NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT AUMA urge the Government of Alberta to improve the Viability Review process and ensure it is used only for financial viability issues and to review the MGA to ensure clear, appropriate and effective alternative governance, particularly with Division 5 amalgamation including voluntary amalgamations where municipal boundaries are not contiguous.
WHEREAS AUMA participated in the Municipal Sustainability Strategy Working Group (MSSWG) which provided input to the Minister of Municipal Affairs for the development of a strategy to improve the long-term viability of municipalities across the province;
WHEREAS the scope of the MSSWG’s activities included a review of the following:
• What constitutes a viable and sustainable municipality and how should this be measured?
• What restructuring processes should be used?
WHEREAS the MSSWG recognized that many of Alberta’s smaller municipalities have experienced a continuing population decline over the past decade and some have seen reductions in their local assessment base and therefore require additional tools to enhance overall municipal sustainability;
WHEREAS the MSSWG agreed that a proactive and holistic “Municipal Viability Process” should be developed to support those municipalities experiencing sustainability challenges through assisting them in identifying and evaluating options for their future with a focus on finding solutions through a strong partnership of neighbouring municipalities, municipal associations and Municipal Affairs; more community engagement and involvement, including neighbouring municipalities; community development and community identity; and developing a suite of solution-focused options including, but not limited to restructuring, for a municipality whose sustainability and/or viability is in jeopardy;
WHEREAS the resulting MSS developed in 2010 included a proposed Municipal Viability Process comprised of:
• the use of a municipal sustainability self-assessment toolkit;
• a Viability Review which would replace the current dissolution study process;
• an implementation plan;
• an evaluation of the implementation; and
• any further actions required flowing from the evaluation, and stated that the process would be triggered by any of the three following circumstances:
• performance on key measures
• citizen petition for a viability review
• voluntary decision by a municipality;
WHEREAS the MGA was amended in 2013 to replace the previous dissolution process with the new Viability Process which was then used to review several municipalities who may have potential viability issues and/or were considering a voluntary amalgamation with another municipality;
WHEREAS AUMA wrote to the ministry in August 2013 to outline the need for improvements to the new Viability Process and to provide clear and effective processes for voluntary amalgamations; and
WHEREAS The AUMA Board approved a resolution for the 2013 Convention to formalize our request to the province on this matter.
The Deputy Minister of Municipal Affairs recently invited AUMA to provide the specific legislative changes that would be required to implement our suggested improvements relating to amalgamation.