Planning and Development

The Planning and Development Department at Northern Sunrise County (County) plays a key role in administering the County’s land use planning framework. Planning and Development (P&D) at the County involves balancing competing (and at times conflicting) needs and limited resources to ensure orderly, economical and beneficial development; while maintaining and improving the quality of the County’s physical environment through the application of tools and services under the land use planning framework.

The scope of P&D services at Northern Sunrise County include:

Land Use and Sustainability Planning

This involves the creation and administration of long-term, community vision plans; such as statutory plans (e.g., Municipal Development Plan, Intermunicipal Development Plans and Area Structure Plans), and the Land Use Bylaw, which together provide direction and the regulatory mechanism for implementing the desired change.

Development Permitting and Subdivision Planning

This includes processing and issuing decisions on development permit and subdivision applications, based on approved plans, the Land Use Bylaw, and other applicable municipal and provincial legislation.

Development Control

This involves the use of tools such as Development Agreements, inspections and Land Use Bylaw enforcement mechanisms to achieve desirable development outcomes.

Special Projects

Examples of special projects undertaken though P&D include design guidelines and special studies (e.g., Top of Bank Setback Study).

Other Services

These are services provided to the public for a fee outside the core P&D services (e.g., Compliance Report or Certificate).
Northern Sunrise County works closely with the Mackenzie Municipal Services Agency to implement its land use planning framework.

Northern Sunrise County is not accredited in Alberta Safety Codes permitting.  Here are some helpful links to assist with the permitting process.

ASCA Permits – Safety Codes Council
Safety Tips – Safety Codes Council
Storage Tanks (Flammable & Combustible Liquids) – Safety Codes Council

For building, electrical, gas and plumbing permits, you may choose from the following agencies:

The Inspections Group Inc.                                        Superior Safety Codes Inc.
780-454-5048                                                                        780-489-4777
Toll Free: 1-866-554-5048                                                       Toll Free: 1-866-999-4777
Fax: 1-866-454-5222                                                               Fax: 1-866-900-4711                                                                       

All inquiries about Planning and Development, including how to obtain a development permit, subdivide your land or change the use of your property, can be directed to Jennifer Regal, Development Officer at Northern Sunrise County, by phone at (780) 625-3284 or by email at

Top of Bank:
Thinking about building?
Read the
Top of the Bank study and take a look at how the Top of Bank Regulations may affect you.

Development Permits Approved:
The list of approved development permits can be found here. Any person claiming to be affected by development permit decisions may appeal, in writing, to the Clerk, Development Appeal Board, Bag 1300, Peace River, AB T8S 1Y9, delivered in person or by registered mail along with a $150 non-refundable Appeal Fee and Appeal Reasons within 21 days from the date of the Notice of Decision.

New/On-going Projects:
Northern Sunrise County is in the process of updating the Land Use Bylaw (LUB). The Refresh will address emerging trends, reflect the changing needs of residents and result in a more user friendly document. The LUB is the primary planning tool that implements the long-term vision for the County’s future growth as identified in the Municipal Development Plan.
Click here for the current Land Use Bylaw B275/15

Building and Development: Why You Should Invest at NSC

With an abundance of natural resources, a vibrant cultural heritage and a population of industrious and innovative people, Northern Sunrise County has established itself as a county open for business. Alberta’s four strongest economic drivers can be found in Northern Sunrise County.

Whether that be oil and gas, forestry, agriculture or tourism, you will find it all here. In addition, we have a number of francophone communities that offer the visitor a chance to experience Canada’s true bilingual nature. Our county sits to the east of the mighty Peace River. Here you will find more than 21,000 square kilometres of Alberta’s finest wilderness and agricultural land. Northern Sunrise County also sits atop one of the province’s largest oil sands deposit. Our region’s agricultural producers range from beef producers to honey producers, from oats to timothy. And in line with the provincial government’s mandate to increase value-added agriculture, we have a number of agricultural industries, with the potential to develop more.

Tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy, and nowhere is that more true than in Northern Alberta. Our vast unspoiled wilderness; our wildlife; clean, open water and wide open sky are hard to compare.

If you are interested in pursuing opportunities in Northern Sunrise County, please contact us or call our office at (780) 624-0013.

Building and Development

Land Use Planning Framework

Northern Sunrise County derives its authority to make decisions on land use planning matters from the Government of Alberta though provincial legislation and regulations, including the Municipal Government Act (MGA), the Alberta Land Stewardship Act (ALSA) and the Subdivision and Development Regulation, that delegate certain powers and authority to municipalities. Together with the Province’s MGA, ALSA, Land Use Policies and Subdivision and Development Regulation and Northern Sunrise County’s statutory plans, Land Use Bylaw, Policies, other Bylaws and documents; the land use planning framework serves as a guide for planning, development and subdivision within the County. Following is a description of, and link to, the key documents within the planning framework and how they fit together. Some of the County’s documents represent Office Consolidations that incorporate the original documents and subsequent amendments approved by Council by bylaw. In case of uncertainty, the reader is advised to consult the original documents, available at the Northern Sunrise County office.

Subdivision and Development Regulation

Enacted in 2002 and amended in 2017, the Subdivision and Development Regulation outlines a number of requirements, procedures and guidelines for the referral and decision-making process on subdivision applications in Alberta, in addition to the requirements of the MGA. The Subdivision and Development Regulation prescribes the following setback distances:

  • 100 metres from gas and oil wells;
  • 1.5 kilometres from sour gas wells and facilities (depending on the level of the sour gas facility and the intensity of the proposed use);
  • 300 metres from the working area of a wastewater treatment plant;
  • 300 metres from the disposal area of an operating or non-operating landfill, or the working area of an operating storage site; and
  • 450 metres from the working area of an operating landfill, the working or disposal area of a non-operating hazardous waste management facility or the working area or disposal area of an operating hazardous waste management facility.

An applicant for a subdivision or development permit (except when the proposed building is less than 47 square metres) is also required by the Subdivision and Development Regulation to supply information regarding abandoned oil and gas wells on the subject parcel. If an abandoned well is identified during the application process, Alberta Energy Regulator Directive 079 (Surface Development in Proximity to Abandoned Wells) prescribes minimum setbacks and may require the applicant to contact the licensee of record.

Relationship Between Planning Documents

The hierarchy of documents within the Northern Sunrise County’s land use planning framework is established by the MGA. The MGA requires that each level is consistent with the level above and below it, and that the policies or regulations within planning document(s) at each level may be implemented by those below them in the decision-making process. The MGA provides the legislative authority for municipal land use planning and decision-making, while the ALSA regional plan (or Land Use Policies in their absence) provides broad-based policy directions and principles for municipal land use planning, which are effected through statutory plans and bylaws. The statutory plans provide future direction for the development and use of lands at the fringe areas of the County’s boundaries (IDPs), or within the whole County (MDP), or small areas of the County in greater detail (ASPs). The LUB regulates the use and development of land based on the policy directions of statutory plans, while the Subdivision and Development Regulation regulates subdivision planning in conjunction with the MGA, applicable statutory plans, and the Land Use Bylaw. The polices, other bylaws and documents contain additional or specific requirements outside statutory plans and the LUB documents for reviewing and making decisions on applications for development permit and subdivision, either in general or for certain types of developments and subdivisions, or for developments and subdivisions at certain locations. Where there is a conflict or inconsistency between a higher-level planning document and a lower-level planning document, the higher-level planning document prevails to the extent of the conflict or inconsistency.

Development and Subdivision Application Process