A candidate for election is elected by acclamation when there are no opponents running against him or her.

Accountability involves situations in which people are expected to be responsible for their actions and may be required to explain them to others. Representatives are accountable to the residents of the municipality they are elected in.

The administration of a municipality is usually led by the Chief Administrative Officer. The administration usually refers to the people who are responsible for making sure policies and decisions of council are carried out for the day-to-day operations.

An advisory council can be a group of people who are appointed to help with the implementation of the policies and decisions of an area. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs is responsible for improvement districts. An elected advisory council guides the activities of the improvement district.

Ambulance service may be provided by municipalities. Some municipalities have their own ambulances and hire their own staff. Other municipalities contract with private ambulance companies, non-profit organizations or with neighbouring municipalities to supply the service, or join together to form a regional service.

An analogy is a comparison that is made between two ideas to show a similarity.

In some municipalities, the Chief Elected Official can be appointed, which means he or she is chosen by and from the group of councillors who have been elected by residents.

An attitude is a feeling, emotion or point of view about a situation. Attitudes can often be seen through our behaviours.

A council or elected officials are given the authority, or the power, to speak and make decisions for citizens in council meetings.


A belief is something that is assumed to be the truth.

A benefit occurs when a decision results in well being or the common good. Before municipalities decide whether to build or provide facilities and services, they have to think about the costs and the benefits.

When articles present opinions as if they were true, they have a bias. A bias can also be represented when perspectives or points of view are left out or only one side of an issue is presented.

A boundary is an imaginary line or border that indicates the limits or extent of an area. municipalities are comprised of a clearly defined boundary and the population within it.

A council is responsible for passing a budget. A budget looks at revenue, or money that comes into the municipality as well as expenses, or money that is spent.

If an elected municipal official has to step down or resign part way through his or her three-year term of office, then a by-election may be held to elect someone else. A by-election is an election held to fill a vacant position at a date other than the general election date.

A bylaw is a law passed by the council. Bylaws can be enforced by bylaw enforcement officers, police and peace officers in the municipality. If people in the municipality do not follow the rules set out by a bylaw, they can be fined or given penalties.

Bylaw enforcement officers enforce the bylaws of the municipality while peace officers and police services enforce provincial and federal laws. Bylaw officers and peace officers may also assist local police in different ways. These officers may also work in cooperation with the municipal police force in check stops and school education programs.


A candidate, or a person nominated to run for election for a position on council, is required to be a resident of the municipality for six consecutive months immediately preceding nomination day.

The main appointed official of a municipality is the Chief Administrative Officer. The Chief Administrative Officer works with people who are hired to work as municipal employees to help the council carry out their work. The Chief Administrative Officer is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the municipality.

The Chief Elected Official is the person who leads and is the public spokesperson for the council and the municipality. The title of the Chief Elected Official can also be Mayor or Reeve.

A citizen is someone who was born in Canada. People who move to Canada from other countries can also become citizens.

A city is a large urban municipality with a population of at least 10 000 people.

Collaboration occurs when people work together to make a decision.

A community can be a group of people who have something in common. This can include where they live, a common identity or a sense of belonging. Being part of a community can involve having a common history or common interests. Community members often share purposes or goals.

A community dialogue gets people from as many parts of the community as possible to share information, stories and experiences face-to-face, express perspectives and develop solutions to community concerns and opportunities. A community dialogue is not like a debate. It emphasizes listening. A community dialogue encourages people to find out what they have in common.

A community scan is a description of ways of life, questions, decisions, interests and issues that influence and affect the community. A community scan collects information and examples about the community, and identifies issues and challenges that municipal governments can deal with.

In some cases, groups who disagree try to reach a compromise to deal with the choices that have to be made. Each side gives up some of its demands so the groups can come to an agreement that everyone can live with.

A councillor is responsible to keep in confidence, or keep private, matters discussed in an in-camera (not in public) council or council committee meeting until discussed at a meeting held in public.

Consensus is a decision-making process that tries to bring a group to a mutual agreement. Consensus tries to address all concerns of the group. It can take longer than voting, but it can encourage more creativity and collaboration in making decisions.

When you consider perspectives, you identify research questions and consider who is affected by an issue. You are also asked to find out about different opinions and perspectives that may influence decisions.

The residents, property owners and businesses in a municipality are sometimes called constituents.

A controversy can occur when there is strong disagreement. Debates, discussions and disagreements can be part of a controversy.

A cost is a consequence of an action. Before council decides whether to build or provide facilities and services in their municipality, they have to think about the costs and the benefits.

The council refers to people who are elected officials responsible for representing the interests of their citizens. Council is given the authority, or the power, to speak and make decisions for their citizens in council meetings.

At a council meeting, members of council debate, discuss and vote on community concerns, issues, policies, projects and actions. Council meetings are held on a regular basis and can be held weekly, or once or twice a month. Council meetings can be held during the day or the evening. Councils discuss and debate most issues in meetings that are open to the public.

In municipal government, elected officials are called council members, and include councillors and the mayor or reeve.

Councillors are elected representatives of the municipality. Councillors can be elected to represent a ward or electoral division. They can also be elected at-large. Either way, they must consider the interests of the whole municipality when making decisions. The council of the municipality is responsible for carrying out the powers, duties and functions of local government.

Country residential subdivisions are areas that are usually in a municipal district or county in which a number of people can build houses to live.

A critical issue presents a dilemma or an inquiry through a question that represents something that is important and meaningful to you.


When residents have a voice in decisions and governance, this is called democracy.

Demonstrations and rallies are used to gather support around a position or action. Individuals and groups organize demonstrations or rallies by creating a message, setting a date and publicizing the event through strategies like press releases and local media articles. Demonstrations and rallies are often very public events and can take place near government offices or in a public place.

Development can refer to changes in a municipality, such as new projects, neighbourhoods, buildings, facilities and services. This type of development can bring more resources into the municipality. It can provide additional money to the municipality that may allow council to bring additional services that residents believe are important and can improve the ways that needs are met. However, some changes can also decrease the quality of life for residents in the municipality.

When you draw and share conclusions in an inquiry, you discuss and present conclusions and the evidence that supports them. You explore the perspectives involved, form opinions and make decisions.


Electors of municipalities can elect, or vote for, representatives who are responsible for making decisions and representing the people who live and work there.

Councillors can be elected at-large, which means they are elected by all eligible voters in the municipality.

The people on the municipal council are called elected officials. Elected officials represent electors, or the people who elect them. Electors can also be called residents, who are property and businesses owners.

Local elections are one of the most important elements of a democracy. In an election, residents of the community vote for individuals who will represent their interests and will work to make decisions about services and facilities that will help build a good quality of life.

An electoral division or district is a geographic area that a municipality can use to divide areas for election purposes, based on the number of people who live there. The council of an urban municipality may have one or more councillors for every electoral division, or ward, in the city.

The electoral process is an important aspect of a democracy and refers to the manner in which voters elect representatives from those nominated as candidates.

The residents who are eligible to vote in a local election are called the electorate or electors.

The eligible voters are called electors. Elected officials represent electors, or the people who elect them, as well as residents, property owners and businesses.

The people who are eligible or able to vote are called the electorate or electors. A person can vote in municipal elections if the person is at least 18 years old, is a Canadian citizen, has lived in Alberta for six months before the election day and resides in the municipality on election day.

Emergency and disaster response preparedness is a responsibility of every municipality. Each municipality must have an emergency plan approved by council. A disaster services committee, which is created through a bylaw of council, relies on an emergency plan as a guide for action when a disaster occurs in the municipality.

A budget looks at expenses, or money that will be spent, as well as revenue, or money that comes into the municipality. A council is responsible for passing a budget.

When you explore in an inquiry process, you are asked to think about what you know and why this inquiry is important, interesting and relevant to yourself and others.


A fact describes something that has actually happened, or something that can be proven to be true.

Family and community support programs are projects and services that a municipality can help provide to citizens of all ages in the municipality.

Federal government is the level of government that is responsible for looking after the needs and interests of Canada as a whole.

Fire protection can be supplied by the municipality’s own fire department. However, some municipalities contract fire service from neighbouring municipalities. Some partner to provide support and mutual help to one another when called on.

A First Nations reserve is not part of any municipality. The federal government takes responsibility for First Nations reserves.


An area where people live together can be described as a geographic community. A geographic community can be a city, town or rural area. It can be a village, hamlet or municipal district. A geographic community can also be a neighbourhood in a city, town or village.

Goals describe where you want to get to by implementing an activity, action or program. Many municipalities can set goals and priorities that they want to work towards with their policies and programs.

All municipal governments have councils that govern, or make decisions for, their geographic area.

Governance refers to the rules and processes that guide the way decisions are made.


A community can be a hamlet if it has five or more dwellings, boundaries that help identify the community, a name and contains land that is used for non-residential purposes.


Identity can describe who we believe ourselves to be and where we belong. Identity can involve personal or group beliefs, priorities, goals and attitudes.

Improvement districts are a form of local authority and not a municipality. The provincial government is responsible for all of the functions of municipal government in improvement districts, including the levy and collection of taxes. The residents of an improvement district may elect representatives, who are subsequently appointed by the Minister, to an advisory council that assists in its administration and governance.

Inquiry is a decision-making or problem solving process that guides research and investigation of critical issues and questions. Inquiry asks you to start with your own knowledge and perspectives, collect information and apply thinking skills to develop conclusions and consider how to take action.

An intern is a temporary employee or volunteer who is responsible for learning while he or she works at a job.

Issues are questions that are important and meaningful to people. They involve multiple perspectives, opinions and point of views. Issues can involve disagreements, controversy and a justifiable decision that has to be made.


A justifiable decision involves a decision that is made with the support of valid reasons.


Landscapes refer to the features of an area that are visible and can be seen. Landscapes can include rural areas and farmland, forested areas, mountains and parkland.

Land use planning is an important responsibility of the council. Land is developed for a variety of uses in municipalities, and decisions about land use often depend on the location of communities, resources and economic activities. Land use planners are people who work to balance the needs of all individuals and groups in a municipality, while thinking ahead and considering how their planning decisions will impact the future.

Laws establish rules and guidelines that people and businesses or community must follow. Laws in a municipality can be called bylaws.

Legislation refers to the laws that are put into place and enforced by a government. municipalities must follow the laws that are established in the Municipal Government Act.

A levy is an amount of money charged and collected. Property taxes are levies, or an amount of money charged to property owners in the municipality. Some of a municipality’s revenue will come from the taxes that the municipal government will require the property owners to pay.

Some people or organizations lobby, or try to influence and put pressure on, representatives from different levels of government to make their opinions known through strategies such as media campaigns and petitions. People or organizations who lobby for their interests are often called lobby groups or special interest groups.

A lobby group is a group that tries to change or influence policy or legislation towards its interests.

Local authorities are areas in Alberta that provide local government. A municipality is considered to be a local authority. Examples of local authorities are municipalities, improvement districts and special areas, as well as regional health authorities and school district authorities.

Local elections are one of the most important elements of a democracy. In a local election, residents of the community vote for individuals who will represent their interests and will work to make decisions about services and facilities that will help build a good quality of life. Local general elections are held every three years, and councillors are expected to serve their communities during this three-year term of office.

Most geographic communities in Alberta are governed by a local government, the level of government given the power to make decisions that relate to local issues and services. Local government is also called municipal government. Local governments work within communities to represent the interests and goals of community members. Local governments provide services to citizens and encourage them to make local decisions together, build positive relationships and learn from each other. This strengthens the community as a whole.

Local media can include newspapers, television and radio news programs and community magazines. The information provided in local media about events, issues and local concerns can get community members talking about and considering different points of view.


The provincial government is involved with managing, or looking after, improvement districts.

Mandatory is something that is required. A municipality may have municipal boards and committees that are mandatory.

The title of a Chief Elected Official can also be Mayor or Reeve. The Chief Elected Official is the person who leads the municipality and is the public spokesperson for the council and municipality.

There are eight Métis settlements in Alberta that were established by the Métis Settlements Act of Alberta. Métis settlements are not considered to be municipalities, but are treated like a form of local government.

Any municipality may also have municipal boards and committees, or people who form a group to deal with decisions, policies, issues or concerns. Some boards are mandatory.

The municipal council is a group of people who are elected to make decisions on behalf of people who live in the municipality. The people on the municipal council are also referred to as elected officials.

Municipal districts also referred to as counties are rural areas and include many different landscapes such as farmland, forested areas, mountains and parkland. Municipal districts can include smaller communities such as hamlets or country residential subdivisions. Some municipal districts include larger population areas such as those around Edmonton and Calgary.

Municipal employees are hired to work for the municipality and are responsible for following its policies as well as providing services such as safe drinking water and garbage collection.

Municipal government is local government that is created by the province to provide essential and desired services to communities. Municipal government works within communities to represent the interests and goals of community members, provide services to citizens, and encourage them to make local decisions together.

In Alberta, the areas that are served by local governments are called municipalities. There are different types of municipalities. Each has similar structures and functions and may deal with similar or different issues. Municipalities have clearly defined boundaries and are formed to provide government to the population within those boundaries.


A neighbourhood is usually an area within a community. It can also be an area within a municipality. Neighbourhoods usually have boundaries that define their area and population.

When a candidate is nominated, he or she is running or competing for a position on council in an election.

Non-profit organizations are groups or organizations that are usually formed to support public or private interests without expecting to make a profit by doing so. Non-profit organizations can support activities related to protecting the environment, protecting animal interests, providing support programs for seniors and children or providing recreation or sports to a community.

Non-residential land is land without residents or dwellings in which people live. Examples include land where stores, office buildings or car lots can be found.


An opinion describes an attitude, judgement, point of view or conclusion that cannot be proven true or false.


Peace officers are appointed by the provincial government and hired by municipalities. They have very specific and limited law enforcement authority in such areas as liquor, traffic and noxious weeds.

Penalties can be imposed if people or businesses in a municipality do not follow the rules set out by a bylaw. A penalty usually results in a fine.

A petition is a document that presents a point of view on an issue. The more signatures obtained on a petition, the stronger the message usually is. People sometimes use informal petitions to communicate a point of view to the municipal government.

As you plan and find information, you identify and organize the sources of information that will help you research and understand the issue.

Police service is provided in a variety of ways. Most municipalities receive their police service from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). A number of municipalities provide police service using their own municipal police forces. In addition, there are First Nation police departments such as the Blood Tribe Police and the Tsuu T’ina Nation Police that provide policing services to their individual communities on reserves.

Policies are made by councils to set guidelines that the municipalities follow. These guidelines can describe how services and programs will be provided by a municipality. The Chief Administrative Officer and municipal employees are responsible for following these policies. Decisions that councils and councillors make are often seen in the policies and bylaws of a municipality.

Population refers to the people who inhabit, or live in, an area.

is a measurement of population in an area. It is usually calculated by dividing the number of people living in an area by the square kilometres of land in that area. A special area has a low population density, which means that there are very few people living on each square kilometre of land.

A press release informs the local media about an event, a report or an issue. A press release gives reporters all the information they need to write a news story.

When you prioritize a number of items, you usually rank them by order of importance.

Priorities represent choices that are considered to be the most important. The way that a municipal government makes decisions about the use of the land depends on the ideas and ideals that are important to the municipality. Priorities are also established around budget choices.

Private spaces are individual spaces, and may include rooms, closets, desks or lockers that are used by one individual. In a municipality, private spaces may include privately owned businesses that set hours when people can come in, private homes or land.

The land and property in a municipality goes through a property assessment process, which involves placing a dollar value on land and property developments. This value is used when calculating the amount of property taxes that will be charged to the owner of this land or property.

Property refers to land, buildings and businesses in a municipality. Property is used by the municipality through a property assessment system to determine property taxes.

Property taxes are levies, or an amount of money charged to property owners in the municipality. Some of a municipality’s revenue will come from the taxes that the municipal government will require the property owners to pay.

Provincial government is the level of government that is responsible for looking after the needs and interests of the province as a whole.

Sixty per cent of all lands in special areas are public lands, or lands owned by the provincial government, and are generally used for grazing, cultivation or irrigation.

Public spaces are shared spaces, and may include kitchens, living rooms, gymnasiums or classrooms that many individuals share. In a municipality, public spaces may include roads, streets and sidewalks, public parks or recreational facilities, libraries and public lighting.

Public works are services and facilities that are provided for the benefit of all people who live, work, visit and play in the municipality. They can include roads and streets, sidewalks and lighting, storm water management, equipment management, engineering and public transit.


Quality of life can refer to the sense of safety, comfort, security, health and happiness that a person has in his or her life. It can be affected by the decisions that a municipality makes and the way of life provided in a community.


As you record and organize in an inquiry, you record what you find out, and look for patterns, connections, similarities and differences in the information.

Recreational and cultural facilities, programs and services are places and activities that can be provided and supported by a municipality. These facilities, programs and services can be offered for specific communities within the municipality, or for the whole municipality.

The title of a Chief Elected Official can also be Mayor or Reeve. The Chief Elected Official is the person who leads the municipality and is the public spokesperson for the council.

As you reflect and evaluate at the end of an inquiry process, you consider how effective your decisions and actions were. Think about what you could change, do next, or find out more about.

Regional health authorities are local authorities that have representatives appointed to provide public services for health care.

Regional school divisions are local authorities that elect representatives to provide public services for education.

A representative democracy in municipal government provides residents with the ability to elect a representative to govern and make decisions on their behalf.

Representatives are people who are elected or appointed to represent the citizens of a municipality or local authority, discuss issues and ideas in council meetings or board meetings and let people know about their decisions.

Residents are people who live, or reside, within a municipality and for the purposes of municipal elections are eligible to vote.

The municipal government makes decisions by passing bylaws and resolutions. Some bylaws and resolutions establish rules that all people who live in or visit the municipality have to follow.

Resources can be described as the useful or valuable possessions or qualities of a country, organization or person. Resources can come from the environment as well as from the products and services that people in a municipality or community make and provide. Examples of resources can include things such as money, water or oil.

A budget looks at revenue, or money that comes into the municipality as well as expenses, or money that will be spent. A council is responsible for passing a budget.

Rural usually describe areas with farming and agricultural activities. Rural areas often have a lower population density than urban areas. Rural ways of life can refer to life in the country. A municipal district or county has rural areas within it.


Solid waste management is the ways that a municipality deals with four types of solid waste: household, commercial, industrial and agricultural waste. Solid waste can also be classified as hazardous.

A special area is a local authority. The purpose of a special area is to provide administration of Crown land and came about when the province took ownership of large areas of land resulting from unpaid taxes during the Depression.

A special interest group has an interest in a specific area and works to promote its beliefs, values and views.

Specialized municipalities are formed when the other forms of municipalities do not suitably meet the needs of its residents. Specialized municipalities may include those with both urban and rural characteristics in one municipality.

A strategic plan is used to set the direction for the future of the municipality. It is a statement of beliefs, principles or guidelines that guide the work of an organization. It considers the roles and responsibilities of the people involved.

Summer villages are a form of government that was designed to meet the needs of part-time residents. Summer villages required at least 60 per cent of the land to have buildings used as dwellings. A summer village is a type of municipality that may no longer be created.

Sustainability can involve the need to ensure that there are enough resources for the future of the community when making decisions for the present. For example, building a road requires money to maintain it to fill potholes, clear snow and repave.


When you take action in an inquiry, you decide what you will do with what you have learned. You make a plan to act on your decision.

Taxes are an amount of money that is charged and collected. Property taxes or levies are an amount of money charged to property owners in the municipality. Some of a municipality’s revenue will come from the taxes that the municipal government will require property owners to pay.

A term of office is the length of time that a representative commits to when they are elected to office. An elected official in a municipality commits to a three-year term of office.

A town is an urban municipality that can be formed when an area has at least 1 000 people.


Urban usually describe areas in which there are cities, towns and villages. Urban areas often have a higher population density than rural areas. Urban ways of life refers to life in a city, town or village.

User fees are fees for using services and are commonly used to pay for utilities such as water services, sewer and garbage pick-up.

Utilities are services that can be provided by a municipality. The most common utilities provided by municipalities are water services, wastewater management and solid waste management.


Values are ideas, items or beliefs that we believe to be very important.

Something that is viable has the ability to grow and develop.

A village is a municipality that must have a population of at least 300 people.

A vision or mission statement can be described as a vision, guidelines, recommendations, rules and principles that can be used to guide decisions for the future. Some municipalities may use a vision or mission statement to help them focus on their priorities.

A volunteer provides their time and services to support activities and people, without expecting any financial fee or reward. Many non-profit organizations in a community or municipality depend on volunteers.

A voter is a resident who has a legal right to vote in a municipal election.


A ward is a specific area used to divide a municipality for the purposes of elections, based on the number of people who live there. The council of a municipality may include one or more councillors for every electoral division, or ward.

Wastewater management involves providing a system to dispose of water that has been used by residents of a municipality. It is separate from the management of storm water, although sometimes storm water is connected to the wastewater system in older neighbourhoods.

Water services involve using a water resource and, in some municipalities, the storage of treated and untreated water. Municipalities get raw water from different sources, such as wells, rivers and lakes. Water service also includes the movement of untreated water to a treatment facility, the storage of treated water in a reservoir, and a pipe or distribution system to homes, businesses and industry.