IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association request that the Provincial Government amend Section 668 of the Municipal Government Act to enable it to be utilized by municipalities.
WHEREAS Section 668 of the Municipal Government Act allows municipalities to take an additional 5% of municipal and school reserve land in addition to that required under Section 666 of the Municipal Government Act; and
WHEREAS Section 668 of the Municipal Government Act is worded in such a way that makes it impractical for municipalities to make use of the provision.
Currently, municipalities are allowed to take 10% of the parcel of land (less the land required to be provided as an environmental reserve and the land made subject to an environmental reserve easement) as municipal reserve, school reserve, or municipal and school reserve (MGA S.666 (2), 2000). The planning for this is done at the Area Structure Plan (ASP) stage, but the land is taken at the time of subdivision.
Additionally, Section 668 of the MGA allows municipalities to take an additional 5% of municipal and school reserve at densities of 30 or more units per hectare based on a proposed subdivision. Planning for the 5% at the subdivision level has proven too impractical for municipalities to be able to implement for the following reasons:
- Section 668 provides for the acquisition of additional land, but not money in place (cash in lieu);
- Taking the additional land at the subdivision level does not result in usable additional municipal reserve to serve the purposes of a neighbourhood; and
- Taking the additional land at the subdivision level has the potential to require an Area Structure Plan amendment if the municipal reserve taken varies from the ASP.
This is the first time this resolution has been submitted by the City of St. Albert. There was an AUMA resolution passed in 2013 with respect to “School Sites for our Communities Future” which outlined the need for an increase in the initial allowable percentage of municipal reserve land that can be taken from 10% to 15%. This proposed increase did not include the additional 5% that is available to municipalities in higher-density areas. This proposed resolution differs from the former in that it is not seeking to increase the percentage of municipal or school reserve, it is seeking to amend a section of the MGA to enable municipalities to practically implement it.
The City of St. Albert raised this issue in the course of the MGA Consultations conducted by Municipal Affairs. The Ministry acknowledged that municipalities are not using the additional 5% made available to them in Section 668 and asked why. The City of St. Albert hosted a session in January 2016 with the Cities of Edmonton, Leduc, Spruce Grove, Red Deer, and Airdrie and invited representatives from the Provincial Government. The issue of why municipalities are not using Section 668 was subsequently more thoroughly examined, and it was determined that because of the wording specifying the 5% be taken based on densities at the subdivision level, it is impractical for municipalities to implement.
The Minister of Municipal Affairs responded on January 25, 2018 with the statement that municipal reserve allocations were discussed extensively during the MGA review, and that no further changes are being considered.
As well, the Minister noted that some amendments were made through the MGA that allow more flexibility in the reserve assembly process, specifically with respect to larger regional projects. The change the Minister referred to is the ability for municipalities to take half of the currently allocated 10 per cent reserve land as cash by way of a “reserve land assembly area contribution”. These funds can be used to assemble larger school sites and/or parks. half of the currently allocated 10 per cent reserve land as cash by way of a “reserve land assembly area contribution”. These funds can be used to assemble larger school sites and/or parks.
After further AUMA advocacy, the Minister of Municipal Affairs sent AUMA a letter on September 11 indicating that his ministry is willing to work with AUMA to develop guidance on the potential taking of additional reserve land in accordance with Section 66 of the MGA.
Representatives from Municipal Affairs attended the June 15, 2018 Municipal Governance Committee meeting to discuss this issue, and indicated that the current wording should be sufficient to utilize the S. 668 tool if correctly utilized.
Given the ongoing confusion prevalent in a number of municipalities as to how S. 668 can be applied, the Committee opted to recommend that the AUMA Board urge the province to develop guidance resources to illustrate how the tool can be used. AUMA sent a letter to the Minister of Municipal Affairs to this end on August 17, 2018.
Based on the response received from the Minister on September 11, AUMA discussed the potential of a guidance document with staff from Municipal Affairs. Ministry staff committed to further reviewing the provisions and consider draft a brief guidance document. They committed to providing AUMA an update in December, 2018.