Written by: 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. This article focuses on the MGA amendments in force as of April 1, 2018. To see a summary of the MGA amendments which came into force on either October 26, 2017, or January 1, 2018, please see the following articles:
- Select MGA Amendments Proclaimed – What does that mean for you right now?; and
- The Second Round of MGA Amendments – How the provisions in force on January 1, 2018 will impact you.
The amendments to the MGA are significant, and this article focuses on those changes in force on April 1, 2018 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.
INTERMUNICIPAL AND REGIONAL COLLABORATION
- Municipal Purpose (Section 3): The purpose of a municipality now includes “to work collaboratively with neighbouring municipalities to plan, deliver and fund intermunicipal services.”
- Intermunicipal Collaboration Frameworks (Part 17.2 – Division 1): All municipalities will be required to adopt an intermunicipal collaboration framework (ICF) with each municipality they share a common border with by April 1, 2020 (Section 708.28). The purpose of an ICF is:
- a) to provide for integrated and strategic planning, delivery and funding of intermunicipal services;
- b) to steward scarce resources efficiently in providing local services; and
- c) to ensure municipalities contribute funding to services that benefit their residents.
ICFs must be reviewed every 5 years and will not be complete until the municipalities have passed an intermunicipal development plan. While the Minister can exempt a municipality from needing an ICF, an exception for members of growth management boards provides that member municipalities will only need to have an ICF for matters that are not addressed in the growth management plan (Section 708.28(4)). Arbitration will apply to municipalities who are unable to create or review the framework by April 1, 2020 (s.708.34).
- ICF Regulations (AR 191/2017): The ICF Regulations (in force April 1, 2018) provide, among other things: exemptions; duties; alignment of other bylaws; the arbitration process for creating frameworks; the dispute resolution process; and judicial review.
- Mandatory Intermunicipal Development Plans (Section 631): Municipalities with common borders must, by passing a bylaw, adopt an IDP to include the areas of land lying within the boundaries of the municipalities as they consider necessary by April 1, 2020. Municipalities can be exempted from this requirement by the Minister. Arbitration provisions apply here as well if the municipalities are unable to agree on a plan.
- Mandatory Municipal Development Plans (Section 632): Every council of a municipality must, by bylaw, adopt an MDP by April 1, 2021.
- Offsite Levies for Connecting to Provincial Highways (Section 648(2)(c.2): Subject to the regulations, municipalities can now use an off-site levy to pay for all or part of the capital cost of new or expanded transportation infrastructure required to connect, or to improve the connection of, municipal roads to provincial highways resulting from subdivision or development.
SUBDIVISION AND DEVELOPMENT APPEAL BOARD
- Clerk and SDAB Member Training: As of April 1, 2018, a council that establishes an SDAB must appoint one or more clerks of the SDAB (Section 627.1(1)). Clerks must be appointed as a designated officer and will not be eligible for such appointment unless they have successfully completed a training program in accordance with the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board Regulation (AR 195/2017).
SDAB members must also complete training programs before participating in any hearing as a member of a panel of the board. However, pursuant to the SDAB Regulation, there is an exception for current clerks or members of an SDAB (who held such appointment as of April 1, 2018), which allows these parties to continue to act as a clerk or member and complete the training requirements by April 1, 2019. There is also a requirement that all clerks and members complete refresher training programs every 3 years.
- Changes to the Ombudsman Act: The mandate of the Alberta Ombudsman has been expanded to include municipalities under Section 12(1) of the Ombudsman Act (which sets out the functions and duties of the Ombudsman). After April 1, 2018, the Ombudsman will be able to investigate complaints to determine whether a municipality acted fairly and reasonably, and whether its actions and decisions were consistent with relevant legislation, policies and procedures. Making a complaint to the Ombudsman is an option of last resort and the work will focus on procedural fairness (i.e. the process leading to municipal policy decisions, the process for dealing with complaints or concerns by residents, etc.)
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.