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Affordability & Choice Today

Implementing Alternative Development Standards

Many of the projects below are relevant to subdivision development as well as to redevelopment projects. Development standards are the rules that municipalities use to guide the planning, design and construction of residential communities. They determine the size of lots, the design of streets, the amount of parking, methods of managing stormwater, and the location of sewer, water and utility lines.

ACT has completed a guide on Alternative Development Standards (ADS). You can also download the customizable PowerPoint presentation below, complete with notes, to introduce alternative development standards to your peers, elected officials and other stakeholders.

  • PDF Document

    Online Training on Sustainable Community Design for Subdivisions

    Conventional subdivisions tend to spread individual lots evenly across a development area. This practice uses more land than necessary, requires more infrastructure for roads and services, and minimizes opportunities to protect ecologically sensitive areas. In response to this issue, the Department of Environment of New Brunswick has promoted over the last few years an innovative way to build new subdivisions that can meet the goals of a community and the developer while at the same time protect at least 50% of the natural area of the property being developed.
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    Terrain Demands Leading-Edge Water Plan

    The project team learned that a significant amount of money could be saved using on-site wastewater recycling systems in Yellowknife. However, public health authorities have neither the experience nor the regulatory framework to approve these systems. Regulations governing on-site wastewater recycling should be included in the Public Health Act.
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    Sustainable Aboriginal Demonstration Project Challenges Traditional Practices

    The Mohawk community of Kahnawake, 10 kilometres southwest of Montreal on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, wanted to develop a culturally and environmentally appropriate community. A biological wastewater treatment system, and other development aspects of the Kanata Healthy Neighbourhood, would require changes to Kahnawake's regulations. It would also require close cooperation between Band Council departments that previously had little interaction.
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    Subdivision Leads Way in Incorporating Principles of Sustainability - Surrey, BC

    This project sought to address seven principles of sustainability: natural drainage systems; five-minute walking distances to transit and commercial services; different dwelling types in the same neighbourhood; detached dwellings that present a friendly face; car storage and services handled in lanes at the rear of dwellings; a grid street pattern; and narrower streets with lighter, cheaper, greener, smarter construction. Each of the seven principles has, to varying degrees, been met in the East Clayton development.
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    Subdivision Introduces Innovative Lot/Design Concepts That Sell

    Conventional subdivision standards can give rise to the following drawbacks: garage-dominated streetscapes; lack of privacy on corner lots and under-valuation of pie-shaped lots compared to rectangular lots, in terms of land and linear infrastructure consumption per home. Four new design concepts include a lot with a permanent garden suite, private corner lots, live/work housing lots and herringbone lots, which have wide frontages and short yards on an angle to the street. As a by-product of creating innovative lot configurations and design concepts, it was discovered that four additional lots could be included in the subdivision.
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    Getting Municipal Regulatory OK for Green Wastewater Solutions

    BC's Municipal Sewage Regulation (MSR) allows construction of privately owned tertiary wastewater treatment plants, providing water reuse options for new communities. Car washing, golf course irrigation and toilet flushing are examples of permitted reuse of wastewater. This project found that MSR target audiences had not been reached, nor had the benefits (reduced infrastructure and environmental) been adequately demonstrated. BC's MSR provides a strong foundation that can support unique and innovative solutions for reusing wastewater, but it has not been adequately accepted nor applied to have made an impact upon the traditional big pipe solution.
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    Reduced Parking Guidelines for Non-Profit Rental Housing

    With costs ranging from $9,000 to $13,000 for each surface parking space and $15,000 to $20,000 for each underground or parking structure space, the City of Mississauga wanted to investigate whether any factors influenced parking demand for non-profit developments, such as provider type, client type and subsidy levels. With the assistance of an ACT grant, the City hired Beacon Planning Services to investigate parking in different types of public and private non-profit housing developments. As a result of the study, Council approved reduced parking guidelines for selected types of public and private non-profit housing developments.
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    Parking Guidelines for Public and Private Non-Profit Housing

    With costs ranging from $9,000 to $13,000 for each surface parking space and $15,000 to $20,000 for each underground or parking structure space, the City of Mississauga wanted to investigate whether any factors influenced parking demand for non-profit developments, such as provider type, client type and subsidy levels. With the assistance of an ACT grant, the City hired Beacon Planning Services to investigate parking in different types of public and private non-profit housing developments. As a result of the study, Council approved reduced parking guidelines for selected types of public and private non-profit housing developments.
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    Farmington Village: Alternative Development Standards

    Town planning officials and Farmington Developments Ltd believed they could serve the starter home and seniors' market by constructing affordable homes, each with its own narrow lot and street frontage, arranged in a village concept. The Town and the developer were awarded an ACT grant to develop two hectares of land to be known as Farmington Village. Their goal was to apply alternative development standards to lower the unit cost of each home and to build about 40 to 50 units on a site that would accommodate only 22 homes built in conformity with conventional subdivision standards.
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    Alternative Development Standards On Pine Ridge East Subdivision

    Conventional subdivision standards can give rise to the following drawbacks: garage-dominated streetscapes; lack of privacy on corner lots and under-valuation of pie-shaped lots compared to rectangular lots, in terms of land and linear infrastructure consumption per home. Four new design concepts include a lot with a permanent garden suite, private corner lots, live/work housing lots and herringbone lots, which have wide frontages and short yards on an angle to the street. As a by-product of creating innovative lot configurations and design concepts, it was discovered that four additional lots could be included in the subdivision.
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    Kanata Healthy Housing Project: Sustainable First Nations Housing and Community Development in Kahnawak

    The Mohawk community of Kahnawake, 10 kilometres southwest of Montreal on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, wanted to develop a culturally and environmentally appropriate community. A biological wastewater treatment system, and other development aspects of the Kanata Healthy Neighbourhood, would require changes to Kahnawake's regulations. It would also require close cooperation between Band Council departments that previously had little interaction.
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    Innovative Wastewater Treatment And Residential Development In British Columbia: Interpreting Municipal Government Attitudes To The Municipal Sewage Regulation 1999

    BC's Municipal Sewage Regulation (MSR) allows construction of privately owned tertiary wastewater treatment plants, providing water reuse options for new communities. Car washing, golf course irrigation and toilet flushing are examples of permitted reuse of wastewater. This project found that MSR target audiences had not been reached, nor had the benefits (reduced infrastructure and environmental) been adequately demonstrated. BC's MSR provides a strong foundation that can support unique and innovative solutions for reusing wastewater, but it has not been adequately accepted nor applied to have made an impact upon the traditional big pipe solution.
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    The Headwaters Project: A Sustainable Community Development in Surrey, B.C

    This project sought to address seven principles of sustainability: natural drainage systems; five-minute walking distances to transit and commercial services; different dwelling types in the same neighbourhood; detached dwellings that present a friendly face; car storage and services handled in lanes at the rear of dwellings; a grid street pattern; and narrower streets with lighter, cheaper, greener, smarter construction. Each of the seven principles has, to varying degrees, been met in the East Clayton development.
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    New Parking Standards to Promote Downtown Densification

    Bylaw amendments were suggested for the downtown area: multi-residential would require 1.25 parking spaces for one-bedroom units and 1.5 for two-bedroom units and up. As a result, a 520-unit condominium project was able to achieve a 50% reduction in required parking spaces, with a savings of $6,000 to $10,000 per unit.
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    Alternative Development Standards for Affordable Housing

    Since the 1970s, the Town of Banff faces chronic housing shortages and affordability problems. There is very little land for new "greenfield" residential development, and any development or redevelopment is subject to strict controls and guidelines. Although new regulations were not required, the standards developed and accepted for this project amounted to relaxations in the existing standards, including smaller lots for greater density, at-grade, open parking, narrower streets and elimination of sidewalks on the "down-slope" side of the street (the subdivision abutted existing walking trails).
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    On-Site Wastewater Recycling In Cold Regions

    The project team learned that a significant amount of money could be saved using on-site wastewater recycling systems in Yellowknife. However, public health authorities have neither the experience nor the regulatory framework to approve these systems. Regulations governing on-site wastewater recycling should be included in the Public Health Act.
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    Proposed Small Lot Residential Zones

    To accommodate rapid growth, a limited supply of land and a growing market demand, the City of Surrey needed new zoning and development standards to encourage small lot development.
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    Developing Small Lot Zones

    To accommodate rapid growth, a limited supply of land and a growing market demand, the City of Surrey needed new zoning and development standards to encourage small lot development.
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    Subdivision Regulation: Meeting Small-Town Needs

    The Town and the Tantramar Planning Commission undertook a project to develop a small-town model for subdivision regulation and address environmental concerns with respect to subdivision development.  The case study included environmental policies and design guidelines and a revised subdivision bylaw written in "plain language".  Actions undertaken to streamline the approval process included both changes to the process and clear documentation of the process.
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    New Residential Construction Waste Management Plan - A Feasibility Study

    UMA Engineering & the Regina Home Builders' Association investigated the fesibility of a waste management plan for Regina's new residential construction industry.
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    Reducing Land Development Costs in Moncton, NB

    The project recommended modifications to land development standards, including zoning and subdivision bylaws and engineering  standards.
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    Regulatory Changes for Entry-Level Housing

    Changes to the land use by-law permitting narrow lots cleared the way for small-lot subdivision development.  This and a standardized development agreement reduced development costs.  Developers are permitted to build a showhome prior to servicing; off-site lot levies were reduced to exclude recreation; levies can be paid after a home has been built; liability insurance was reduced from $5 million to $2 million; and the reduction permitted in letters of credit is 50% whereas it was only 10% previously.
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    Condominium Apartment Parking Standards in Mississauga

    This project found that two parking spaces per unit provided at least 35% more resident parking spaces in condominium buildings city-wide than were actually required.
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    Alternative Development Standards for Affordable Housing in Ottawa-Carleton

    Preliminary research indicated that alternative planning and engineering standards for such aspects as right-of-way width, lot dimension, house-to-house separation and infrastructure provision could result in servicing and land costs savings of up to approximately $12,500 per unit for single-family homes and $5,500 per unit for multi-family homes. This project demonstrated the feasibility, cost savings and marketability of alternative engineering and zoning standards.
Page Updated: 21/12/2015