Alberta’s Municipal Government Act (MGA), which gives municipalities the rules under which they are to operate, has been under review since 2012 and now residents are being asked to provide their feedback on proposed changes.
An online discussion guide – Continuing the Conversation – is an abridged version of the Modernized MGA, introduced in the Alberta Legislature in May as Bill 21.
Residents wishing to provide their comments can do so via an online questionnaire until Jan. 31, 2017.
“The last major review of the MGA was completed more than two decades ago and does not reflect new economic realities, changes in technology or evolving municipal roles or relationships,” Municipal Affairs Minister Danielle Larivee said.
Consultation with residents, municipal governments and businesses was done over the summer with more than 2,400 people attending sessions and more than 2,300 surveys were returned.
“Airdrie sent in a list of 20 to 25 different recommendations and I believe they’ve taken a number to heart,” Mayor Peter Brown said.
“They also had a community meeting – we were in Cochrane for our piece. You could also submit online. There was lots of opportunity to participate.”
As a result of this consultation, Larivee said revisions were being made to the proposed MGA, including to the offsite levies municipalities can charge developers to allow the building of new firehalls, libraries, recreation centres and similar community amenities.
Currently, offsite levies can only be used to build roadways, water, stormwater and sewer systems.
“Alberta’s growth has created a demand for community facilities and services outside these four infrastructure pillars,” she said.
“Bill 21 proposed that levies for these new facilities could only be applied if the new development received at least 30 per cent of the benefit of those facilities. During our consultation tour, we heard very clearly that municipalities felt a 30 per cent threshold would disadvantage smaller municipalities.”
The amendment removed the 30 per cent threshold allowing all municipalities access to use offsite levies for the building of community facilities.
Brown said he welcomed this change.
“We really have never been able to go in that direction (before),” he said.
“Some of the recommendations within this framework will allow us to collect dollars that would otherwise not be available to us.”
Other proposed revisions to the MGA included issues to do with government collaboration, planning and development and technical issues, according to Larivee.
The Continuing the Conversation discussion guide includes ideas and issues brought up during the summer consultation, which Larivee said she wanted all Albertans to learn about and provide feedback on.
“Inside the guide you’ll find bold, new policy ideas that are innovative and forward looking,” she said.
“Included in these proposals are measures designed to strengthen collaboration between school boards and municipalities, to enable better relationships between municipalities and their indigenous neighbours, to allow municipalities to create parental leave policies for councils and to empower municipalities to take a greater role in protecting the environment and combating climate change.”
According to Larivee, feedback collected through the online questionnaire will be used to determine if further amendments to the MGA are required.
“I think they’re going to be streamlining a lot of things that were really unnecessary,” Brown said.
“I believe this will make it easier to read. The MGA is fairly complex and a lot of things sometimes contradict each other. I’m glad (the Province is doing this). The document is old. It needs to be upgraded.”