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  • Land Use Bylaw Update

    The Town of Westlock has adopted a new Land Use Bylaw. 

    The Land Use Bylaw is a vital document that shapes the community you work and live in by setting requirements and parameters for future development. 

    The new Land Use Bylaw 2022-12 was adopted by Council on November 28, 2022 following the public hearing held earlier that evening.  The new Bylaw came in force and effect on January 1, 2023.  Any development permit applications received from that date forward will now be reviewed against the requirements of Land Use Bylaw 2022-12.

    The purpose of the Land Use Bylaw is to regulate and control the use and development of land and buildings within the Town of Westlock to achieve the orderly and economic development of land. Rezoning or application for change of land district will require an amendment to the Land Use Bylaw.

    For that purpose, among other matters, the bylaw:

    1. Divides the town into districts;
    2. Prescribes and regulates the purposes for which land and buildings may be used in each district;
    3. Establishes a method of making decisions on applications for development permits and issuing development permits;
    4. Provides the manner in which notice of the issuance of a development permit is to be given; and
    5. Prescribes and regulates standards for signs and off-road parking.

    The new Bylaw as well as a list of related Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) is now available for review in the drop downs below. A paper copy is also available for review at the Town Office.  As this is the Town's largest bylaw, we have also prepared summaries of the highlights of Land Use Bylaw 2022-12. 

    View or Download the Land Use Bylaw 2022-12 Highlights

    For further information, please contact Development Services at 780-349-4444 or  planning@westlock.ca.

    1. When does Land Use Bylaw 2022-12 come into effect?

    Land Use Bylaw 2022-12 comes into force and effect on January 1, 2023.


    2. Why was the Land Use Bylaw updated? 

    The previous Land Use Bylaw (2015-02) was adopted in 2015. Land Use Bylaws are meant to be a living document which is regularly reviewed and updated to meet the changing needs of the community.  

    The new Land Use Bylaw was created with the help of Westlock residents, business owners, and other stakeholders to better meet their current and future needs.


    3. How is Land Use Bylaw 2022-12 different than the previous Land Use Bylaw?

    Land Use Bylaw 2022-12 is a marked departure from the previous Land Use Bylaw both visually and content-wise.  The new Land Use Bylaw features navigation tools such as a “How-To Guide” for new users and linking incorporated throughout the document to help all users navigate the Bylaw with ease. 

    The content of the new Land Use Bylaw has also been reorganized and updated to meet new development trends and legislative requirements including the modernized Municipal Government Act and Alberta Building Code.

    4. How will the changes impact business owners?

    Commercial and industrial property owners will gain more flexibility for the future use of their land in the new Bylaw.  Use options have been increased in many commercial and industrial districts.

    Businesses will be able to place a-frame and flag signs without a permit to help advertise their sales or offerings (restrictions apply).

    The new Land Use Bylaw also reduces the landscaping requirements for commercial and industrial developments.

    5. How will the changes impact homeowners?

    Residential properties will be most impacted by changes to residential accessory building regulations. These include:

    • New separation distance for accessory buildings (1.5m)
    • Increased projection allowance for uncovered decks
    • Introduction of privacy walls
    • Removal of accessory building lot coverage maximums

    Residential properties will also be impacted by the new maximum width for front-yard hard landscaping of 10.0m.


    Home owners will also benefit from new development permit exemptions for home offices, day homes, and roof-top solar panel installations.


    6. Will the changes impact current developments and approvals?

    When a new Land Use Bylaw is adopted, there may be existing buildings or uses that no longer comply with the new Bylaw.  There are a set of rules in place to protect those non-conforming buildings and uses in the Municipal Government Act.  If a development permit has been issued before the day the new Land Use Bylaw comes into effect, then the development can continue in perpetuity.

    Non-conforming buildings may continue to be used, but the building may not be enlarged, added to, rebuilt, or structurally altered except to make it a conforming building or for routine maintenance of the building. If a non-conforming building is damaged or destroyed, exceeding 75% of the value of the building, it must be repaired or rebuilt in accordance with the new Land Use Bylaw.


    Non-conforming uses may continue to be in place, but if that use is discontinued for two (2) years or more, any future use of the land or building must conform with the new Land Use Bylaw.


    7. I’m planning on building a [garage, deck, house, etc] in the new year, how will the new Land Use Bylaw effect my project as planned?

    If you have a future project planned, contact Development Services as soon as possible to determine what changes, if any, need to be made to your plans to allow your project to continue as envisioned.


    In some cases, such as an uncovered deck, the new Land Use Bylaw may allow you to build a larger deck than originally planned.  In other cases, you may need to adjust the location of your planned building to meet changes in setback requirements.


    8. Will the changes in Land Use Bylaw 2022-12 impact permit application timelines? 

    The new Land Use Bylaw introduces timelines for deeming applications complete and application approval.  While the Town’s turnaround times are typically much less than the legislated timelines, this will provide complex applications or those applications that require approval from the Municipal Planning Commission with surety regarding application review and approval timelines.

    What is the Land Use Bylaw?

    The Land Use Bylaw divides the Town into districts (Residential, Commercial, Industrial, Institutional)

    Town of Westlock Land Use Districts

    • Each district lists the types of Uses which can be developed as well as regulations on how those Uses are developed 

    • The Land Use Bylaw also sets out requirements for landscaping, parking, signs and exempts certain types of Uses from requiring development permits.

    Why was the Land Use Bylaw updated?

    • The previous Land Use Bylaw was adopted in 2015. Since then, it has had no significant revisions.
    • Land Use Bylaws are meant to be a living document and adapt as the Town’s vision and needs change over time.

    How does the Land Use Bylaw affect me?

    The Land Use Bylaw determines what you can develop on your property as well as the location, size and height of what you are developing.

    The Land Use Bylaw shapes your neighbourhood and the Town overall. It determines the look of your streetscape and what can be built near your home or business. 

    Public consultation ensures that the new Land Use Bylaw considers the needs of Westlock's residents, landowners and businesses.

    Feedback from this step was used in the drafting and refinement of the new Land Use Bylaw 2022-12.

    Online Survey - February 22 - March 11

    An online survey was held from February 22 to March 11.  We received a total of 58 responses from Town residents, businesses and stakeholders.  We hear that you want a Land Use Bylaw that is easy to navigate and understand, business friendly, and protects the use and enjoyment of private property.

    We have compiled a summary of the feedback we received:  

    Survey Summary Report (March 21, 2022)

    Open Houses - April 28th and May 5th

    Open Houses were held April 28th and May 5th.  Participants were able to view the proposed changes to the Land Use Bylaw, give feedback and ask questions of Town staff.  

    We've compiled a summary of the feedback we received:

    Open House Summary Report (May 25, 2022)

    Project Contact:

    Development Services


    (780) 349-4444

    Following the conclusion of Step 2 - Public Consultation, the project team began work on the final draft of the new Land Use Bylaw.  The new Bylaw incorporates the feedback received through all stages of public consultation as well as comments internally from Town Administration.

    Land Use Bylaw 2022-12 was presented to Council for their initial review and given first reading on October 24, 2022.

    A Public Hearing regarding the potential adoption of Land Use Bylaw 2022-12 was held on 6:30 p.m. on November 28, 2022.   Following the Public Hearing, Council gave second and third readings to Land Use Bylaw 2022-12 later that same evening.

    Land Use Bylaw 2022-12 will be in force and effect on January 1, 2023.  Any development permit applications received after that date will be reviewed against the requirements of the new Bylaw.

    A paper copy of Bylaw 2022-12 is available for review at the Town Office during business hours.

    Questions?  Email planning@westlock.ca or call 780-349-4444

    The previous Land Use Bylaw has been in use since 2015.  Over the past 7 years, we've identified revisions needed to correct errors, gaps and other issues that have come up through practical application.  The new Land Use Bylaw 2022-12 addresses those required revisions and incorporates the feedback we received from Town residents, business owners and stakeholders throughout our Public Engagement phase.

    The highlights of the new Bylaw as adopted can be found below.

    Land Use Bylaw 2022-12 Highlights

    We've also compiled a summary report of all the changes that have been made between the current and new Land Use Bylaw.

    Land Use Bylaw 2022-12 Summary Report

    It is important to note that all changes apply to future development after the new Land Use Bylaw comes into effect on January 1, 2023.  Existing permitted structures and developments would not have to make changes to meet new regulations.