Minister Anderson and his children at the 2017 Canadian Ringette Championships in Leduc. Changes to the MGA will allow more regional collaboration on recreation needs. – GOA photo

by Morinville News Staff

The government says the Act to Strengthen Municipal Government proposes practical changes to help municipalities build stronger and more sustainable communities for Alberta families.

The MGA is Alberta’s second-largest piece of legislation. The government is proposing changes to the Municipal Government Act (MGA) they say reflect the input received from municipalities, community organizations, Indigenous groups, school boards, small businesses, industry and the public. This data was collected since the government released a discussion guide last November.

Government officials travelled to 20 communities across the province last summer, hearing about the MGA from more than 2,400 Albertans through 21 public sessions.

“We’re listening to Albertans and responding to their ideas for how our government can make practical changes that make their lives better,” said Shaye Anderson, Minister of Municipal Affairs. “These changes will make a real difference for how municipalities collaborate on what is important to families and communities. I am very proud to be proposing the final touches to this legislation as we approach the finish line for the MGA review.”

An Act to Strengthen Municipal Government proposes amendments to the MGA that would augment relationships between municipalities and Indigenous communities, including a notification requirement that Alberta would be the first province to legislate.

The bill would also make Alberta the first province to let neighbouring municipalities collaborate on off-site infrastructure, including recreation centres and libraries that benefit Albertans in a region. The amendments also include changes to strengthen collaboration between school boards and municipalities.

Lisa Holmes, president, Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, said collaboration ensures strong communities and an increased quality of life for Albertans.

“Local governments can advance cost-effective regional approaches for infrastructure and service delivery through new tools such as inter-municipal off-site levies and greater use of joint use agreements with school boards,” Holmes said in a government news release. “We appreciate that the province adjusted many of its initial approaches for the bill to ensure the provisions are more practical for municipalities.”

However, Holmes was less favourable in a release from the AUMA.

Although AUMA recognized that Bill 8 addressed some of the MGA’s shortcomings and allowed for greater regional collaboration, there is a concern it does nothing to stabilize municipal funding so municipalities can plan for their community’s infrastructure and service requirements.

“It is unrealistic to require municipalities to prepare three-year operating and five-year capital plans when we are so reliant on provincial grants that are changed without any notice,” Holmes said in the release. “That’s why we are disappointed that the province is ignoring our request to embed in the legislation a requirement for a three-year notice of municipal funding changes.”

The government has introduced changes to the act in three stages: The first set in the Municipal Government Amendment Act in March of 2015; the second set in the Modernized Municipal Government Act in May of 2016; and the current proposed changes in An Act to Strengthen Municipal Government.

For more information on the current set of changes, visit http://mgareview.alberta.ca/whats-changing/.

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