Setbacks and Building Locations


A setback is the minimum distance from the property line (or a major roadway, hazard or an environmentally sensitive area) to where a building or amenity may be located. An amenity is any feature that makes a property more attractive or valuable. This includes, but is not limited to: outbuildings, fencing, garden structures, decks, fire-pits, ponds, pools or hot-tubs. The setbacks listed in the County of Foothills Land Use Bylaw under each individual use apply to buildings. The current Land Use Bylaw also addresses setbacks for landscaping and fencing from Municipal Roads and Highways.

Each land-use in the Land Use Bylaw has its own development setbacks. It is important to consult the land use by-law when planning improvements to any property in the County. In addition to these setbacks there may be site specific limitations such as environmentally sensitive areas, sloped areas, pipeline rights of way, or proximity to major highways or utilities. When designing a subdivision it is important to ensure that each lot created has an adequate developable area to accommodate its use. The provision of a plan indicating the developable area of each parcel may be a requirement for the application to proceed.

The residential development section of MDP2010 contains a policy that describes a "developable area" of land on a site. This is an area within the setback limitations which is intended for the construction of a residence and/or other structures appropriate under the designated land use which is not encumbered by other setbacks or limitations. The Land Use Bylaw specifies the minimum developable area for all land uses.

The residential policy in the MDP 2010 reads as follows:

All residential parcels shall have a developable area of land which:

  • Is not subject to the development restrictions such as those created by sour gas or other natural resource extraction, flooding, hazardous lands, landfills, transfer stations, sewage lagoons or other restrictions as indicated by the MGA and the Provincial Planning Regulation.
  • Contains a water table and soils suitable for the construction of a residence and the wastewater disposal system to be utilized.
  • Does not exceed 15% in slope unless a report has been submitted to the satisfaction of the County, prepared by a qualified Professional which indicates that the developable area is suitable for residential construction.
  • Meets the setback requirements of the Land Use Bylaw.

Special Setback Requirements

  • The Foothills County Land Use Bylaw contains a section on Special Setback Requirements:
  • For setback purposes, corner lots shall be treated as having a front yard on each side of the lot that abutts a road or highway.
  • The minimum distances required for yards do not apply to unenclosed patios, driveways, sidewalks, and steps wholly within the lot.
  • Balconies, eaves, fireplaces, sills, canopies, and cornices may project into the minimum front or side yard to a maximum of 600mm (1.97 ft.) or into the minimum rear yard to a maximum of 1.5m (4.92 ft.).