Written by: Rebecca Kos & Keegan Rutherford
On October 26, 2017, the Province approved three Orders in Council, proclaiming the majority of the amendments to the Municipal Government Act (the “MGA”), into force either as of October 26, 2017, January 1, 2018 or April 1, 2018. These amendments are passed through the following three new Acts:
- Municipal Government Amendment Act, SA 2015 c 8 (previously Bill 20);
- Modernized Municipal Government Act, SA 2016 c 24 (previously Bill 21); and
- An Act to Strengthen Municipal Government, SA 2017 c 13 (previously Bill 8).
While we will provide updates on the changes coming into force in 2018 in a future bulletin, this article focuses on the amendments that are in force as of Thursday, October 26, 2017. The amendments to the MGA are significant, and consequently, we focus on those changes that are in force and most likely to affect the regular operations and practices of municipalities. If you require further assistance in determining which amendments are currently in force, and what these changes mean for your municipality, please contact one of our Municipal Team members through the link at the bottom of this article.
- In addition to those items already provided under Section 3, the purpose of a municipality now includes “to foster the well-being of the environment”.
COUNCILLOR MATERNITY AND PARENTAL LEAVE
- Bylaws Respecting Maternity and Paternal Leave (Section 144.1): Municipal councils now have the authority to pass bylaws with respect to whether councillors are entitled to take leave prior to or after the birth or adoption of their child.
COUNCILLOR CODE OF CONDUCT
- Mandatory Councillor Code of Conduct (Section 146.1): Municipal councils must, by bylaw, establish a code of conduct governing the conduct of councillors by July 23, 2018. The code of conduct will need to address items provided within the Code of Conduct for Elected Officials Regulation, AR 200/2017. A bylaw establishing a code of conduct governing the conduct of members of council committees and other bodies established by the council who are not councillors may be passed, but is not required.
INFORMATION PROVIDED TO COUNCILLORS
- Duty of Chief Administrative Officer (Section 153.1): Where one or more councillors obtain information about the operation or administration of the municipality from the CAO or a person designated by the CAO, there is now an obligation to provide that information to all other councillors as soon as is practicable.
PUBLIC PRESENCE AT MEETINGS
- Process and Procedure (Section 197(4) and (5)): Under section 197, before closing all or any part of a meeting to the public, council or council committees must, by resolution:
a) approve the part of the meeting that is to be closed, and
b) identify the basis on which the part of the meeting is to be closed.
Further, after the closed meeting discussions are completed, any members of the public who are present outside the meeting room must be notified that the rest of the meeting is now open to the public, and a reasonable amount of time must be given for those members of the public to return to the meeting before it continues.
- Attendance of Other Persons at In Camera Meetings (Section 197(6)): Council or council committees may allow one or more other persons to attend a closed meeting but the minutes of the meeting must record the names of those persons and the reasons for allowing them to attend.
- Public Participation Policy (Section 216.1): Every municipality must have a public participation policy in place by July 23, 2018. Under the Public Participation Policy Regulation, AR 193/2017, the policy must identify:
a) the types or categories of approaches the municipality will use to engage municipal stakeholders, and
b) the types or categories of circumstances in which the municipality will engage municipal stakeholders.
The council of the municipality may amend the public participation policy from time to time but must review it at least once every 4 years. The policy must be available for public inspection.
- Deposits (Section 270): Municipalities must ensure that all money belonging to or held by the municipality is deposited in a bank, credit union, loan corporation, treasury branch or trust corporation designated by council.
REQUIRED CORPORATE PLANS
- Financial and Capital Plans (Section 283.1): Municipalities must prepare a written plan respecting its anticipated financial operations over a period of at least the next 3 financial years (which will be referred to as the municipality’s “financial plan”) and a written plan respecting its anticipated capital property additions over a period of at least the next 5 financial years (which will be referred to as the municipality’s “capital plan”). The first financial plans will need to be prepared by the end of 2019 (Municipal Corporate Planning Regulation, AR 192/2017).
- Inspections and Inquiries (Sections 571 and 572): A ministerial inspection with respect to the management, administration or operation of a municipality may now be initiated on the request of a petition of the electors equal to 20% of the population or, in the case of a summer village, 30% of the number of summer village residences. Further, inquiries are now limited to those being called on the Minister’s initiative.
- Enforcement Powers (Section 574): The Minister’s enforcement powers have been expanded where there is a failure to comply with a Ministerial order to include, amongst other things: suspending the authority of the council to make bylaws; exercising bylaw making authority in respect of matters for which bylaw making authority for the council is suspended; withholding money otherwise payable by the Government; repealing, amending and making policies and procedures for the municipal authority; or suspending the authority of a development or subdivision authority and providing for a person to act in its place. However, the Minister must now give the municipal authority notice of the intended order and at least 14 days to respond prior to making such an order.
- Advertisement Bylaw (Section 606.1): A council may now, by bylaw, provide for one or more methods, which may include electronic means, for advertising proposed bylaws, resolutions, meetings, public hearings, and other things referred to in Section 606. In order to do so, the council must be satisfied that the method is likely to bring such matters to the attention of substantially all residents in the area to which the bylaw, resolution or other thing relates or in which the meeting or hearing is to be held.
DOCUMENTS VIA ELECTRONIC MEANS
- Service of Documents (Section 607): Service of documents on the municipality may be done by way of electronic means where done in accordance with a bylaw made by the municipality.
- Sending Documents (Section 608): Documents that must be sent in accordance with the MGA or a regulation or bylaw made under the MGA may now be sent via electronic means if:
a) the recipient has consented to receive documents from the sender by those electronic means and has provided an e-mail address, website or other electronic address to the sender for that purpose, and
b) it is possible to make a copy of the document from the electronic transmission.
In the absence of evidence to the contrary, a document sent by electronic means in accordance with the requirements noted is now presumed to have been received 7 days after it was sent unless regulations made by the Minister provide otherwise.
- School Boards (Section 648(1.1)): Off-site levies may not be imposed on land owned by a school board that is to be developed for a school building project within the meaning of the School Act.
- Expanded Off-Site Levies (Section 648(2.1)): An off-site levy may be used to pay for all or part of the capital cost (including the cost of any related appurtenances and any land required for or in connection with the purpose) for any of the following additional purposes: new or expanded community recreation facilities; new or expanded fire hall facilities; new or expanded police station facilities; or new or expanded libraries. In addition to items such as consultation and annual reporting requirements, the principles and criteria for establishing off-site levies are provided under the Off-Site Levies Regulation, AR 187/2017.
- Intermunicipal Off-Site Levies (Section 648.01): 2 or more municipalities may provide for an off-site levy on an intermunicipal basis. This allows a benefiting area to extend across more than one municipality. Further, the Off-Site Levies Regulation noted above provides additional principles and criteria to apply to intermunicipal offsite levies.
INTERMUNICIPAL COLLABORATION FRAMEWORKS (“ICFs”)
- ICF Regulations (AR 191/2017): Part 17.2 of the MGA dealing with ICFs will be in force on April 1, 2018 and will require municipalities with a common border to create a framework with each other within two years of the section coming into force. ICFs will address the sharing of services on an intermunicipal basis. The Province has now approved ICF Regulations (which also come into force on April 1, 2018) that can provide guidance to municipalities with respect to how to deal with the upcoming ICFs, including, among other things: exemptions; duties; alignment of other bylaws; the arbitration process for creating frameworks; the dispute resolution process; and judicial review.
COLLABORATION WITH INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES
- Notification (Section 636): Municipalities are now required to notify the Indian band of any adjacent Indian reserve, or any adjacent Metis settlement, of new municipal development plans and area structure plans. The Indian band or Metis settlement will then be provided opportunities to make suggestions and representations regarding the new plans.
- Conservation Reserves (Section 664.2): Municipalities may designate land for a Conservation Reserve (CR) in order to protect environmentally significant features.
SECTION 645 STOP ORDERS AND DEVELOPMENT PERMIT APPEALS
- Drafting Stop Orders (Section 645): Stop Orders issued pursuant to section 645 must specify the date on which the order is made and must be given or sent to the person or persons to whom the Stop Order is issued on the same day the decision is made.
- Appealing Stop Orders (Section 686): The time period for appealing a Stop Order is now 21 days from the date on which the order is made, as opposed to the previous 14 days from the date on which the person is notified of the order.
- Issuance of Development Permits (Section 642): A decision of a development authority on an application for a development permit must now specify the date on which the decision was made and must be given or sent to the applicant on the same day the decision is made.
- Development Permit Appeals (Section 686): The time period for appealing a decision on a development application is now 21 days from the date the decision is made or, where no decision is made, from the date the time period for making a decision expires. Similarly, the appeal period for persons who are affected by a development permit is also now 21 days after the date on which the notice of the issuance of the permit was given in accordance with the municipality’s land use bylaw.
- Complete Subdivision Applications (Section 653.1):
- A subdivision authority must within 20 days after receipt of an application for subdivision approval determine whether the application is complete. This time period may be extended by an agreement in writing between the applicant and subdivision authority, or in accordance with the municipality’s land use bylaw.
- If no decision is made within 20 days or within some other time period agreed to, the application is deemed to be complete.
- If the subdivision authority determines that the application is complete, the subdivision authority must issue an acknowledgment that the application is complete.
- If the subdivision authority determines that the application is incomplete, the subdivision authority must issue a notice that the application is incomplete and that any outstanding documents and information referred to in the notice must be submitted by a date set out in the notice or a later date agreed upon in order for the application to be considered complete. If the information is not submitted on or before the set date, the application is deemed refused. In this case, the subdivision authority must issue a notice that the application has been refused and the reason for refusal.
- A decision of the subdivision authority is required to state:
- Whether an appeal lies to the SDAB or the MGB; and
- If an application for subdivision approval is refused, the reasons for the refusal.
- Subdivision Approval: In addition to the prior requirements under Section 654, the subdivision authority must not approve an application for subdivision approval unless the proposed subdivision confirms to the provisions of any growth plan under Part 17.1 of the MGA.
- Complete Development Applications (Section 683.1):
- A development authority must within 20 days after receipt of an application for a development permit determine whether the application is complete. This time period may be extended by an agreement in writing between the applicant and development authority, or in accordance with the municipality’s land use bylaw.
- If no decision is made within 20 days or within some other time period agreed to, the application is deemed to be complete.
- If the development authority determines that the application is complete, the development authority must issue an acknowledgment that the application is complete.
- If the development authority determines that the application is incomplete, the development authority must issue a notice that the application is incomplete and that any outstanding documents and information referred to in the notice must be submitted by a date set out in the notice or a later date agreed upon in order for the application to be considered complete. If the information is not submitted on or before the set date, the application is deemed refused. In this case, the development authority must issue a notice that the application has been refused and the reason for refusal.
- The 40 day time period during which a development authority must make a decision on the application for a development permit starts from the date of receipt by the applicant of an acknowledgement of completeness issued in accordance with section 683.1 or in accordance with the municipality’s land use bylaw.
HIERARCHY OF PLANS
- Plans Consistent (Section 638): The MGA now identifies a hierarchy of statutory plans whereby, to the extent of a conflict or inconsistency:
- An intermunicipal development plan will prevail over a municipal development plan, area structure plan or area redevelopment plan; and
- A municipal development plan will prevail over an area structure plan or area redevelopment plan.
If you have questions with respect to this bulletin, please contact any member of our Municipal Team.
Modernized municipal laws ensure accountability and collaboration, while helping to build stronger communities.