The Municipal Government Act (MGA) allows municipalities to control the development of land by means of municipal planning strategies, land use by-laws and subdivision by-laws. Parts 8 and 9 of the MGA are the key sections devoted to planning and subdivision.
The Planning and Development Department is responsible for planning documents for West Hants Regional Municipality. The documents (Municipal Planning Strategies, Subdivision and Land Use By-laws as well as supporting maps developed for the former towns of Hantsport and Windsor and the rural West Hants municipality are all still in effect. All documents can be found here.
Municipal Planning Strategies are statements of Council's intent for growth and development of a municipal unit. Each consists of policies, text, and maps. Land use (zoning) (LUB) and Subdivision By-laws (SUB) provide the rules to implement the policies of a MPS.
The Planning and Development Department helps Council with the periodic review and update of the planning documents. The review process is time-consuming and involves a lot of background research and public consultation, mostly through public meetings and results in Council adopting revised policies and planning documents.
Municipal Planning Strategy Amendment
Occasionally someone may make a proposal which is not consistent with the intent of the MPS. In these cases, an owner may apply to change either the policies in the MPS or the Generalized Future Land Use Map of the MPS. Council is guided by its overall vision and policies and good planning practice when considering these applications.
Land Use By-law Amendment
A request to amend the LUB may address inconsistencies in the By-law, respond to changing trends, or consider a specific development proposal which meets Council's intention for an area but is not allowed by the LUB. An amendment to the LUB can be either:
(i) an amendment to the zoning map; and/or
(ii) an amendment to the text of the By-law (a change in the wording).
Each must be measured against specific criteria and policy in the MPS to see if the LUB amendment meets Council’s intentions.
A proposed use for a lot may meet Council’s intention for an area but may require a development agreement, which is a site-specific legal contract between Council and a property owner to establish conditions on the location and design of the proposed development. A development agreement is registered against the title to the lot and applies to the lot even if ownership changes. Development agreements allow Council to consider uses that are not otherwise permitted at the requested location. They can only be used when there is a specific policy in the MPS that authorizes them and the ability to consider the development agreement appears in the Land Use By-law.
Once an application is received the following process is followed: