In a democratic society, Albertans expect their local elections to be free and fair, and their elected officials to be held to account by clear rules that govern their local councils. The Municipal Affairs Statutes Amendment Act proposes amendments to the Local Authorities Election Act (LAEA) and the Municipal Government Act (MGA) to add greater transparency to local election processes and ensure local councils and elected officials continue to remain accountable to the citizens who elected them.

“Our government is committed to strengthening Albertans’ trust in their local governments and the democratic process that elects local leaders. The changes we are making increase transparency for Alberta voters and provide surety their votes will be counted accurately. We know how important local democracy is to Albertans, and we will work with local authorities to protect and enhance the integrity of local elections.”

Ric McIver, Minister of Municipal Affairs

Local Authorities Election Act

Albertans expect free and fair elections and that’s why it’s important we strengthen the rules that govern local elections. To strengthen public trust in local elections, Alberta’s government will eliminate the use of electronic tabulators and other automated voting machines. All Albertans should be able to trust the methods and results of local elections; requiring all ballots to be counted by hand, clarifying rules and streamlining processes for scrutineers will provide voters greater assurance in the integrity of the results.

All eligible Albertans should be able to vote in local elections without impediment. Alberta’s government will limit the barriers for eligible voters to cast a ballot by expanding the use of special ballots. Currently, special ballots can only be requested for very specific reasons, including physical disability, absence from the municipality, or for municipal election workers. By expanding the use of special ballots, the government is encouraging more voter participation.

Amendments in the Municipal Affairs Statutes Amendment Act would increase transparency in local elections by enabling political parties at the local level. Political parties would be enabled in a pilot project for Edmonton and Calgary. The act will not require candidates to join a political party in order to run for a local or municipal office, but will create the opportunity to do so.

In addition, proposed changes to the Local Authorities Election Act would allow municipalities the option to require criminal record checks for local candidates, thus increasing transparency and trust in candidates who may go on to become elected officials.

Municipal Government Act

The role of an elected official is one with tremendous responsibility and expectations. Changes proposed to the Municipal Government Act (MGA) will strengthen the accountability of locally elected officials and councils. These include requiring mandatory orientation training for councillors, allowing elected officials to recuse themselves for real or perceived conflicts of interest without third-party review and requiring a councillor’s seat to become vacant upon disqualification.

If passed, the Municipal Affairs Statutes Amendment Act will also unlock new tools to build affordable and attainable housing across Alberta. Proposed amendments under the MGA would also create more options for municipalities to accelerate housing developments in their communities. Options include:

  • Exempting non-profit, subsidized affordable housing from both municipal and education property taxes;
  • Requiring municipalities to offer digital participation for public hearings about planning and development, and restricting municipalities from holding extra public hearings that are not already required by legislation; and
  • Enabling municipalities to offer multi-year residential property tax exemptions.

Municipal Affairs will engage municipalities and other partners over the coming months to hear perspectives and gather feedback to help develop regulations.

Quick facts

  • The LAEA establishes the framework for the conduct of elections in Alberta municipalities, school divisions, irrigation districts and Metis Settlements.
  • The MGA establishes the rules governing the conduct of local elected officials once on council, as well as the overall administration and operation of municipal authorities in Alberta, including any policy those authorities may wish to implement.

Related information