Status: Under review
Ministry responsible: Municipal Affairs
The Government of Alberta, the City of Edmonton and the City of Calgary are working to create city charters to build strong, vibrant cities that attract trade and investment.
The need for City Charters
Calgary and Edmonton are currently governed by the Municipal Government Act (1.1 MB),
a one-size-fits-all approach to governing Alberta’s 344 municipalities. Alberta's two biggest cities follow the same rules as Gadsby, a town of 25 people, and have the same powers as summer villages such as Ghost Lake.
As Alberta’s main centres, Calgary and Edmonton face a unique set and scale of population pressures and demands for services:
- they are home to approximately two-thirds of the province’s population
- 9 out of 10 international immigrants who move to Alberta head to its two urban centres
- Calgary and Edmonton must provide top-notch services to local residents, but also to Albertans who converge in the major hubs for work and pleasure, and to access goods and specialized services
- city growth puts pressure on roads, playgrounds, bridges, sidewalks, recreation centres, sewage and water systems
- more people put high demand on public services, including hospitals and schools
The development of city charters is proceeding in 2 main areas:
- creating tools that enable Calgary and Edmonton councils to make local decisions with greater flexibility and autonomy
- developing a new fiscal framework for the two cities so they and the province can provide programs and services to citizens to optimize efficiencies and build strong, economically vibrant cities
About City Charters
A city charter provides a city with specific flexibilities and authorities to better meet the needs of citizens. The city charters for Calgary and Edmonton will enable the cities to modify or replace provisions in the Municipal Government Act (MGA) or any other provincial Act or regulation, where the province has specifically granted it authority to do so. Unless explicitly outlined in the charters, all other legislation will continue to apply to the two cities.
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. In doing so, the cities still need to undergo their own municipal public engagement processes, such as public hearings prior to passing bylaws.
The Government of Alberta, the City of Edmonton and the City of Calgary are collaborating on charter policies in 5 key areas:
- administrative efficiency
- supporting community and well-being
- smarter community planning
- empowering local environmental stewardship
Members of the public and stakeholders will have opportunities to provide feedback throughout the charter development.
During information sessions held in Edmonton and Calgary in October 2016, stakeholders and members of the public reviewed policy proposals and provided feedback. Input is currently being compiled into a “What we heard” report and will be shared publicly. Comments will be considered as the charters are developed.
Additional engagement opportunities are being planned for early 2017 to provide an opportunity for the public to review and comment on the proposed fiscal framework, as well as any other substantive changes that resulted from the October 2016 engagement.
Once the draft regulations are complete, they will be posted online for 60 days for further public and stakeholder feedback before the charters are enacted. The city charters for Calgary and Edmonton are expected to be complete by July 2017.
- Oct 2014: The Government of Alberta, the City of Edmonton and the City of Calgary signed an agreement to develop City Charters (0.5 MB) to support the cities’ unique needs.
- Nov 2015, Jan 2016: Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson met with the Premier and members of Cabinet to present their vision for a strengthened relationship between the province and the two cities
- Oct 2016: During City Charters information sessions held in Edmonton and Calgary, stakeholders and members of the public reviewed policy proposals and provided feedback.
- Dec 2016: Summary of feedback (What We Heard document) will be prepared. The three government parties will review all public and stakeholder feedback to inform the development of the city charters.
- Early 2017: Further engagement activities will provide an opportunity for the public to review and comment on the proposed fiscal framework, as well as any other substantive changes following stakeholder engagement.
- Winter 2017: City charters will be drafted for Calgary and Edmonton.
- Spring 2017: Draft city charters regulation will be posted online for 60 days for additional public comment.
- Summer 2017: City Charters will be enacted as regulations under the Municipal Government Act.
Municipal Government Act (MGA)
The Municipal Government Act (MGA)(1.1 MB) guides how all municipalities in Alberta operate. The MGA will continue to be an important piece of legislation for Alberta municipalities, including Calgary and Edmonton. However, the charters are an opportunity for the cities to develop unique approaches to delivering the services citizens need and expect - services that are at a scale and level of complexity not seen elsewhere in Alberta.
City charters will include both regulatory changes and a collaboration agreement. The collaboration agreement will support ongoing, long-term coordination between the two cities and the Government of Alberta. The collaboration agreement is a commitment by the three governments to cooperate on emerging matters of mutual interest.
The current proposal highlights three policy and planning tables: forums for representatives from the cities and province to regularly work towards joint goals regarding social policy, transportation, and the environment and climate change.
A number of preliminary agenda items for these tables have already emerged through city charter discussions and are outlined in the City Charters Overview Package.
The policy and planning tables will develop workplans and priorities, and are committed to report their progress to the public and elected officials.
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