City charters are regulations that provide Edmonton and Calgary with additional authorities and flexibility with the aim of building strong, vibrant cities that attract trade and investment.

Proposed changes to the charters will be reviewed by the government in 2024 for final approval.

Proposed changes to the city charters

Proposed changes to the city charters are intended to support attainable and affordable housing. The changes concern 3 areas:

Off-site levies

Off-site levies enable municipalities to charge developers a portion of the costs associated with servicing a new area. The proposed changes add new requirements, such as responding to stakeholder feedback during levy consultations, and creating an appeal process through the Land and Property Rights Tribunal.

Inclusionary housing

This is also known as inclusionary zoning. These provisions allow a municipality to require a developer or other land-use applicant to provide money or other resources to the municipality to be used for affordable housing. To date, neither Edmonton nor Calgary has used these charter provisions.

The proposed changes repeal the inclusionary housing provisions found in the city charters to help limit the potential for cost increases to new housing. This change also aligns the charters more closely with the Municipal Government Act (MGA), which previously removed inclusionary housing provisions that went unproclaimed.

Building code bylaw authority

Unlike other Alberta municipalities, Edmonton and Calgary have the ability to make bylaws regarding environmental matters in relation to provincial safety and building codes, including energy consumption and heat retention. A bylaw must be  consistent with the existing provincial safety and building codes. This authority has been interpreted broadly to include the ability to require all construction within their jurisdiction to adopt a standard for energy efficiency higher than the Alberta edition of the National Building Code.

The proposed changes to the city charters remove this authority, ensuring there is one uniform building code standard across the province going forward. Individual property owners can still choose to build to a higher energy efficiency standard than required by the provincial code.

Need for city charters

Calgary and Edmonton are governed by the MGA, as are all of Alberta’s municipalities. As the 2 largest urban centres in Alberta, the cities of Calgary and Edmonton face unique challenges, complexities and opportunities compared to other Alberta municipalities.

These challenges, complexities and opportunities are why Alberta’s 2 largest cities have charters – regulations that grant them additional flexibility with respect to provincial legislation and regulation.

About city charters

The city charters are regulations that modify or replace specific provisions in the MGA (along with some other provincial acts and regulations), so they apply differently to the cities of Edmonton and Calgary than other municipalities. These modifications to how the legislation applies allow the cities additional flexibility and authorities.

Unless explicitly outlined in the charter regulation, all other legislation will continue to apply to the 2 cities.

In some instances, the city charters are enabling, meaning that the cities of Calgary and Edmonton can choose if, and when, they would like to use the additional authorities they are granted through charters.

The cities are required to hold public hearings when passing bylaws using charter authorities.


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