WHEREAS Alberta Agriculture and Forestry is the wildfire authority under the Forest and Prairie Protection Act in the Forest Protection Area (FPA) in Alberta; and
WHEREAS during times of high wildfire hazard, the Government of Alberta may issue a fire restriction or fire ban within the FPA including the hamlets that fall within this area; and
WHEREAS an urban municipality (defined as a city, town, village, summer village, or urban service area of a specialized municipality) in the FPA has the authority to issue its own fire bans within its boundaries; and
WHEREAS hamlets are also areas where there is a concentration of people and residential dwellings; and
WHEREAS the Municipal Government Act (MGA) states that the council of a municipal district or specialized municipality may designate an unincorprated community within its boundaries as a hamlet if the unincorporated community meets certain density thresholds; and
WHEREAS the MGA allows for the council of a municipal district to pass a bylaw respecting fires that applies to the part of a hamlet that is within the FPA; and
WHEREAS the Municipal Government Act does not allow for the council of a specialized municipality to pass a bylaw respecting fires that applies to the parts of a hamlet that is within the FPA; and
WHEREAS the Forest and Prairie Protection Act also does not clearly define a municipal district, other than it includes a special area, and does not provide any definition of a specialized municipality;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta advocate to the Government of Alberta to amend necessary legislation (including the Municipal Government Act and/or the Forest and Prairie Protection Act) to clarify that councils of municipal districts and specialized municipalities may make decisions on fire bans in hamlets within the Forest Protection Area.
Mackenzie County falls entirely within the Forest Protection Area and as such is banned from any fires, including campfires, during a provincial fire ban.
The wildfire risk in Mackenzie County hamlets is extremely low based on the topography of the land. Each community has a volunteer fire department and inspections are completed by the Fire Chief prior to any fire pit approval. Mackenzie County has been accredited pursuant to Section 26 of the Safety Codes Act in the fire discipline since 1995. Additionally, members are also involved in the Wildland Urban Interface planning, training, and support.
Two other municipalities lie within our boundaries and are exempt based on their urban municipality status. This causes great dissention when similar communities in the same geographical area fall under different rules.
Mackenzie County’s official status, as established by Order in Council (OC), was changed from a municipal district to a specialized municipality on June 23, 1999. No urban service area has been established or defined in the OC.
RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.