in place to help you develop your proposal. See the References section at the end of this document.

Pre-Application Meeting(s)

The pre-application meeting(s) occur before a rezoning application is made to the County.

The developer is requested to arrange a meeting with County staff to discuss his/her interest in developing the property.  This meeting is designed to make sure that the developer is aware of, and familiar with, all of the County’s policies and other requirements relevant to the proposed development.  Staff will outline the steps involved in the rezoning and subdivision approval processes.  The meeting will also serve to identify possible issues and other requirements.

Concept Plan Preparation

The County will require the developer to prepare a concept plan that will provide the framework for the subsequent subdivision and development of the property.

As a general requirement, the concept plan must describe the land uses proposed for the property; the staging (or phasing) of the development, if applicable; the size of the lots proposed; and the location of proposed roads and other utility infrastructure (e.g. stormwater retention/detention ponds).

Council Presentation

Where a public meeting is requested by the County, the developer will be asked to make a presentation beforehand to the Municipal Planning Commission or County Council to inform the County Councillors of the proposed development.

This meeting is important as it will provide the Councillors with information that may help them to respond to any inquiries that local ratepayers might have about the proposed development.

The meeting may also be helpful to the developer in providing some further direction on any issues related to the proposed development.

Public Open House Meeting

The developer may be required to hold, at no cost to the County, a public meeting to answer questions about the proposed development.

It is very important that the developer and/or his/her advisor discuss the arrangements that will be made for the public meeting with the County staff before a date is set for the meeting.  Staff will advise what landowners and other parties must be notified.  Details of the advertising requirements will also be reviewed.

Wherever possible, notice of the public meeting must be advertised in the Lacombe County News.  Please check with County staff for publication dates.  The developer will also be required to place a notice of the public meeting in at least one other local newspaper.  Care needs to be taken in the scheduling of the meeting to ensure that the public receives notice not less than 10 days before the meeting.

To ensure broad access to information about the proposed development, the developer will be asked for a copy of the draft concept plan and the supporting technical documents in a format that allows staff to post the information on the County’s website before any notices are sent out for the public meeting.

Revisions to Concept Plan

Feedback gathered from the public meeting and other consultations will be used by the developer to prepare a revised plan for consideration by County Council.

County staff will be available to discuss proposed revisions to the plan.


Rezoning Application

An application for the rezoning of the lands proposed for development must be made to County Council before any subdivision can occur.  If the developer proposes to develop the lands in phases, the County may only consent to the rezoning of the phase to be developed.

If the developer has not already done so, copies of all technical studies that the County has deemed necessary for consideration of the proposed development must be provided with the rezoning application.  Documents shall be in a format that allows staff to post the information on the County’s website.

There is an application fee which must be paid when the application is made.

First Reading

If first reading is given to a bylaw to change the land use zoning, then Council will set a date for a public hearing.

The County is required by law to advertise notice of the public hearing at least once a week for two consecutive weeks in at least one newspaper circulating in the local area.  The date of publication of the last notice must be not less than 5 days before the hearing.  Notice of the hearing will also be placed in the Lacombe County News.

Public Hearing

At the public hearing, anyone wishing to speak to the proposed zoning change will be given the opportunity to do so.


Second Reading

Following the hearing, Council will decide whether to give second reading to the bylaw to change the zoning of the development site.

If the bylaw receives second reading, a development agreement must be signed by the developer before third and final reading (of the bylaw) is considered.


Development Agreement

The development agreement is a legal document that details the developer’s obligations and the standards required by the County for, among other things, access to the development, construction of the internal subdivision roads and the approaches to the new lots, site drainage requirements, water and wastewater servicing, the installation of other utilities, and the improvements required to reserve and other open space areas in the proposed development.  Financial security, normally in the form of a letter of credit, will be requested by the County to ensure that the necessary work is carried out by the developer.

Third Reading

Once the development agreement is signed, third and final reading can be given to the bylaw.

Before third and final reading is considered, Council will be asked to give final approval to the concept plan which will guide the subsequent subdivision and development of the property.  Council may also be asked to ratify any other conceptual drawings showing the improvements planned for the proposed reserves and other open spaces.

With passage of the bylaw, the land is officially rezoned under the County’s Land Use Bylaw to accommodate a multi-lot residential use.


Subdivision Application

Council may not give subdivision approval until the necessary zoning change is in place.

An application for subdivision must be made using the official form available from the County Office.  There is an application fee that must be paid to the County when the application for subdivision is made.

Conditional Subdivision Approval

Conditional subdivision approval means Council as the subdivision authority has given its permission for the land to be subdivided into lots, provided the things outlined in the conditions of approval are done first.

All conditions of the subdivision approval, including other requirements of the development agreement (as directed by the County), must be satisfied before final approval is given to the subdivision.  Among the improvements that will normally need to be completed are the following:

  • access into the subdivision
  • internal roads (to base course standard, if applicable)*

*    the paving of internal roads will generally be required within two years after final approval is given to the subdivision

  • road approaches to the new lots
  • site grading and drainage improvements
  • communal water and wastewater systems, where required by the County’s Land Use Bylaw
  • underground power, natural gas and telephone service to the lots
  • trails and other recreational facilities, including any required landscaping, on designated municipal and/or environmental reserves

Site Design Plans

The developer will be required by the County to engage the services of a professional engineer to design the necessary municipal improvements and ensure that the work is completed in accordance with the requirements of the development agreement.

No site work is to be commenced until conditional subdivision approval has been granted by the County, and the County has approved the engineering design plans, construction schedule, and is in receipt of a letter of credit and proof of adequate liability insurance coverage naming the County as an added insured.

Completion of Municipal Improvements

All site improvement work is to be undertaken under the supervision of the developer’s engineer.

Once all the road, drainage and other required improvements have been completed, the developer may make an application for a Construction Completion Certificate from the County.  The application must be signed and sealed by the developer’s engineer confirming that the work has been completed in accordance with the requirements of the development agreement.  “As-built” drawings must be provided with the application.

As a general rule, any significant deficiencies are to be corrected by the developer before the County will issue a Construction Completion Certificate.

A two-year warranty period commences from the date that the Construction Completion Certificate is issued.  During this period, the developer is responsible for any and all repairs to the municipal improvements that the developer has built on or to the site.

Subdivision Approval

A Construction Completion Certificate must be issued, and all other conditions of the subdivision approval satisfied, before the County will give final approval to the subdivision.

Subdivision approvals are normally valid for a period of one-year after conditional subdivision approval is given.  However, under the development agreement, the developer is given two years to complete the site work required for final subdivision approval.  The County will therefore automatically extend the subdivision approval to match this deadline.  If the developer is unable to complete the work within the two-year time period, an application can be made for a further time extension.  The County will review the request and make a decision regarding the time extension.

There is an approval fee payable to the County before final approval is given to the subdivision.

Development Permit Application

A development permit will be required from the County to build a home and other buildings on any of the lots within the subdivision.

For “unserviced” subdivisions, the County will not accept a development permit application for a residence unless the application is accompanied by a validated copy of a private sewage disposal system permit issued by an authorized accredited agency.

Please note that obtaining a development permit does not relieve the permit holder from complying with:

the requirements of the Alberta Safety Codes Act and the associated Regulations;

the requirements of any other applicable federal, provincial or municipal legislation; and

the conditions of any caveat, covenant, easement or other instrument affecting the property.


Reference Material:

Lacombe County Municipal Development Plan

Lacombe County Land Use Bylaw

Lacombe County Road and Infrastructure Standards Manual

Use and Management of County Reserve Lands County Policy RC(8)


Where applicable, more detailed planning directions are provided in the following documents:

Lacombe Intermunicipal Development Plan

Town of Blackfalds/Lacombe County Intermunicipal Development Plan

Lacombe/Blackfalds Area Outline Plan

Lacombe/Blackfalds Rural Fringe Area Structure Plan

Milton-Morningside Residential Development Study Outline Plan

South of Highway 11 Residential Development Study Area Outline Plan

Buffalo Lake Intermunicipal Development Plan

Gull Lake Management Plan (2000 Update)

Sylvan Lake Management Plan (2000 Update)


Community Investment Strategic Action Plan

This study was carried out by Western Sky Management Associates for members of the Central Alberta Economic Partnership (CAEP).

For complete details of the Lacombe County study download the document below.

pdf Lacombe County Community Investment Readiness Plan