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Modernized municipal laws for strong communities

The final piece of legislation that guides how municipalities operate has been proclaimed as law. 

Modernized municipal laws for strong communities - Oct. 26, 2017

Recognizing the proclamation of the Municipal Government Act. L-R: Mayor Iveson, Minister Anderson, Lisa Holmes, president, Alberta Urban Municipalities Association and Al Kemmere, president, Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties.

This is the first time in more than 20 years that wholesale changes have been made to the Municipal Government Act (MGA), which affects the lives of all Albertans by setting the rules for how local governments function and provide services to citizens.

The updated act ensures municipalities are governed in an open and transparent manner, keeps municipal councils accountable, creates a framework for greater regional collaboration and improves the consistency of the municipal revenue framework.

“The last time the laws that guide municipalities were extensively updated was in 1995. At that time, fewer than one in 10 Canadians had a cellphone and the Baltimore Stallions won the Grey Cup. A lot has changed since then, including the needs of our communities. I am proud of the work we’ve done with local governments and stakeholders to modernize the MGA. This updated piece of legislation provides municipalities the tools and resources they need to build strong communities and make lives better for Albertans.”

Shaye Anderson, Minister of Municipal Affairs 

Amendments to the MGA, the rulebook that Alberta’s municipalities use to govern and plan, were made through three bills passed by the legislature since 2015. Changes include:

  • Allowing parental leave for municipal councillors.
  • Requiring training to be offered to municipal councillors.
  • The provincial ombudsman providing oversight of municipalities.
  • Improved regional planning with growth management boards and inter-municipal collaboration frameworks, which will lead to more efficient services for Albertans.

Provisions of the act will come into force in phases, with some happening immediately and others becoming effective on Jan. 1, 2018 and in April 2018.

"Today's proclamation is a positive recognition of the key role municipalities play in working together to benefit the economy of any region. I know my Edmonton Metropolitan Region colleagues and I look forward to continuing to work with our partners at the province to ensure our region contributes to Alberta's sustained economic prosperity."

Don Iveson, mayor of Edmonton

“Albertans expect provincial and municipal governments to work together to achieve the best possible outcomes for communities. I am particularly proud of how AUMA and AAMDC came together to advocate for our members, and I believe this relationship speaks to the spirit of inter-municipal collaboration contained within the new MGA.”

Lisa Holmes, president, Alberta Urban Municipalities Association

“The hard work of the last five years by Municipal Affairs, AAMDC, AUMA and many other committed associations and industries has resulted in legislation that focuses on collaboration. We came to the table with goodwill and we will move forward with those same intentions. However, the work doesn't end here. As this legislation rolls out, AAMDC will continue to monitor the impact and advocate that the Modernized Municipal Government Act continues to meet the changing needs of rural Alberta.”

Al Kemmere, president, Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties

Quick Facts

  • The Municipal Government Act contains 710 sections and is the second-largest piece of legislation in the province.
  • The MGA was amended by three bills over three years: Municipal Government Amendment Act 2015, Modernized Municipal Government Act (2016) and An Act to Strengthen Municipal Government (2017).
  • Municipal Government Amendment Act 2015
    • Initial consultations were held in 2014 with face-to-face sessions in 11 communities, with more than 1,500 Albertans taking part. In addition, there were more than 1,000 responses to an online workbook.
    • Key highlights included conduct of elected officials, open council meetings and subdivision and appeal board training.
  • Modernized Municipal Government Act
    • After first reading of the act in spring 2016, government toured 20 communities throughout the province, conducting open-house meetings. About 2,400 people attended these public meetings, 2,370 questionnaires were completed and 120 submissions were received.
    • The bill was passed in December 2016, expanding the types of projects that could be funded through off-site levies to include fire and police stations, recreation centres and libraries.
  • An Act to Strengthen Municipal Government
    • In November 2016, government released the Continuing the Conversation discussion paper, which addressed a number of additional items that had arisen during the summer consultation tour. Feedback from the discussion paper became the basis for this act, which included the provision of parental leave for municipal councillors.
    • The bill was passed in May 2017.

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