Published on September 17, 2019

Parks and Open Space Planning Process, Standards and Guidelines

The network of parks and trails in and around St. Albert is an integral element of the city’s identity and is of critical importance to residents. They bring benefits to individuals and families, the environment and the economy. But these parks don’t just flourish on their own. Thoughtful planning, design, construction, and operation of these parks is necessary to ensure they can be enjoyed for years to come. To make sure that these well-planned and thoughtfully-designed park systems can flourish, the City of St. Albert has specific Parks and Open Space Standards and Guidelines. Below is a brief outline of the process that takes place when great minds come together to plan the future of St. Albert parks.

The planning process that moves undeveloped lands owned by organizations or individuals to operational parks involves many different stakeholders and stages. Developers, residents, and City Administration are involved in working through the process to transform undeveloped land into the parks and open spaces used by St. Albertans throughout the City.

Any new parks in the City of St. Albert need to adhere to the vision, policies, and regulations of and are planned, designed, constructed, and operated in alignment with the City’s statutory and non-statutory plans and policies. These include the City’s:

Municipal Development Plan

Land Use Bylaw 9/2005

Area Structure and Redevelopment Plans Technical Report

Municipal Engineering and Landscape Standards

Recreation Master Plan

Environmental Master Plan

Natural Areas Conservation and Management Plan

Child smiling holding toy

Park shelter

The Parks and Open Spaces Standards and Guidelines include four key components:

  1. Principles and Criteria - These provide a framework and the action items so that parks can be designed to meet the long term needs of the community. These principles include Quality of Life, Connectivity and Integration, Diversity and Inclusivity, and Sustainability and Conservation.
  2. Classifications - These provide direction on the different types of parks to be included in an area’s structure plan or a park’s master plan to provide well-balanced, cohesive parks and a logical open space system throughout St. Albert. Each of the classifications are intended to define the park’s purpose, use and open space, ensure the open parks system provides opportunities across the entire city, ensure the park is functional and accessible, provide design guidance and requirements for each park and open space, and help developers and the City evaluate how well the system is meeting City requirements. The classifications of parks include Conservation Park, City Park, Community Park, Neighbourhood Park, Urban Square/Plaza, Special Use Area and Connector.
  3. Amenities - These provide direction on which recreation amenities could be provided at each park. Some possible amenities that are considered, depending on the park’s classification, include ice surfaces, signage, furnishings (like barbeque or fire pits, bike racks or picnic tables), shelters, sports courts, washrooms, and other elements like trails, off-leash dog areas, playgrounds, sliding hills or parking lots.
  4. Evaluation - Learning is the key to success! The City of St. Albert uses a comprehensive evaluation tool to help understand how well an area structure plan or neighbourhood park master plan design meets the City’s Open Space Standards and Guidelines. Parks, upon review of each evaluation criteria, can either meet expectations, require improvements or have a criterion not apply to a specific park (for example, if evaluating a conservation park, flexibility and adaptability, two of the criteria, may not be appropriate aspects of the park’s assessment).

Jogger on trail

People skating on ice rink

Much thought and consideration go into the planning, development, and creation of every park and open space in the City of St. Albert. Parks are foundational in building a healthy, active and environmentally-sustainable community. As the City plans for the development of new parks and open spaces, many factors come into play. Timing and costs must be considered, especially in terms of which park sites to develop next. The pace of development and the housing mix in new and existing neighbourhoods also influence the demand for park space, as can changing trends that influence community desires for parks and what amenities those spaces feature. This meticulous and careful planning process allows for the effective development of our community parks.


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Last edited: May 29, 2020