The Life Cycle of an ASP

Photo by Kristy Davison

Photo by Kristy Davison


Area structure plans (or ASPs) are bylaws that require three "readings" by council plus a public hearing in order to be adopted in accordance with provincial legislation. 

Below is a step-by-step description of the basic requirements that must be fulfilled in order to provide approval for an Area Structure Plan application, and how and when the public can be engaged in the process:


1. Applicant meets with Town planning department to discuss the where and the how of a proposed ASP

  • Planning staff ensures the applicant is aware of existing requirements and policies such as Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) required, transportation studies, fiscal analysis, environmental work needed, etc.
  • Time it takes: several hours.

2. Terms of Reference is drafted

  • A Terms of Reference is written to clarify that all parties are speaking the same language. On larger projects such as Silvertip and TSMV the process is usually extended over a period of weeks or months to ensure all parties know what the expectations are for the final ASP application.
  • Time it takes: several weeks.

3. Terms of reference approved by Town Council

  • Time it takes: one council meeting.

4. Terms of reference for Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is approved by Town Council

  • The new Environmental Impact Statement policy requires that a third-party environmental consultant draft a terms of references EIS when one is required

  • Time it takes: varies depending on project.

5. Draft ASP submitted for review by Planning department

  • The initial draft may be submitted before the required studies (transportation, utilities, environmental, social, etc) are completed. At this stage planning gives informal feedback to the applicant.
  • Time it takes: 1-3 months from first meeting.

6. Final ASP is submitted by the developer to the town planning department

  • Application will include all of the studies as required by the terms of reference.
  • Time it takes: typically 3-6 months from first draft.

7. Draft ASP is submitted for Council agenda as a bylaw for first reading

  • Administration, or town planning department, officially submit the ASP to council.
  • NOTE: A municipality has discretion over the timing of dealing with an ASP.  In the case of the 2016 Resort Centre ASP amendment, for instance, the Town advised TSMV that they would consider first reading of this ASP only when the Smith Creek ASP was ready for consideration, as they did in January 2017.  
  • Time it takes to first reading: 2-4 weeks from submission.

8. First reading of ASP bylaw

  • Technically, what first reading does is put the bylaw (the ASP) on the table for discussion and a public hearing: it does not obligate council to give second reading, adopt the bylaw, or anything else. However, practically speaking it is usually a signal of some council support for the bylaw.  (*Council may – and on occasion has – conducted a public hearing prior to first reading of a bylaw if they want to test public opinion on a proposal.)

  • A public hearing for the bylaw is normally scheduled at council's first reading. Alberta's Municipal Government Act requires that a hearing be advertised for two consecutive weeks in a local paper. So a public hearing can be as close as two weeks to first reading.
  • Time it takes: one council meeting.

9. Public hearing for ASP bylaw

  • This is your opportunity to publicly weigh in on the subject. The hearing and bylaw are described by administration (town planning department) and then council receives written and oral submissions from anyone wishing to speak.
  • Time it takes: can range from a couple of hours to all night long. Public hearings can be scheduled for more than one day if there is public demand for it.

10. Second reading of ASP bylaW

  • If a bylaw proceeds to second reading, this is usually where amendments are made as a result of the public hearing. The changes can be minor but they may be massive. If changes are very significant (as happened with Canmore's MDP in 2016) council may hold a second public hearing before proceeding to third reading.
  • Time it takes: 3-4 weeks

11. Third reading/adoption of bylaw

  • There are usually only very minor changes – if any – at third reading. The second reading version  of the bylaw is generally what is adopted. Again, council is not obligated to give third reading just because they have given second reading – they can simply table the bylaw. All these readings require a simple majority of council to pass (or fail).
  • If council feels the ASP now meets the requirements and goals of the town, the ASP may be accepted at third reading. It may still be denied at this point, however, if it does not meet the goals. Council is never in a position where they must accept an ASP.
  • Time it takes: 1-4 weeks

Kristy Davison