WHEREAS Albertas Municipal Government Act provides for the annexation of lands from one or more municipalities to another municipality; AND WHEREAS the Municipal Government Act requires that the initiating municipality must provide written notice to, amongst other agencies, the municipality from which the land is proposed to be annexed;AND WHEREAS the Municipal Government Act requires that the municipal authorities from which the land is to be annexed must, on receipt of such notice, meet with the initiating municipal authority to discuss the proposals included in the notice and negotiate the proposals in good faith;AND WHEREAS there is no such requirement for the initiating municipality to negotiate in good faith;AND WHEREAS the municipality that has received an annexation notice must apply both personnel and financial resources to annexation negotiations and must respond to the timing of negotiations and/or mediation as determined by the annexing municipality;AND WHEREAS the reallocation will result in delays or abandonment of work program and projects that would normally be undertaken by the municipality and result in considerable financial and operational hardship to the municipality;AND WHEREAS the Municipal Government Act currently does not provide for costs incurred by the municipality that has received an annexation notice, which are associated with the annexation proposal, to be paid by the initiating municipality.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Government of Alberta to amend the Municipal Government Act to require any municipality that initiates annexation proceedings to negotiate the proposals in good faith;AND FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Government of Alberta to amend the Municipal Government Act to require any municipality that initiates annexation proceedings to cover all costs, both direct and indirect, incurred in the negotiation and/or mediation of their annexation proposal by the municipality that lands are proposed to be annexed from, regardless of the final outcome of annexation proceedings.
Annexations are typically initiated by urban municipalities while the lands proposed for annexation typically come from rural municipalities. For the purpose of this background discussion, the municipality that initiates the annexation proceedings will be identified as the urban municipality and the municipality from which the lands are proposed to be annexed from will be identified as the rural municipality.The rural municipality is compelled to meet with the urban municipality initiating the annexation proposal and bargain in good faith within the timelines proposed by the urban municipality. For the rural municipality, subsequent negotiations can have a severe impact on established work programs and services to ratepayers. This situation can be compounded by the fact that rural municipalities may be faced with dealing with more than one annexation. While an urban municipality will typically only be dealing with one annexation, the one it has initiated, a rural municipality could be forced to respond to annexation requests from one or more urban neighbours. The Municipal Government Act gives guidance throughout that municipalities have equal powers and opportunities to one another. One glaring exception is in respect to annexation. Here, the Act directs that the rural municipality must bargain in good faith with the urban municipality. The Act is silent however regarding the actions of the urban municipality. An amendment to the Municipal Government Act that makes it clear that both municipalities must bargain in good faith would instill more fairness into the process and bring the annexation section more in line philosophically with the rest of the Act.An urban municipality may take several years to prepare for an annexation, while a rural municipality will be expected to respond to an annexation notice and begin negotiations within weeks or months depending on the timelines set out by the urban municipality. The rural municipality will also require staff or consultation to evaluate the documentation provided by the urban municipality to support the annexation request. The rural municipality may also identify a need to have additional studies undertaken to assist the municipality that contains the lands that are proposed to be annexed from in analyzing the proposal. All of this takes time and money that the rural municipality otherwise would direct toward completing important municipal projects or providing enhanced services to ratepayers. Finally, there may be additional staff and professional consultant costs, including legal, associated with any annexation agreements or hearings.While it may be possible to negotiate compensation for these expenses and hardships, the Municipal Government Act does not specifically require the urban municipality to compensate the rural municipality for losses or expense incurred, both directly and indirectly, as a result of the annexation. An amendment to the Municipal Government Act that clearly establishes the responsibility of the urban municipality to pay these costs or reimburse the rural municipality would add more clarity and equity to the annexation process.
The AAMDC has no resolutions currently in effect with respect to this issue.