Overview

A viability review is a process that helps municipalities determine their ability to continue as a municipality or develop a plan that leads to viability.

The process brings decision makers together and empowers communities to make decisions about their future through collaboration and cooperation.

The review analyzes the municipality's:

  • governance
  • finances
  • infrastructure
  • services

The review evaluates if a municipality is viable and can provide recommendations to achieve this. It’s not meant to examine municipal councils or administrative practices.

Each viability review is unique to the specific municipality and the length of time varies dependent upon multiple factors, including the completion of the infrastructure audit and council and staff vacancies. The typical viability review timeline is 20 months.

Cost

The cost of a review varies depending on the complexity and time it takes to complete.

Costs are distributed between Municipal Affairs, municipalities and municipal associations as follows.

Municipal Affairs

  • ministry staff time and materials for researching, writing, printing and distributing information and reports
  • the cost of public meetings and community engagement activities
  • a municipal grant to pay for the infrastructure audit

Municipalities

  • costs of municipal staff to compile information
  • travel costs to meetings
  • costs of additional council meetings
  • remuneration for councillors to attend review meetings

Municipal associations

  • travel costs to meetings and remuneration for association representatives to attend review meetings

Review process

Step 1. Begin a review

A review can be started in one of 3 ways:

Council request

Councils can write to the Minister of Municipal Affairs to request a review if:

  • they have completed the self-assessment questionnaire
  • they have implemented the mitigation tools found in the capacity building toolkit
  • they believe the municipality is in jeopardy or no longer sustainable

A completed self-assessment questionnaire must be included with the written request.

Citizen petition

Citizens of a municipality can petition the Minister of Municipal Affairs to begin a review.

To petition the minister, citizens must complete a petition that includes:

  • the signatures of 30% of the municipality’s eligible voters (50% of eligible voters for summer villages)
  • a statement of representative of petitioners
  • an affidavit for each person that witnessed signatures

All legislated requirements for petitions are outlined in the information handout on petitions.

Before starting a petition, citizens should contact the Municipal Viability Team by phone at 780-427-2225 or email at viabilityreview@gov.ab.ca.

Minister’s discretion

The Minister of Municipal Affairs can initiate a viability review if they believe it’s warranted.

Step 2. Ministry screening

After a council request or citizen petition, a screening will be completed to help the minister decide if a review or another process is necessary. This can involve staff gathering information and documents to understand any issues and why the request or petition was made.

Step 3. Information collection

If the minister decides a viability review is necessary, information will be collected to be analyzed by a viability review team.

The review team includes representatives from:

The information collected for review comes from:

  • ministry staff
  • information supplied by the municipality being reviewed
  • information supplied by the receiving municipality
  • the municipality’s infrastructure assessment or audit
  • stakeholder engagement and community involvement, which can include:
    • written submissions
    • surveys
    • open houses
    • public meetings

During a review, municipalities can apply for funding through the Alberta Community Partnership program to pay for the completion of an infrastructure assessment.

Step 4. Recommendations and options

After the review, the viability review team provides a report to the municipality.

The report includes 2 options for the municipality:

  • recommendations for the municipality to reach viability
  • a description of the changes and impacts to residents if the municipality was dissolved

The report is also sent to residents and presented at a public meeting.

Residents and the municipality under review, as well as the receiving municipality, have 30 days to provide written comments, including their preferred option, to the minister.

Step 5. Public vote

If after reviewing comments of residents and councils, the minister decides a vote will be held, it is administered by Municipal Affairs staff in accordance with the Local Authorities Election Act (LAEA).

To be eligible to vote, a person must be:

  • at least 18 years of age
  • a Canadian citizen
  • a resident of Alberta and their place of residence is located in the local jurisdiction on election day
  • According to the LAEA, residents of another municipality, or who own property but whose primary place of residence is not in that municipality, are not eligible to vote
    • a person’s primary residence is usually the one to which their tax returns are addressed,is on their driver’s licence, or the address their mail is addressed and delivered

In order to vote, eligible electors must produce identification for inspection. Acceptable forms of identified can be found here: Voter Identification Requirements

A public vote is held on the following 2 options:

  1. Implement changes to achieve viability, or
  2. Dissolve and become part of a neighbouring municipality

If a majority of residents vote for option one (implement changes), the minister may issue directives which the review municipality must comply with. If the majority of residents vote for option 2 (dissolve), minister is required to recommend dissolution to the provincial cabinet, who will then make the final decision on dissolution.

For more information about dissolution, see the Dissolution section on Municipal restructuring.

Depending on the outcome of the vote, the minister will either issue a ministerial directive or recommend municipal dissolution to the cabinet, who will make the final decision to dissolve the municipality.

Active viability reviews

Town of Manning

Current status

  • An initial public information session for Manning residents and property owners will be held on March 10, 2020. See the notice below for details.
  • On June 3, 2019, the minister approved that a viability review will be undertaken for the Town of Manning, as the result of a request from the Town of Manning Council.

Public notices and reports

Village of Bawlf

Current status

  • The minister approved a viability review on October 24, 2018 for the Village of Bawlf. The village was approved for infrastructure study funding through the Alberta Community Partnership grant on January 23, 2019.

Past activities

  • A viability screening of the Village of Bawlf was conducted in August 2018, following a sufficient resident petition.

Public notices and reports

Village of Cereal

Current status

  • The viability review team (VRT) continues to meet to review and analyze the governance, operational capacity, finances and infrastructure of Cereal.
  • A comprehensive viability report will be provided to residents and property owners when the VRT concludes its work.

Past activities

  • A community information meeting was held on January 15, 2020 to provide residents with information on the viability review and to receive community input.
  • A viability screening of the Village of Cereal was conducted in April 2018, following assessment of the Key Measures for Success.
  • The minister approved on June 13, 2018 that a viability review will be undertaken for the Village of Cereal. The village was approved for Alberta Community Partnership funding for the infrastructure study on September 25, 2018.

Public notices and reports

Village of Dewberry

Current status

The minister approved a viability review will be undertaken (in response to a council request and after a viability screening) and infrastructure study funding through the Alberta Community Partnership grant on January 23, 2019.

Public notices and reports

Village of Wabamun

Current status

  • An initial public information session was held on January 20, 2020. Residents and property owners were provided general information about the viability review process and what they can expect. Residents and property owners were also asked to provide preliminary input into the development of the viability review report. Additional input related to the viability review can be provided by email to viabilityreview@gov.ab.ca.
  • On November 1, 2019, the minister approved that an expedited viability review will be undertaken for the Village of Wabamun.

Public notices and reports

Completed viability reviews

Town of Grande Cache

The Town of Grande Cache was dissolved and became part of the Municipal District of Greenview on January 1, 2019.

Public notices and reports

Town of Granum

The Town of Granum was dissolved and became part of the Municipal District of Willow Creek on February 1, 2020.

Public notices and reports

Village of Berwyn

Current status

Following a vote of electors in which electors voted to remain a village, the minister provided the Village of Berwyn with directives through a Ministerial Order to ensure continued viability. The village will continue to report on the implementation of the directives until June 2023.

Public notices and reports

Village of Champion

Current status

The minister decided on December 11, 2018, based on the input from the public and the VRT, a vote would not be conducted and viability directives were issued.

The village completed its update regarding progress on the minister’s directives in May 2019 and will provide annual updates until June 1, 2023.

Public notices and reports

Village of Clyde

Current status

The minister reviewed the council decision and the recommendations from the VRT and issued directives (MO No: MSL:054/16) to the municipality. The village is providing annual reports until June 1, 2021 to the ministry on the completion of the directives.

Public notices and reports

Village of Ferintosh

The Village of Ferintosh was dissolved and became part of Camrose County on January 1, 2020.

Public notices and reports

Village of Gadsby

The Village of Gadsby was dissolved and became part of Stettler County on February 1, 2020.

Public notices and reports

Village of Hill Spring

Current status

The minister issued directives (MO No: MSL:122/17) to the municipality on December 19, 2017.

The village is directed to develop an action plan (including timelines) as to how the council plans to address each of the recommendations in the viability plan, to prepare a 10-year capital plan, and to provide copies of the 2 plans to Municipal Affairs.

The village is to report to the ministry annually, until June 1, 2023, on the progress of the implementation of the plans.

Public notices and reports

Village of Hussar

Current status

The minister issued directives (MO No: MSL:072/18) to the municipality on October 3, 2018.

The village is directed to develop an action plan (including timelines) as to how the council plans to address each of the recommendations in the viability plan, to prepare a 10-year capital plan, and to provide copies of the 2 plans to Municipal Affairs.

The village is to report to the ministry annually, until June 1, 2023, on the progress of the implementation of the plans.

Public Notices and Reports

Village of Innisfree

Current status

Following a vote of electors in which electors voted to remain a village, the minister provided the Village of Innisfree with directives through a Ministerial Order to ensure continued viability. The village will continue to report on the implementation of the directives until June 2023.

Public notices and reports

Questions about the viability review can be directed to Municipal Sustainability.

Village of Rycroft

Current status

The minister issued directives (MO No: MSL:055/18) to the municipality on July 19, 2018.

The village is directed to develop an action plan (including timelines) as to how the council plans to address each of the recommendations in the viability plan, to prepare a 10-year capital plan, and to provide copies of the 2 plans to Municipal Affairs.

The village is to report to the ministry annually, until June 1, 2023, on the progress of the implementation of the plans.

Public notices and reports

Contact

Connect with Municipal Sustainability:

Phone: 780-427-2225
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Email: viabilityreview@gov.ab.ca