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Development Approval Process
Building a Deck or Garage?
The process most commonly pursued by residents is the development permit application approvals. If you want to build a garage, a deck, or a new home (in some circumstances), you are regulated by this process. Typically, an application is made (for a fee - nothing is free anymore), and evaluated. If the application is complicated or discretionary, it may be referred to the Municipal Planning Commission (a volunteer body) for review.
This will result in a more lengthy approvals process. If the application is straight forward and complete and a "permitted use", it may be approved by Administration. While permitted uses are not advertised in the Western Wheel for a two week appeal period, any variance granted (anything that strays slightly from the regulations) or any discretionary activity approved is advertised. This is a requirement of the Municipal Government Act, and results in a two week delay while the approval is advertised so that anyone who feels they might be negatively impacted by the development has the opportunity to register an appeal.
Equally as well known is the second approvals process - the safety codes permit application. The provincial Safety Codes Act regulates how a building is constructed. This Act establishes inspection systems for compliance with the Alberta Building Code - and regulates everything from how far apart wall studs should be to the way a house should be wired to the maximum span permitted on a beam in a house. It does not regulate the off-purple colour of the siding on the house next to you - those decisions are left to developers and their respective architectural regulations. Development and building permits work hand in hand with each other - a development permit regulates how construction is situated on property, while the building permit regulates how new building activity is constructed.
The third core approvals process is for subdivision - a process most "do-it-yourselfers" never encounter themselves but have been very influenced because they live in the midst of the results of this process every day. It might be subdivision of one lot into two lots, but more often in Okotoks it is a larger number of lots related to a Developer's application for residential subdivision - most often called "phases". Subdivisions go through an approvals process very similar to that for a development permit application, but the evaluation period is much more lengthy due to a number of more complex considerations – For example: infrastructure, transportation systems, allocation of park space, housing density, and the increased consultation required.