Land use regulations in Alberta date back to the early 20th century. Calgary and Edmonton passed bylaws restricting development as early as 1904 and 1906, respectively. In 1912, the provincial government passed regulations controlling subdivision of land. In 1928, the Town Planning and Preservation of Natural Beauty Act was enacted for the purpose of protecting the natural amenities of Alberta’s countryside. In 1929, the Town Planning Act was passed, which introduced comprehensive zoning regulations of the kind familiar today.
Regional and inter-municipal planning in the province can be traced back to the creation of a Provincial Planning Advisory Board and District Planning Commissions in 1950. Legislative amendments in 1957, and the Planning Act of 1963, required all local plans and regulations to conform to the applicable regional plan. The Planning Act of 1977 expanded the power of Cabinet to regulate the use of land outside municipal boundaries and, importantly, authorized it to designate any area in the province as a “special planning area” and within that area to prohibit or control directly any use or development of land. The 1977 legislation also gave the province the power to create regional planning areas to be under the jurisdiction of regional planning commissions composed of representatives of the municipalities in the area. The regional planning commissions operated until 1995, when they were disbanded and the regional plans were abolished.