Planning, Development, and Zoning

Our clients value our varied knowledge of Planning, Development, and Zoning Law. We regularly provide advice and assistance to our clients on all aspects of land development, planning, conflicts of interest, by-laws, permits, municipal law, expropriation, and land law, as well as development related to environmental law.

We offer a full range of assistance to our clients in their representations before provincial levels of government and in political, administration, and judicial settings. Our knowledge extends to providing advice on:

  • applicable laws
  • regulatory requirements and necessary permits
  • helping to determine the development or development potential of lands
  • creating a client focused strategy

We provide assistance to achieve effective results by attending meetings and hearings on our clients’ behalf and liaising with government departments and presenting before regulatory boards. We provide assistance in responding to concerns of reviewing agencies and to concerns of rate-payers.


The act of planning is to generally define the future development of the community. Both the physical attribute of the area as well as the economic and social factors within the community are weighed and considered in order to create an overall plan to promote the growth of the municipality.

Development plans are created by the municipality and contain development policies to be implemented by the municipality’s planning department and guide officials with development within the municipality. The plan is created by the municipality with public consultation and is ultimately put forward to the appropriate provincial board for approval.

We regularly work with our clients to assemble the right team of professionals to see the development vision through to its conclusion. We are often retained to work on large scale projects by co-ordinating with our clients and their other retained professionals such as planners, engineers, and accountants to create overall plans and manage large scale projects.


Municipalities are granted zoning powers to assist them in the proper planning and development for their territory. Most municipalities have a zoning by-law which works in conjunction with its development plan or development scheme. The zoning by-law is designed to protect the interests of property owners, among other things.

At DD West LLP we have experience in the creation of zoning by-laws. We have also acted as consultants during the revision and amendment process for several municipalities’ zoning by-laws and development plans. Working together with the planning officials from the municipality and their hired planners, we strive to create enforceable documents to promote healthy growth of both urban and rural areas and to control and regulate the establishment of industry and trade within the municipality’s territory. We have also actively participated in the hearings required under legislation in regards to the passing of zoning by-laws.

Challenges to Decisions

Every province has statutory provisions for challenges to planning decisions (zoning and building decisions) and by-laws. The nature and scope of such appeals vary from province to province; as does the jurisdiction of the board hearing the appeal. Challenges are usually brought as a result of parties who feel the conditions imposed on them by planning related decisions are too burdensome.

A challenge of a decision of Council or a Board may ultimately be brought forward to the courts for determination. Possible remedies available at this level of challenge include:

  • a quashing of the by-law
  • a permit or licence should or should not be issued
  • an injunction to prohibit, interrupt, or demolish
  • an order of Mandamus (requiring an activity to be carried out)

A court, upon review of the earlier decision, has the power to make its own determination of the matter or it may refer the matter back to Council or the Board for reconsideration. Courts are hesitant to impose their view over that of a Council as long as it is found that Council has acted in good faith, there is no bias noted, and that Council has acted within the powers and authority granted it under legislation.

Reviews of planning and zoning decisions are complicated. Not only the plan applicable to the land must be considered, but also the provincial land use policies and the authority and actions of the decision makers.


Zoning and development by-laws can be enforced by a municipality by charging owners and developers with offences under statutory orders or providing municipality officers with the right to enter upon lands to remedy matters contrary to legal requirements. Methods of enforcement vary from province to province, but all municipalities generally have the ability to issues fines or fines and imprisonment for non-payment in matters relating to by-law infractions in summary conviction proceedings. Other means of enforcement can include: injunctions, mandamus orders, or destruction or removal orders.

Most provinces have given municipalities the ability to correct an offence. Factors to consider when enforcing a zoning or development by-law are:

  • fairness
  • in accordance with authority granted to a municipality
  • in accordance with the procedures set out for the process

Emerging Issues in Planning

Natural Resources

Public sensitivity to environmental matters is at an all-time high. Municipalities must balance economic growth and physical growth of their territory with the use and protection of natural resources.

Water, oil and gas extraction effects, air quality, and wastewater management are issues highly publicized in today’s society. A municipality must consider all the effects any new development or industry may have on these issues.

Much discussion has been held between the municipalities and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities regarding “sustainability”. Ongoing discussions are being held in order to have municipalities become more aware of the part they play in providing solutions for issues relating to Canada’s natural resources and the overall effects of climate change.

Planning will become more important as the future evolves so that growth can occur with minimal impact on natural resources.

Public Health

Municipalities have become increasingly aware of the need to promote health and active lifestyles for their ratepayers. As populations grow and the life expectancy of Canadians continues to rise, municipalities must ensure that there are adequate facilities for both recreational (preventative) and treatment (hospitals) aspects of health. Careful consideration will have to be given by municipalities on how to integrate current municipal planning with the future needs of health service planning. It is probable to think that the entering into joint venture agreements (for such facilities) between neighbouring municipalities will become more popular.

Public health must also be taken into account when municipalities plan or zone for future environmental projects such as wind turbines. Studies indicate that these turbines, while promoted as an environmental friendly energy source, have some negative impacts on the health of people living near them.

Characteristic Work and Projects:

CentrePort Lands: 11,000 acres commercial and industrial development

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