Province announces important changes to MGA
Thursday, Apr 13, 2017 06:00 am
The provincial government introduced a number of amendments in the legislature April 10 to the modernized Municipal Government Act (MGA), aimed at strengthening municipal governments.
“These latest amendments to the MGA will make our communities stronger and more sustainable,” said Minister of Municipal Affairs Shaye Anderson during a press conference. “We listened to Albertans. We are acting on what we heard. We are working to have the modernized MGA and its regulations come to force before this fall’s municipal elections.”
The MGA, which gives municipalities the rules under which they are to operate, has been under review since 2012. An online discussion guide – Continuing the Conversation – an abridged version of the modernized MGA, was introduced in the Alberta Legislature in May 2016 as Bill 21 and Albertans were encouraged to provide their feedback. The MGA was passed in the legislature in December 2016.
The changes announced April 10 are, in part, a result of public consultation undertaken by the province. One of the changes is the introduction of tools to allow more women to serve on elected municipal councils, including encouraging local governments to enact parental leave policies to make serving on a council more practical and attractive.
“Our elected councils need to better reflect the communities they serve, including young people, new families and women,” Anderson said. “Half of Alberta’s population are women but right now in Alberta, women only make up 25 per cent of municipal councillors and 23 per cent of municipalities in this province do not have a single woman on them.”
Airdrie Mayor Peter Brown said city staff and council supported that piece of the legislation.
“The implementation and how that will look, there’s really been no detail. There’s still a lot of questions and we’re a long way from that legislation being passed. It will be up to the next council as to whether or not they want to pass a bylaw to allow for those things,” Brown said.
“We put in a number of recommendations – all of them were supported by the province and we supported what they gave us. This was part of that – our community said, ‘yes.’”
The amendments also include tools for municipalities and school boards to work together.
“We heard from municipalities and schools boards – especially the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) – that we can do better in how school sites are planned in certain communities,” Anderson said. “That’s why this bill proposes that municipalities and school boards enter into joint use planning agreements to work together on integrated long-term planning for school sites. This will be good for students, their families and all communities.”
Mary Martin, ASBA president, said she welcomed the changes to the MGA announced April 10.
“Minister Anderson spoke to collaboration as being central to this agreement. As the president of the ASBA – which represents the 61 public, separate, francophone school jurisdictions – I can tell you that we value that a great deal,” she said. “We told the minister it was important to our member school boards that joint use and planning agreements be mandatory, and we’re happy to see this requirement in the proposed legislation.”
This is the first significant review of the MGA in approximately 20 years. Government officials have consulted extensively with Albertans, according to Anderson, including travelling to 20 communities across the province in the summer of 2016 and holding 21 public sessions, which drew the participation of approximately 2,400 citizens.