1 Glossary | West Coast Environmental Law



Glossary of Terms Related to Smart Growth

Adaptive management - evaluating the performance of new management approaches and changing practices over time as experience is gained.

Affordable housing – housing that is safe, appropriate and accessible and where rent or mortgage plus taxes are 30 percent or less of the household’s gross annual income.

Brownfield – unused industrial lands that may or may not be contaminated, or that have been remediated.

Charrette – a neighbourhood or centre design process where a multidisciplinary team (including residents, business owners, the municipality and design professionals such as architects, engineers, planners and landscape architects) creates a visual plan for an area over the span of several days.

Cluster Development – concentrating development on smaller lots on a portion of a larger site to protect the integrity of the green infrastructure

Community Energy Planning – the consideration of energy supply and demand in regional, urban and neighbourhood design and development. It involves efficiency in land use, transportation, site planning, building design, retrofits, and infrastructure design, as well as development of renewable energy. The goal is more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable communities.

Demand Management – strategies to reduce the demand for a resource, such as water or road space, rather than supply more of the resource. Transportation demand management techniques include increasing transportation choices, adopting land use patterns that encourage non-automobile forms of transportation, and trip reduction or carpooling programs. Water demand management techniques include water metering, water-efficient fixtures, and outdoor watering limits.

Density – the amount of residential, commercial or industrial development permitted on a parcel of land. It is usually measured in dwelling units per acre or floor space/area ratio.

Density Bonus – voluntary scheme in zoning bylaws that enable developers to build additional units in return for public amenities such as affordable housing, underground parking, parkland, and daycare facilities.

Development cost charges (DCCs) – the expenses for roads, parks, sewer and water infrastructure a municipality may recover from a developer as part of the costs that new developments create.

Development permit area (DPA) – areas designated in the official community plan to which special regulations apply. A DPA may be designated to protect the environment, control the design of intensive (including single family) development, and control the design of commercial development.

Engineered ecology – wetlands, ditches, green roofs, and trees that are constructed to fulfill ecological functions and form part of the green infrastructure.

Environmentally sensitive area (ESA) – areas of valuable ecological features, habitat, or species that are protected from urban development (even if they are in an urbanized area).

Floor area ratio – the ratio between the total floor area to be built on a site and the size of a site.

Garden suites or Granny Flats – Detached suites on single family lots above garages or in accessory buildings.

Green building – see High performance building.

Green infrastructure – the ecological processes, both natural and engineered, that act as the natural infrastructure. It includes ditches, creeks, wetlands, parks, open space, trees, green roofs, gardens, working lands, aquifers and watersheds that supply drinking water.

Greyfield – aging strip malls and shopping centres.

High performance building – buildings that incorporate a variety of sustainability features such as energy and water efficiency, natural stormwater management, sustainably sourced materials, low site impact, and indoor environmental quality.

Infill – building housing or other buildings on a site already containing existing buildings, some or all of which are retained.

Impervious surfaces – surfaces of land where water cannot infiltrate back into the ground such as roofs, driveways, streets and parking lots. Total imperviousness means the actual amount of surface taken up with impervious surfaces. Effective imperviousness means how the site acts given its total impervious cover. A site with total imperviousness of 60% can act like a site with only 10% imperviousness if strategies such as channeling roof runoff into the garden and using swales to capture rainwater from the driveway and sidewalk are used.

Intensification – redevelopment of existing neighbourhoods, corridors or commercial areas at higher densities.

Mixed-use zoning – areas where several uses are allowed in a pedestrian- and transit-friendly design. These zones usually include retail, residential, commercial and civic uses.

Nodal development – concentrating new development into centres with existing infrastructure capacity and serviced by transit.

Official Community Plan (OCP) – An official community plan is a statement of objectives and policies to guide decisions on planning and land use management, within the area covered by the plan (usually an entire municipality or parts of regional districts). An OCP establishes how a local government will grow.

Regional Growth Strategy - a long term plan authorized by the BC Local Government Act for planning/visioning on a regional scale, designed to encourage sustainable, efficient development and human settlement and to guide and coordinate local regional district and municipal official community plan direction. Particular regional areas of focus are housing, transportation, regional district services, parks and natural areas and economic development.

Secondary suite – an accessory dwelling located within the structure of a principal single-family detached dwelling, townhouse or strata titled apartment.

Swale - a vegetated strip of land designed to attenuate rainwater runoff, clean it with natural soil and vegetation filters, and then infiltrate it into the ground

Traffic calming – physical structures on roads used to reduce vehicle speeds, and restore a safe route for pedestrians and cyclists, including curb extensions, centre islands, speed bumps and roundabouts.

Transit-supportive or transit-oriented development – development that is greater than 10 units per acre and designed along transit corridors.

Urban containment boundary (UCB) – lines drawn on planning maps around developed areas showing where urban land ends and rural land begins. UCB’s are supported by zoning and infrastructure policies.

Working lands – land used for agriculture, forestry or other resource industries.