Local Government Planning for Sustainability & Resilience

Local government planning can help build community sustainability and resilience. Local governments can include planning policies in their regional growth strategies and official community plans that support positive economic, social and cultural, and environmental outcomes.

Sustainability & Resilience

  • Sustainability: A sustainable community effectively balances economic, social, cultural and environmental interests in order to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
  • Resilience: A resilient community has the capacity to adapt to changes such as shifting demographics and housing affordability, and "bounce back" from events such as economic downturns and the effects of a changing climate (for example, more frequent and intense storms, temperature increases or sea level rise).

Community Planning for Sustainability & Resilience

Community planning for sustainability and resilience can lead to positive economic, social and cultural, and environmental outcomes. Local governments can include economic, social and cultural, and environmental planning policies into regional growth strategies and official community plans, to support community sustainability and resilience.


  • Encourage sustainable and resilient resource use that minimizes waste and inefficiency.
  • Anticipate and plan to reduce future costs of infrastructure, servicing, health care and climate change impacts as a way of encouraging investments in the local economy.

Social & Cultural

  • Support community safety, health and diversity
  • Encourage community design that facilitates physical activity, community connection, housing affordability, aging in place, food security, substance abuse reduction, cultural diversity and accessibility to services (for example, education, child care and health care)


  • Support the natural environment and its ecosystems so they are better able to resist damage and recover quickly.
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect agricultural land and green space, and maintain wildlife corridors, habitat and values.
  • Consider a "design with nature" approach that integrates natural assets such as aquifers and streams into infrastructure services so that communities are better prepared for the environmental changes related to climate change.

To support community sustainability and resilience, local governments are also encouraged to consider the integration of their official community plans and a range of other community plans and strategies, addressing such matters as transportation, housing, sustainability or the impacts of climate change.

Sustainable & Resilient Community Characteristics

Sustainable and resilient communities are compact, complete, centred, connected and consider natural assets and hazards, and are characterized by:

  • Compact development that avoids sprawl, is appropriate for the local context, and supports access and affordability
  • Complete and mixed land use that supports the efficient movement of people, goods and services and contributes to business efficiency and quality of life
  • Centred focal points that support business, commerce, festivals and gatherings and serve as transportation hubs
  • Connected development nodes linked by transit and active transportation routes and public spaces that contribute to social connectedness and community safety
  • Consideration of natural assets ensuring a productive resource base that includes agricultural and forest land, and protecting assets such as tree canopies, streams, groundwater and aquifers
  • Consideration of hazards to ensure that development reduces vulnerability to hazards (for example, more frequent intense storms, sea level rise)

Learn more about making land use decisions to support sustainability and resilience: