Municipal restructuring

Learn about restructuring options and tools available to help municipalities remain sustainable.

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Municipal restructuring are changes meant to help the needs of communities and their residents. Restructuring changes can include:

  • changing the type of municipality (status changes)
  • merging 2 or more municipalities (amalgamations)
  • adjusting municipal borders (annexations)
  • creating new municipalities (formation)
  • dissolving existing municipalities (dissolution)

Restructuring changes

  • Status changes

    A municipality’s status can change from one type of municipality to another based on population or density of land parcels.

    Types of municipalities include:

    • municipal districts
    • villages
    • summer villages
    • towns
    • cities
    • specialized municipalities
  • Amalgamation

    Amalgamation is when 2 or more municipalities with shared borders join together to become one municipality. Municipalities may do this voluntarily if they believe they can operate better as one municipality.

    The Minister of Municipal Affairs can also initiate an amalgamation.

  • Annexation

    Annexation is when a municipality acquires land from a bordering municipality to provide room for its own growth. Annexation should not affect the acquired land negatively.

    Municipalities must apply to the Municipal Government Board to initiate an annexation.

  • Formation

    The creation of a new municipality is known as formation or incorporation.

    Since the adoption of restructuring principles, standards and criteria in 2001, no new municipalities have formed. The criteria specified new municipalities should not be created if it increases the total number of Alberta municipalities.

    Currently other municipal restructuring processes promote viable Alberta communities.

  • Dissolution

    Dissolution is when a municipality ceases to operate or exist as a municipality. When a municipality dissolves, another municipality usually takes over governance of the area.

    Dissolution may be beneficial for a number of reasons. For example, if a municipality is struggling financially, another municipality may have more financial resources to provide services to residents. It may also be more efficient to have one municipality providing many of the same services, such as emergency or utility services, to a larger area.

    It may also make sense to become part of another municipality if there are ongoing difficulties with filling council positions. A viability review can help individual municipalities determine whether dissolution is a good option.

Sustainability tools

  • Capacity-building tools

    Alberta Municipal Affairs, the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, the Rural Municipalities of Alberta, and other Alberta municipal associations have a wide variety of capacity-building tools to support municipalities as they respond to the changing needs of their citizens.

    Links to these tools can be found on the Municipal government resources page.

  • Self-assessment questionnaire

    The self-assessment questionnaire is a tool for municipal councils and administrations to:

    • evaluate and understand their current situation
    • identify areas of strength
    • identify areas to improve

    The questionnaire also provides links to capacity-building tools designed to help strengthen municipal performance.

  • Viability reviews

    A viability review is a process that helps municipalities determine their ability to continue as a municipality or develop a plan that leads to municipal success. The process brings decision makers together and empowers communities to make decisions about their future through collaboration and cooperation.

    For information about the process and current reviews, visit Viability reviews for municipalities.