Strengthening local elections and councils

The Municipal Affairs Statutes Amendment Act, 2024, (Bill 20) sets new rules for local elections and councils to enhance integrity and maintain public trust.

Status: The Municipal Affairs Statutes Amendment Act, 2024, received Royal Assent on May 30, 2024. 
Ministry responsible: Municipal Affairs


The Municipal Affairs Statutes Amendment Act, 2024, (formerly Bill 20) will enhance the integrity of local elections, strengthen Albertans’ trust in local democracy and help municipalities accelerate housing development.

The Act will amend the: 

  • Local Authorities Election Act, which establishes the framework for the conduct of elections in Alberta municipalities, school divisions, irrigation districts and Metis Settlements 
  • Municipal Government Act, which 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

Albertans provided input to government that helped inform the Act's changes to local elections and councillor accountability through an online survey and targeted engagement sessions in 2023.

Key changes

The Municipal Affairs Statutes Amendment Act, 2024, will amend the following legislation:

  • Local Authorities Election Act

    Changes to local election rules and processes

    Changes will:

    • align candidate eligibility criteria with councillor disqualification criteria in the Municipal Government Act
    • allow municipalities to require criminal record checks for local candidates
    • limit the amount of money third-party advertisers could accept in contributions to $5,000 (previously $30,000)
    • require third party advertisers interested in plebiscites to register and report finances
    • enable regulation-making authority to define local political parties
      • This approach will be piloted in Calgary and Edmonton.
    • require municipalities to use the most current provincial register of electors from Elections Alberta
    • expand the use of special ballots while strengthening special ballot processes
    • limit vouching to the ability to vouch for someone’s address
    • repeal the ability for a candidate or returning officer to object to an elector
    • enable regulation-making authority to postpone elections in emergencies
    • prohibit automated voting equipment, such as electronic tabulators
    • require recounts if requested by a candidate when the margin is within 0.5% of total votes
    • allow union and corporate donations to local candidates
    • allow donations outside the local election year
    • update rules for scrutineers
  • Municipal Government Act

    Changes to municipal councils and councillor accountability

    Amendments to the changes were tabled May 23, 2024.

    Changes will:

    • require a councillor’s seat to become vacant upon disqualification
    • require mandatory orientation training for councillors
    • Amended: allow Cabinet to remove a councillor by ordering a vote of electors to determine whether the councillor should be removed. An elector vote to remove a councillor is limited to councillors who Cabinet consider to be unwilling, unable, or refusing to do the job for which they were elected, or if Cabinet considers such a vote to be in the public interest by taking into consideration illegal or unethical behaviour by a councillor. 
    • allow elected officials to recuse themselves for real or perceived conflicts of interest and clarify that this choice is not subject to third-party review
    • make the Minister of Municipal Affairs responsible for validating municipal recall petitions
    • Amended: enable the provincial Cabinet to require a municipality to amend or repeal a bylaw given one of the following specific requirements are met. Intervention may occur if a bylaw: 
      • exceeds the scope of the Municipal Government Act or otherwise exceeds the authority granted to a municipality under the act or any other statute
      • conflicts with the Municipal Government Act or any other statue
      • is contrary to provincial policy
      • contravenes the Constitution of Canada
    • give the provincial Cabinet authority to direct a municipality to take specific action to protect public health and/or safety

    Changes to help municipalities accelerate housing development

    Changes will:

    • require municipalities to offer digital options for public hearings on planning and development and restrict them from holding extra hearings when not required by legislation
    • fully exempt non-profit subsidized affordable housing from property taxation
    • enable multi-year residential property tax incentives
    • expand the Community Revitalization Levy program to support capital costs of privately owned affordable/attainable housing
    • limit the ability of municipalities to require non-statutory studies as requirements for building and development permits

Learn more about proposed changes in Bill 20. (Amendments tabled on May 23, 2024)

Next steps

We will engage municipalities and other partners over the coming months to explain the changes Bill 20 will require at the local level and develop regulations as required.

Most of the legislation will come into force upon proclamation. Provisions that have property tax implications retain a January 1, 2025, coming into force date.