Transfer of Development Credits (TDC)

The most attractive land for residential development is often the most ecologically sensitive as well. When local governments use zoning to try to concentrate development in areas which are less sensitive, landowners may feel unfairly treated; those in areas that do not allow development feel cut off from the economic advantages available to those in areas open to development.

Transfer of Development Credits (TDC) program alleviates that inequity through an open market system for trading development credits.

In a TDC program, the municipality will designate TDC conservation areas (also referred to as sending areas) and TDC development areas (also referred to as receiving areas) and may assign a set number of development credits to each parcel within the conservation and development areas. Landowners are free to buy and sell their credits at prices they determine. When someone comes forward with a development proposal, they must have acquired a number of development credits equal to the number of parcels in their proposed subdivision.

The lands where development credits have been sold are permanently protected from subdivision by the placement of a conservation easement.

TDC programs in Alberta are enabled by the Alberta Land Stewardship Act. The MD of Bighorn has a TDC program in their Ag Small Holdings area. There are more than 100 TDC (generally called Transfer of Development Rights (TDR)) programs operating in the United States.

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