Analysis and advocacy related to the Municipal Government Act (MGA) is a key priority for AUMA, as the MGA governs the way that municipalities plan, manage, and pay for services for their residents. AUMA was a leading voice in advocating for changes to the Act throughout the decades-long review process, which culminated in the Proclamation and Coming into Force of the consolidated version of the revised MGA in on October 26, 2017. AUMA is continuing to promote the need for additional changes; provide input on the development of associated regulations; and develop resources to assist with change management. This page provides a single window for MGA-related information and resources developed by AUMA.
Municipal Sustainability Initiative
One of the principles that underpinned AUMA’s work on the MGA review is that local governments must have predictable, diverse, and sustainable sources of revenue in order to deliver local programs, services, and infrastructure. An important step towards this is for the province to adopt a legislated funding program to replace the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI), which expires in 2021. This would ensure that municipalities are able to more accurately predict their future funding allocation, which is a vital need given the new requirements in the MGA to complete three-year operating and five-year capital plans.
During AUMA’s 2018 Annual Convention, AUMA members adopted a Board sponsored resolution calling for the Government of Alberta to legislate and index annual funding under a new infrastructure program. AUMA is diligently advocating for the province to engage municipalities in working out the details of a new legislated funding program.
Taxation of Cannabis Grow Operations
A major outcome of the MGA review process is the phase out of the taxation of farm buildings by 2022. Urban municipalities currently tax farm buildings, which include structures like barns, at 50 per cent of their assessed market value. While AUMA disagrees with the decision to phase out this taxation in general, a particularly important issue has arisen given the legalization of cannabis. Cannabis grow operations are proliferating throughout the province. These high-tech operations are massive in scale, with examples the size of 21 football fields.
Given the industrial scale of these enclosed operations, a large proportion of the property value is tied up in the structures themselves. However, an oversight in the Matters Relating to Assessment and Taxation (MRAT) Regulation has introduced confusion as to whether these properties are to be considered “agricultural”. If classified as agricultural, they will fall under the phase-out of farm building taxation, representing a major loss of taxation for municipalities.
It is inappropriate for industrial-scale cannabis grow operations to operate tax-free, as they require significant municipal servicing. If these operations are not taxed, homeowners and other businesses will be forced to subsidize the cannabis industry. AUMA has been advocating for the province to address this issue through immediate amendments to the MGA and MRAT regulation that ensure cannabis grow operations are assessed and taxed at fair market value. During AUMA’s 2018 Annual Convention, members passed a resolution reiterating the urgent need for the province to take action.
There are further regulatory issues that still need to be finalized. Visit the Regulatory Changes Page to learn more about AUMA’s ongoing work on Property Assessed Clean Energy Financing, Inclusionary Housing, and tax exemptions.
MGA Change Management Resources
With the support of Municipal Affairs, AUMA and RMA (formerly AAMDC) are collaborating to develop change management resources to support municipalities in implementing new requirements under the revised MGA. AUMA and RMA provided input to Municipal Affairs to help develop Implementation Fact Sheets that set out these requirements, including implementation deadlines.
Based on input from members, the first tools that AUMA and RMA developed include:
- Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework Workbook;
- Councillor Codes of Conduct: A Guide for Municipalities;
- Councillor Code of Conduct Bylaw Template;
- Public Participation Policies and Public Notification: A Guide for Municipalities;
- Public Participation Policy Template;
- Public Notification Bylaw Template.
For more information on these tools, visit AUMA’s dedicated MGA Change Management webpage.