NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Alberta Urban Municipal Association request the Government of Alberta to create legislation that provides incentives and financial support that encourages municipal amalgamations to create specialized municipalities and regional municipal governments for those interested municipalities where all parties agree to the process.
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association request the Government of Alberta to seek expressions of interest from municipalities that would consider amalgamation.
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED THAT that the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association request the Government of Alberta to recognize an independent expedited amalgamation process for those interested municipalities.
WHEREAS a successful province is based on successful communities;
WHEREAS urban municipalities are increasingly questioning their financial viability and community sustainability as infrastructure deficits continue to grow and service levels continue to be more difficult to sustain;
WHEREAS the Government of Alberta needs to adopt a more modern approach to municipal government recognizing the concept of a “complete community” that incorporates urban centers including rural counterparts as a community node where people live, work, play and do business;
WHEREAS prosperity and assessment disparities between municipalities continue to raise concern;
WHEREAS many of the Government of Alberta’s granting formulas do not properly reflect the inequities between municipalities;
WHEREAS other legislation and technologies affecting municipal governments continue to evolve, in turn impacting service delivery in municipalities;
WHEREAS municipalities need to have adequate and appropriate population, supply and mix of assessment, and supply of various land uses to provide essential infrastructure and services to their citizens and anticipated future economic growth; and
WHEREAS the Government of Alberta is conducting a review of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) to ensure that modern, effective and leading-edge legislation is in place for the municipalities, citizens, and businesses of Alberta.
Currently, municipalities including villages, towns, cities, counties, and municipal districts are service delivery corporations. They are corporate entities based on an antiquated model that today, no longer serves purpose to the true definition of communities.
Hundreds of years ago with limited transportation, urban municipalities were hubs where people lived, worked, played and did business. Communities often grew centered around train stops, or popped up in relation to how far one could travel in a days time. Eventually municipal corporations were formed to provide services and planning for these communities and thus premised the system of governance that the Province of Alberta is centered around today.
Times have changed, however, and humanity has too evolved whereby technology is rapidly making the world a much smaller place. The definition of a 'complete community' bares little resemblance to the boundaries of the corporate entities we use today. Large cities may be made up of many different communities, or neighborhoods, each with very distinct identities. In other areas of the province, the population of a number of urban centers and a rural area may blend together to form one community, one that works together, recreates together, and supports one another both economically and socially.
This evolution has caused a major shift in how the municipal corporate entities function, often times having several municipal corporations providing services to what is actually a 'complete community'. Municipal boundaries have become nothing more than a hindrance to an economy, an environment, and a community that clearly lives, works and plays across municipal boundaries.
To this point, the provincial government has done nothing more than the 'propping up' of a system of century old corporate units that no longer make sense. Measures such as redistribution of revenue, additional grants or encouraging partnerships only serve to paper over the inherent inefficiency of the current structure and can leave municipalities wasting precious time and resources offering a duplication of services and navigating what can be tenuous relationships.
To continue along this path no longer makes sense and we must be willing to examine the possibility of starting over, creating municipal corporations that can be best managed in a way that will provide long term viability and sustainability, as well as planning that supports economic growth, environmental stewardship, and a more functional and fluid system of service delivery.
The Government of Alberta is reviewing the MGA to ensure that modern, effective, and leading-edge legislation is in place for municipalities, citizens and businesses. Providing an avenue for willing participants to investigate options that will better serve our regions and our people is the first step in ensuring we build a system that is meant to serve for the realities of today, and for the future.
The province supports local autonomy in decisions relating to regional partnerships and amalgamation. As the MGA is reviewed, issues related to municipal co-operation and municipal restructuring will be reviewed.
AUMA considers this response.