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TDC101 TDC Conservation Areas

Zoning and TDC Conservation Areas

A common misconception is that TDC planning replaces or surpasses zoning. This is not the case. Rather, TDC program planning enhances or augments zoning.

Many of the planning and zoning devices that can support a TDC Conservation Area designation already exist, and may already be in use in a municipality’s plans: greenbelts, agricultural land districts, environmental sensitive zones, heritage districts, etc. These are often obvious bases for TDC Conservation Areas.

To best understand the relationship between TDC programming and municipal zoning, it is important to remember that participation in TDC programs is voluntary. This means there is a base zoning that applies in the TDC Conservation Area regardless of whether a landowner decides to participate or not, as well as an alternative zoning option used for those who participate.

Likely, the most practical planning device for accommodating this dual zoning is an overlay in the Land Use Bylaw. The base zoning laid out in the Land Use Bylaw applies by default; when a landowner chooses to participate in the TDC program, the overlay (also included in the Land Use Bylaw) comes into play. In order to accommodate the difference between the opportunity (the zoning) and the realization of the opportunity (participation), TDC programs usually include some process for ‘certifying’ the potential credits. In other words, creation of the program shows landowners the credits they could have, while ‘certification’ marks their voluntary entry into the program, making those credits available for sale.

Although politically challenging, down-zoning is one non-voluntary zoning approach that has been used many times in existing TDR programs. In these cases, the allowable amount of subdivision or building density in a TDC Conservation Area is reduced at the outset in support of the conservation goal (often, that reduced development capacity is immediately reflected in the TDC credits allocated to those parcels). A down-zoning approach works when 1) the focus is on the shared conservation goal (rather than the tool), and 2) when genuine community engagement takes place and leads to strong community commitment to that goal.


Miistakis Reports

Government of Alberta


Web Resources

Support Organizations and Consultants

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Also, check out our full list of TDC Resources.