PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS


Transfer of Development Credits in Alberta

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The complexity of reconciling development and conservation activity has led many American communities to implement the Transfer of Development Credits (TDC) tool, and to Alberta enabling TDCs through the Alberta Land Stewardship Act.

Albertans have an intuitive sense that certain landscapes enhance their communities, that the loss of those valued landscapes diminishes the community, and that some activities threaten those landscapes. The province has seen an unparalleled rate of growth in recent years in population, economic activity and associated land uses, putting tremendous pressure for conversion on those valued landscapes. These are circumstances that have led several communities to explore Transfer of Development Credits programs.

TDC programs allow municipalities to direct development away from areas which are threatened by it, and toward more suitable areas. Landowners in designated TDC conservation areas or 'sending areas' are given credits that they are able to sell on an open market to landowners/developers in designated TDC development areas or 'receiving areas', who in turn are able to increase development potential (e.g., increased housing units/acre, increased parking spaces, increased building heights, etc.) beyond the base amount allowed by zoning. TDC conservation area parcels receive long-term protection through a title-restricting mechanism which limits certain land use activities in order to conserve the valued landscapes.

The Miistakis Institute has been engaged with a number of municipalities including Red Deer County, the MD of Bighorn and the Beaver Hills Initiative, as well as the provincial Land Use Secretariat to explore how Transfer of Development Credits could work in Alberta.

Over the past decade, Alberta has seen a dramatic increase in conversations around this tool. Some municipalities have started down the road of implementing programs, and others are actively researching the concept. The 2008 Alberta Draft Land-use Framework first introduced the possibility of TDCs as a tool to support that policy structure. In the fall of 2009, the Alberta Land Stewardship Act legally enabled the use of TDCs in Alberta.

To date, Miistakis has undertaken the following activities in our Transfer of Development Credits project, many of which are summarized in the documents available for download from this page:

  • Met with, and made numerous presentations to, communities, municipal councils, and conferences around Alberta
  • Visited and reviewed in depth four different successful Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) programs in the United States: Larimer County, Colorado; Boulder County, Colorado; Montgomery County, Maryland; and Calvert County, Maryland
  • Prepared a report for the Government of Alberta (Sustainable Resource and Environmental Management office) examining the role which the Province could play in supporting the TDC tool Transfer of Development Credits in Alberta: A Feasibility Review, March 2008
  • Prepared a report for the Government of Canada (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada) reviewing the state of TDC efforts nation-wide, and the role which the tool could play in supporting the next generation of the Agricultural Policy Framework Canadian Experience with Transfer of Development Credits and their Potential Application to Agri-Environmental Policy, March 2008
  • Co-hosted a workshop in Red Deer County for municipal decision-makers to inform and discuss the application of Transfer of Development Credits in Alberta Workshop Summary
  • Co-hosted a workshop in Red Deer County for municipal decision-makers to inform and discuss the application of Transfer of Development Credits in Alberta
  • Prepared a review of the state-level legal frameworks for Transfer of Development Rights programs in the United States
  • Assisted the Beaver Hills Initiative in their exploration of a TDC pilot project
  • Worked with the Municipal District of Bighorn in the revamp of their TDC policies
  • Supported with the Government of Alberta Land Use Secretariat in the development of a proposed TDC Regulation


For more information about the range of Transfer of Development Credit programs in the United States (called Transfer of Development Rights programs there), go to Rick Pruetz's web site, where he maintains updated reviews of the several active American programs, as well as programs in India, Australia, Japan, and Canada.

The projects within this program area have been made possible through the support of an anonymous foundation, the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, Red Deer County, the Government of Alberta (Sustainable Resource and Environmental Management, Alberta Environment, Land Use Secretariat), the Municipal District of Bighorn, and the Government of Canada (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada).

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