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Rossland’s Sustainability Planning on the Ground
– From Planning to Reality!


Rossland’ is an early adpoter of integrated community sustainability planning.

Rossland’s Integrated Community Sustainability Planning Process (ICSP)

ICSP processes can have a powerful effect on land use planning. Rossland, BC, a mountain Resort Municipality is putting their sustainability plan into action through land use policies.

This case study provides details on the work the City is doing regarding land management to align with community planning documents. It describes the journey to becoming a more sustainable Rossland and can provide lessons that are relevant to other communities.


Rossland's Challenge

Rossland has experienced some of the common resort community growing pains: pressure for resort and recreation development, housing price increases, and changes to demographics.

In order to help them to manage and address these changes, the City of Rossland became one of British Columbia’s early adopters of Integrated Community Sustainability Planning (ICSP).

Rossland has had their sustainability plan, Visions to Action – Strategic Sustainability Plan, or SSP in place since January of 2008.

Rosslands Planning Process

Rossland started the Visions to Action process in 2007, as a long term planning strategy incorporating the community’s hopes and desires for the future.

The SSP planning process that Rossland undertook involved extensive community consultation, the inclusion of creativity, fun and community building and resulted in an action-oriented plan that was adopted by Rossland City Council. Council also established (by bylaw) a Sustainability Commission in February 2009 to oversee implementation and ongoing management of the Visions to Action Strategic Sustainability Plan. City staff are working actively to implement suggested policy changes that arose from the process.

RS_planning_session.jpgSince adoption, the City’s SSP process has included many volunteers on task forces, coordinated through means of a central Sustainability Commission. Other players in the community are tackling the goals of the SSP as well; Rossland REAL Food, the Visions for Small Schools, Neighborhood of Learning, the Heritage Commission, the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Rossland have all played an active role. However, we are going to look primarily at the actions of one of the most important players, the City of Rossland.

Visions to Action – Strategic Sustainability Plan (SSP)

The SSP provides a clear vision for Rossland’s future with an inspiring vision for the year 2030.

2030 Vision

In 2030, Rossland is a resilient alpine community and a leader in balancing social, environmental, and economic sustainability. Celebrated for its unique cultural heritage, small-town charm and world-class natural amenities, Rossland offers residents and visitors alike extensive recreational opportunities, trail networks and green spaces. The thriving, diverse economy embraces innovation and entrepreneurism, and its citizens actively contribute to a welcoming, vibrant community that is safe, inclusive and affordable.

RS_powerpedal.jpgThe Plan sets out guidance in 11 key focus areas: Land Management, Natural Environment and Resource Lands, Community Economic Development, Recreation and Leisure, Housing & Affordability, Transportation, Inter-generational Care & Learning, Sense of Community, Energy & Air Quality, Water & Solid Waste Management, Governance. These guidelines are meant to be used throughout the community when decisions are made. Each focus area also has an end state goal to steer the guidance and decisions.

The Land Management end state goal is as follows:

  • Building a community that is a compact, diverse and green community
  • Land use is efficient and avoids sprawl
  • Neighbourhood communities are diverse and complete
  • Community is integrated with the natural environment
  • Development is in accord with community values
  • A vibrant downtown is the social focus of the community
  • Development standards are green

We were amazed at the turnout. Young and old alike all wanted to be a part of the planning process --Kelvin Saldern

Land Management Implementation

RS_tablesession.jpgOver the last three years Rossland has taken large strides towards implementing the Land Management goals. (See Table 1)

From the start of the process in 2007, the City of Rossland planned to align the City’s actions with the SSP. When the SSP was complete the Planning and Development Department initiated a revamp of both the Official Community Plan and the zoning bylaws. Through this process, they were able to embed the directives of the SSP into land management policy.

The SSP, OCP and zoning bylaw documents provide a strong framework for the recommendations of the community to be applied to the built form and character of the community. The SSP influences many of the recommendations made to Council around development decisions, budgeting, water conservation and other new policy development.

The Way Forward

RS_Visioning-OpenHouse.jpgRossland’s Land Management policies work in an integrated way. The policies address some of the broader concerns as Rossland works toward becoming a more sustainable community.

These land use decisions and new policies have set the stage for a sustainable Rossland in 2030. The impacts link to the 2030 vision with the realization of the following:

  • a compact community connected with trail linkages;
  • a community where citizens are aware of the need for conservation
  • a community that has ample opportunities to connect and interact with each other;
  • a community that has reduced the tax burden by developing in a compact way;
  • using resources wisely avoiding the need for expanded water and sewer capacity;
  • a community that doesn’t have to rely entirely on vehicle travel;
  • a community that has significantly reduced its green house gas footprint and met its goals for carbon reduction (33% below 2007 levels by 2020).

Becoming a sustainable community is a long term journey. By adopting policies that reflect the SSP, Rossland’s City Council and staff are setting the groundwork for a compact, walkable, healthy community over the long term. Many of these changes will take years or even decades to show their effects, but the stage has been set for Rossland to reach its vision of a sustainable future.

ICSPs and Land Use Planning

RS_Visioning-Workshop_KidsPictures_web.jpgSustainability planning is about planning for the long term future of a community – culture, environment, economy and society. Land use is an important piece of this planning as it can impact all of the pillars of sustainability.

Land use can affect the appearance and structure of the community and environmental impacts. Land use affects the economic cost of providing services. Land use affects the ability of the residents to connect and interact and their ability to celebrate together as a community. Land use planning processes will help a community align priorities and actions, to develop a framework for actions over the long term and may even excite residents.

Table 1: Summary of Impacts of Land Use Policy Changes Resulting from Strategic Sustainability Plan (SSP)


Updated Zoning Bylaw:
Industrial Land Retention

Provides foundation for future industrial development
and potential for an increase in local employment
and economic diversification.

Updated Zoning Bylaw:
Mixed use zones

Creates areas of town where people live and work, brings
vitality to core after hours and can promote safety,
walkability and general community health – also includes
provision to ensure long term services for residents are maintained.

Update Zoning Bylaw:
New recreation and park policies

Policies in place to create new park areas for different
types of recreation – can lead to more inclusive and
active community. Support for cycling facilities can reduce
GHGs, obesity and increase population health.

Water Meters Reduced water usage, increased education around water
conservation. Reduced pressure on water related infrastructure
- reduced demand can delay the need for building new
infrastructure for a growing population.
Budget for Trail Network

Increased ability for residents to walk to services and recreation,
increased potential for healthy, active citizens, and increased
desirability of community as a vacation and migration destination.

Community Gardens Increase in local food availability, especially to those with small
or unsuitable lots, increase education around healthy food habits,
increased connection to food sources, potential for increased
social networks and interactions.
Governance The SSP provides framework and education for city staff and
community members to show leadership.
Tree Preservation Bylaw

Reduces the impact that development has on the land base
and protects existing trees and landscapes, may increase
presence of mature trees and reduce energy consumption
due to shading.

Cut and Fill Bylaw

May reduce potential for erosion, reduces need for landscaping
and reclamation work.

CS_Rossland_PlanningSusLandUse_cover.jpgFor a detailed list of land use policy changes in the Official Community plan download a pdf of this Story from the Field.

Program Vision

Smart Planning for Communities: creating stronger more vibrant and sustainable communities in British Columbia.

Our Work

Smart Planning for Communities (SPC) is a BC-wide collaborative initiative to assist local and First Nations governments in addressing their long-term sustainability challenges by providing resources and tools for planning socially, culturally, economically and environmentally sustainable communities. Learn more about our services…

Advisory Group

To provide future strategic oversight and direction
for Smart Planning for Communities program, a specialized advisory group including funders, experts in community sustainability planning and implementation will guide the SPC Program with the necessary strategic and operational guidance over the next three years. 

Reach Us

We’re close at hand and happy to help! See our Smart Planning for Communities Contacts page to connect with facilitators and other program staff.

SPC is a program of the Fraser Basin Council, a charitable non-profit society that works to advance sustainability in the Fraser River Basin and across BC.

For more information on the Fraser Basin Council please visit: