October 26, 2017, was a very important day for Alberta municipalities and our citizens, as the provincial government proclaimed the new modernized Municipal Government Act. AUMA, driven by all its member municipalities, played a formative role in developing the new Act over the past several years. The new Act is in a large part based on countless submissions from our member municipalities, consultation sessions held at AUMA Conventions and Mayors’ Caucuses, and hours spent by municipal elected officials and administrators on AUMA Committees and Board.
Key new tools have been enabled for municipalities including expanded offsite levies for recreation centres, fire halls, police stations and libraries, and intermunicipal collaboration frameworks that provide a platform for improved planning and more efficient and equitable provision of services between municipalities. New local governance provisions have been developed that will build upon the relationship of trust citizens have with their municipal governments. These changes from inception through to the small details were steered by input from the AUMA membership.
This level of direct municipal involvement in reviewing the Act would not have been possible without building a strong, collaborative relationship with the provincial government. Throughout the review process, the province undertook the most extensive engagement with municipalities in the province’s history. Collaboration between our two levels of government has helped us take steps towards a legislative framework that will enable municipalities to be sustainable and effective into the future.
Bolstering this government-to-government collaboration was a strong effort between AUMA and the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties to present a unified municipal voice. Our associations worked tirelessly to identify solutions to issues that face all municipalities in Alberta – urban and rural – and multiple joint submissions formed the foundation for many key legislative changes. The AUMA is very proud of what we accomplished together and we believe this relationship between our two organizations speaks to the spirit of collaboration and cooperation contained within the MGA.
October 26 was an important step forward, but it is just one step. Municipalities have concerns remaining with many of the provisions which will need to be addressed. As well, further work remains in smoothing out the details in some regulations Continued partnership between the AUMA, AAMDC, the province, and other associated organizations, will be required to ensure these changes enable municipalities to meet the evolving needs of our citizens.
Given the strain that new requirements will put on municipalities on top of an already challenging fiscal environment, one of our main priorities will be pushing for a new fiscal relationship with the province. Establishing a sustainable and sufficient funding model for municipalities is vital to ensuring Albertan communities remain healthy and prosperous into the future.
Alongside advocating for further changes, AUMA is working to provide resources to help municipalities adapt to the amended Act, including templates for codes of conduct and public participation policies, case studies of Intermunicipal Collaboration Frameworks, and detailed explanations of all the changes. For more information on AUMA’s work to date, click here to view our Municipal Government Act website.
Thank you to our members, along with the staff of the AUMA, AAMDC, Alberta Municipal Affairs, and everyone else involved in contributing to the modernization of the Municipal Government Act. There may be more work to do, but we should all be extremely proud of the work that has been done and how far we have come.