Municipalities have new rules to follow

Above: Recognizing the proclamation of the Municipal Government Act. L-R: Mayor Iveson, Minister Anderson, Lisa Holmes, president, Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties and Al Kemmere, president, Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties. – GOA Photo

by Morinville News Staff

For the first time in more than two decades, the province has made significant changes to the Municipal Government Act (MGA), legislation that sets the rules for how local governments function and provide services to residents. Those wholesale changes to the MGA have now been proclaimed as law.

The government says the updated act ensures municipalities are governed in an open and transparent manner, keeps municipal councils accountable, creates a framework for greater regional collaboration and improves the consistency of the municipal revenue framework.

“The last time the laws that guide municipalities were extensively updated was in 1995,” said Minister of Municipal Affairs Shaye Anderson in a release Thursday. “At that time, fewer than one in 10 Canadians had a cellphone and the Baltimore Stallions won the Grey Cup. A lot has changed since then, including the needs of our communities. I am proud of the work we’ve done with local governments and stakeholders to modernize the MGA. This updated piece of legislation provides municipalities the tools and resources they need to build strong communities and make lives better for Albertans.”

Three Bills have been passed by the government since 2015 to lead to Thursday’s final approval.

Changes include allowing parental leave for municipal councillors, requiring training to be offered to municipal councillors, the provincial ombudsman providing oversight of municipalities, and improved regional planning with growth management boards and inter-municipal collaboration frameworks. The government believes the latter will lead to more efficient services for Albertans.

Provisions of the act will come into force in phases, with some happening immediately and others becoming effective on Jan. 1, 2018 and in April 2018.

Alberta Urban Municipalities Association President and former Morinville Mayor Lisa Holmes said Albertans expect provincial and municipal governments to work together to achieve the best possible outcomes for communities.

“I am particularly proud of how AUMA and AAMDC came together to advocate for our members, and I believe this relationship speaks to the spirit of inter-municipal collaboration contained within the new MGA,” Holmes said.

Al Kemmere, president of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties agrees.

“The hard work of the last five years by Municipal Affairs, AAMDC, AUMA and many other committed associations and industries has resulted in legislation that focuses on collaboration,” Kemmere said. “We came to the table with goodwill and we will move forward with those same intentions. However, the work doesn’t end here. As this legislation rolls out, AAMDC will continue to monitor the impact and advocate that the Modernized Municipal Government Act continues to meet the changing needs of rural Alberta.”

The Municipal Government Act contains 710 sections and is the second-largest piece of legislation in the province.

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