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TDC101 Credit Systems

TDC Credit Issuance 

(for a more explicit view of the nature and role of TDC credits, see Life of a Credit under the Resources)

Canadian Transfer of Development Credits (TDC) programs are distinct from American Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) programs in several aspects, but perhaps the most fundamental operational one relates to the ‘credit’ in TDC programs. TDC Programs always have the step of actually creating the ‘credit’ – there is no inherent recognition of a salable development opportunity until that has happened. For this reason, the municipality must explicitly outline several aspects related to the realization, assignment and use of the TDC credit, including at least the following:

Creation– Credits may be calculated and created automatically (e.g., 1 credit for every acre in a given area), subject to criteria, based on a landowner application, or some combination of these. Regardless, this process should be identified and formalized. It is also important to ensure the voluntary nature of the TDC tool is not affected by an automatically-generated credit; i.e., the calculation may be automatic, but participation in the program and use of those credits should still be voluntary.

Validation– Because the step of creating credits is distinct from the steps of issuing and transferring, there must be some process for the municipality to ‘authenticate’ or ‘validate’ the credits for use. Calculations may be made of how many credits a given parcel is eligible for, but the municipality should create a process for the credits to be authenticated and made available for sale (similar to validating a train ticket and making it available for use).

Exchange within Designated Program – A development credit should only be exchanged and used within (and subject to the terms and conditions of) the TDC program by which it was created. This will likely be stated explicitly in the provincial TDC Regulation.

Changes in Land Use– Once the credit opportunities are calculated for a given TDC Conservation Area parcel, but no sale has occurred and a title restriction is not yet registered, it is conceivable that the land use could change, potentially changing the conservation value of the parcel. The municipality needs to determine and communicate what are the ramifications of such an event.

Irrevocability, expiration– The municipality will have to determine if credits can be revoked, and if so, under what circumstances. The municipality will also have to determine if the credits have a ‘shelf life’ and can expire if they are not used, or if landowners can opt out. Several programs in the U.S. use this approach, allowing landowners to become part of the program, but withdraw from the program after a specified time if they have not severed and sold any credits.


Miistakis Reports


Web Resources



How the Value of TDC Credits is Determined


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Also, check out our full list of TDC Resources.