Challenges of Rezoning a Property

Katie Thompson
Last Updated: April 16, 2024

Rezoning a property can be a complex and challenging process. It involves changing the designated use of a property, which can have significant impacts on the surrounding community and the property owner. In this article, we will explore the challenges of rezoning a property and the regulations that govern this process.

Understanding Zoning Regulations

Before we dive into the challenges of rezoning a property, it's important to understand the concept of zoning regulations. Zoning regulations are laws that dictate how land can be used in a specific area. These regulations are put in place by local governments to ensure that land is used in a way that benefits the community and promotes orderly development.

Zoning regulations typically divide land into different zones, such as residential, commercial, and industrial. Each zone has its own set of rules and restrictions on what can be built or used on the property. These regulations are important for maintaining the character and integrity of a community and protecting property values.

The Process of Rezoning a Property

Rezoning a property involves changing the designated use of a property from one zone to another. This process is typically initiated by the property owner, who must submit a rezoning application to the local government. The application must include a detailed description of the proposed change and the reasons for the request.

Once the application is submitted to the municipality, it goes through a review process by various departments and committees, including the planning department, zoning board, and city council. These groups will evaluate the proposed change and consider factors such as the impact on the surrounding community, traffic, and infrastructure.

If the rezoning application is approved, the property owner must then obtain the necessary permits and approvals to move forward with the proposed change. This can include building permits, environmental assessments, and public hearings.

Challenges of Rezoning a Property

Rezoning a property can be a challenging process for both the property owner and the local government. Here are some of the common challenges that may arise during the rezoning process.

Community Opposition

One of the biggest challenges of rezoning a property is community opposition. When a property owner applies for rezoning, it can have a significant impact on the surrounding community. This can lead to concerns about increased traffic, noise, and changes to the character of the neighborhood.

Community members may also be concerned about the impact on property values and the potential for decreased quality of life. This opposition can lead to public hearings and protests, which can delay or even prevent the rezoning of a property.

Zoning Board Discretion

The decision to approve or deny a rezoning application ultimately lies with the zoning board or city council. This can be a challenge for property owners, as the decision is often based on the discretion of the board members.

Even if a property owner meets all the requirements and provides a compelling case for the rezoning, the board may still deny the application. This can be frustrating for property owners who have invested time and resources into the process.

Cost and Time

Rezoning a property can be a costly and time-consuming process. Developers must pay for the rezoning application, as well as any additional permits and assessments that may be required. This can add up to thousands of dollars, depending on the size and complexity of the property.

The rezoning process can also be lengthy, with some applications taking months or even years to be approved. This can be a challenge for property owners who are eager to move forward with their plans.

Regulations for Rezoning a Property

To ensure that the rezoning process is fair and consistent, there are regulations in place that govern how properties can be rezoned. These regulations vary by province and municipality, but here are some common regulations to be aware of.

Comprehensive Plan

Most municipalities have a comprehensive plan in place that outlines the long-term vision for the community which is also known as an “Area Structure Plan”. This plan includes zoning regulations and guidelines for future development. When considering a rezoning application, the zoning board will refer to the comprehensive plan to ensure that the proposed change aligns with the overall vision for the community.

Public Hearings

Public hearings are a crucial part of the rezoning process. These hearings provide an opportunity for community members to voice their opinions and concerns about the proposed change. The zoning board must consider these opinions when making their decision.


In some cases, a property owner may request a variance from the zoning regulations. A variance allows the property owner to deviate from the standard zoning requirements. However, variances are typically only granted in exceptional circumstances, and the property owner must provide a compelling case for why the variance is necessary.

Rocky Mountain Icehouse located in central Edmonton, Alberta

Tips for a Successful Rezoning Application

While the rezoning process can be challenging, there are steps that commercial property owners can take to increase their chances of success. Here are some tips for a successful rezoning application.

Do Your Research

Before submitting a rezoning application, it's essential to do your research. This includes understanding the zoning regulations in your area, as well as the comprehensive plan for the community. This will help you determine if your proposed change is feasible and aligns with the long-term vision for the community.

Communicate with the Community

Communication is key when it comes to rezoning a property. It's important to engage with the community and address any concerns they may have. This can help build support for your proposed change and mitigate any opposition.

Hire a Professional

Navigating the rezoning process can be complex and overwhelming. Consider hiring a professional, such as a civil engineering firm, to help you with the process. They can provide valuable insights and guidance to increase your chances of success.

The Path Forward

Rezoning a property can be a challenging and complex process. It's important to understand the regulations and challenges involved before embarking on this journey. By doing your research, communicating with the community, and seeking professional help, you can increase your chances of a successful rezoning application.

If you are looking for experienced civil engineering company to guide you through the rezoning process in Edmonton and across Alberta, be sure to engage with Bolson Engineering and Environmental Services. We will be happy to consult with you as your trusted engineering partner.

About the author

With more than 12 years in human resources, Katie brings important process management skills to the table. Her direct experience with senior management in the construction industry helps her understand your engineering project goals. Her creative forward-thinking propels Bolson toward exciting new business opportunities.

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