Municipal Dispute Resolution Services (MDRS) encourages the use mediation or other dispute resolution alternatives to resolve intermunicipal conflict, rather than referring the issue to a higher authority.
Where appropriate, MDRS provides for a cost-sharing arrangement between municipalities and Alberta Municipal Affairs to cover 1/3 of the funding for mediation, with average grants of $15,000.
Mediation is a service entered into voluntarily unless required by legislation (i.e. intermunicipal land use dispute and annexation) by municipalities who feel a neutral third party could help them get to an agreement. The MDRS team can help municipalities assess whether mediation or some other type of conflict resolution method is appropriate, and can help convene the process and ensure all the prerequisites are in place.
Municipalities contract directly with private mediators for their services. To facilitate this process, a roster of qualified mediators has been developed with the assistance of representatives from the urban and rural municipal associations of Alberta, the Canadian Bar Association, and the Alberta Arbitration and Mediation Society. Access the Mediator and Arbitrator Rosters.
The MDRS team will assist municipalities in completing the necessary forms to access grant funding.
The service can be accessed at any time, regardless of the level of conflict escalation.
Mediation and alternative dispute resolution in municipal situations
Mediation and appropriate dispute resolution can address a wide range of intermunicipal issues, which include but are not limited to the following:
Section 117 of the Municipal Government Act requires that both the annexing municipality and the municipality from which land is to be annexed must meet to negotiate the proposals in good faith. If there is no agreement, the municipalities must attempt mediation before a report can be filed with the Municipal Government Board to conduct a hearing. The report must include a description of the attempts to use mediation, and if mediation did not occur, the reasons for it.
Intermunicipal land use disputes
Municipalities are required to use mediation to resolve intermunicipal land use disputes. Section 690 of the Municipal Government Act stipulates that the municipalities involved must attempt mediation before the Municipal Government Board can hear the matter. In many cases the appealing municipality will register its appeal with the Board in order to preserve its right to appeal before commencing with mediation.
Cost-sharing is becoming increasingly commonplace as municipalities seek to achieve efficiencies by working together to provide services to residents. In cases where there are differences of opinions for how costs can be shared or difficulties in negotiations, municipalities are encouraged to seek the services of a mediator. Mediations addressing these issues are eligible for support under the Mediation and Cooperative Processes component of the Alberta Community Partnership program.
Disputes can arise in areas where municipalities have joined together to provide services on a regional basis such as seniors housing, waste management, and water or sewer services. Mediation services are available to the parties to assist in resolving these disputes and to create intermunicipal cooperation protocols.
Mediation success stories
Mediation can address a wide range of intermunicipal issues to produce agreement and long-term success. Learn more about success stories.
Mediator and arbitrator rosters
Rosters of qualified mediators and arbitrators has been developed to help municipalities get started. Access the Mediator and Arbitrator Rosters and learn how mediators and arbitrators become part of the roster.
Resolving Issues Together (PDF, 106 KB)
Mediation FAQs (PDF, 149 KB)
Mediation Handbook (PDF, 173 KB)
Videos on mediation and dispute resolution
Grab some popcorn and learn more about municipal mediation by checking out the movies below. Videos require RealPlayer
Journey to Consensus (2004; 34 minutes) walks you through an interest-based negotiation using a multi-party, land use conflict scenario. The video identifies the skills and techniques that are used in interest-based negotiations and can be used to help participants and managers prepare for the conflict resolution process. It’s also designed for use as a training tool for those who are teaching others about interest-based negotiation.
More Ice Time—The Power of Mediation (2007; 12 minutes) goes through a mediation issue concerning ice time at the local rink. The video demonstrates the benefits of a mediated process as being a voluntary measure that promotes fairness, fosters cooperation, and leads to mutually-beneficial solutions. The video can be a preparatory tool for mediation.
Videos on dispute resolution
These videos (4-6 minutes) showcase four types of dispute resolution alternatives available to municipalities. Videos require Windows Media Player
Mediation with Bill Diepeveen
Parties discuss and gain an understanding of each other’s interests in order to create a mutually-beneficial, non-binding agreement.
Arbitration with Jim McCartney
Parties present their case to an arbitrator who has the final decision-making power to resolve the issue through a binding decision.
Restorative Justice with Paula Drouin
The offender, the victim, and other stakeholders to come together and ‘make things right’. The process focuses on healing rather than punishment and provides parties with an opportunity to discuss the offense and decide on appropriate redress.
Litigation with Lucille Birkett
Disputes are resolved through the formal court system where the judge has the final decision-making power.
To connect with a member of our team if you have any questions about our programs and services:
Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Intermunicipal Relations Team
Alberta Municipal Affairs
17th Floor, Commerce Place
10155 102 Street NW
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 4L4