WHEREAS municipalities share the Government of Alberta’s objective of serving the public good through proper implementation of the Water Act; and
WHEREAS rural municipalities constitute the largest land base in Alberta, and therefore have multiple interactions with Alberta Environment and Parks as they seek Water Act approvals as part of the process to improve infrastructure in their municipalities; and
WHEREAS improving the Water Act approval process will ensure that public dollars are more efficiently applied to the protection and stewardship of water systems in the province while balancing the need for critical upgrades to infrastructure; and
WHEREAS Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) members have previously submitted resolutions requesting Alberta Environment and Parks to reduce the approval timelines associated with Water Act approvals; and
WHEREAS at the Spring 2018 RMA convention, the Minister of Environment and Parks discussed the ongoing review of the Water Act approval process;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta work with Alberta Environment and Parks to provide the rural perspective and input related to streamlining and improving the Water Act approval process.
The Minister and senior officials from Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) have recognized the need to streamline and improve the Water Act approval process. At the Spring 2018 Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) convention, Minister Phillips indicated the Ministry is undertaking a review of its approval process.
It is important that rural municipalities provide insight and perspective on the approval process and work with the Ministry to test its systems improvements. Rocky View County proposes that the RMA represents all rural municipalities in this process review. The intent is that the RMA and AEP work together to meet the purpose of the Water Act to “support and promote the conservation and management of water,” while recognizing the impact of approval delay on the financial and social interests of all Albertans.
4-17F: Water Act Approvals for Municipal Projects on Municipal Land
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Government of Alberta to relax the requirement for formal approvals on all road construction on municipal right of ways less than 40 metres wide and consider alternate strategies for protecting water resources.
DEVELOPMENT: Though the response from the Government of Alberta recognizes the challenges faced by municipalities who are subject to relatively short construction seasons and extensive infrastructure networks, the response does not indicate any change in process or regulation to the extent outlined in the resolution. This resolution is assigned a status of Intent Not Met.
1-16F: Alberta Environment and Parks Approvals for Construction Projects
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties requests that consideration be given to safety concerns related to delayed environmental approval processing and supports the creation of a process for municipalities to receive timely approvals from Alberta Environment with regard to construction projects.
DEVELOPMENT: The Government of Alberta response acknowledges the challenges that municipalities are facing in receiving timely approvals of works related to wetlands. The RMA is encouraged that Alberta Environment and Parks has identified this as a problem and is in the process of developing an updated regulatory process for road works impacting wetlands which will balance provincial and municipal needs regarding regulatory compliance and timeliness. The Government of Alberta has indicated that an Alberta Wetland Construction Directive and Alberta Wetland Construction Guide are forthcoming but have been delayed as of April 2018. The RMA assigns this resolution a status of Accepted in Principle, and will monitor progress made.
Alberta Environment and Parks
Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) recognizes the value of the unique rural perspective that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) has regarding the Water Act approval process and water management in general.
AEP has developed the Environmental Approvals Plan, which will reduce approval times for regulated activities that require approvals through legislation, such as the Water Act, the Public Lands Act and the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.
AEP will be introducing system enhancements and a one-window framework that will be effective, efficient and client-focused through a web-based application platform. This plan will be rolled out over three years. AEP welcomes the opportunity to work more closely with the RMA.
The Government of Alberta response indicates that Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) is in the process of enhancing the Water Act approval system to reduce approval times for activities regulated under the Water Act.
The response also indicates that although RMA was not engaged in the development of any of these improvements, AEP is open to working more closely with RMA moving forward, although it is not clear in what capacity. RMA appreciates this offer, although this resolution is currently assigned a status of Intent Not Met and will be updated based on future collaboration between AER and RMA on addressing Water Act approvals.