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Municipal Sustainability Planning

Municipal Sustainability Planning

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs- Brundtland Report

A municipal sustainability plan (MSP), often referred to as an integrated community sustainability plan (ICSP), is a collaborative and inclusive community planning process that allows municipalities to envision the communities they want and take proactive steps to move there. It is an opportunity to engage citizens in a dialogue about what they value about their communities and what they want them to look like in the future. The main role of an MSP is to guide the ongoing growth and development of the community from more than just a land-use perspective. 

In the late 2000s, many municipalities across Alberta developed MSPs to meet requirements set out in the 2005 Gas Tax Agreement between the governments of Alberta and Canada.  Recognizing the benefits of sustainability planning, AUMA has provided MSP guides to serve as a set of tools and resources to help municipalities develop comprehensive long-term plans that include and integrate the five dimensions of sustainability (social, cultural, environmental, economic, and governance). 

MSPs are the highest-level planning document in a municipality and set the direction for all other plans and policies.  The vision and directions developed through the MSP process should be used to update the policy and vision in a municipal development plan and will help guide current decisions as municipalities plan new communities and redevelopment existing neighbourhoods through area structure plans and area redevelopment plans.

(Diagram adapted from Nova Scotia’s Implementation Guide for Sustainability Plans)


AUMA - To learn more about how MSP fits within the broader scope of land-use planning and other non-statutory plans, visit AUMA’s page on Non-statutory Planning.

Federation of Canadian Municipalities  - provides a wide variety of related events, tools, case studies and related resources to support sustainable planning. Examples include:

  • Case study of a Community Sustainability Plan from Ladysmith, BC
  • Case study of a Regional Integrated Community Sustainability Plan - The United Counties of Leeds and Grenville developed a Regional Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP) that provides a strategic framework for its 12 municipalities (10 members and two partners) to address sustainability objectives and priorities.