WHEREAS under the Municipal Government Act (MGA), municipalities in Alberta are responsible for the “direction, control and management of all roads within the municipality”; and
WHEREAS in accordance with section 22 the MGA, no road in a municipality that is subject to the direction, control and management of the municipality may be closed except by bylaw, or where council determines that a road that is described in a surveyed road plan is no longer required for use by the travelling public because an alternate route exists, then by resolution; and
WHEREAS no road may be closed by resolution or by bylaw unless the resolution is approved by the Minister of Transportation, or in the case of a bylaw, before it receives second reading; and
WHEREAS seeking the Minister’s approval is a lengthy process, normally requiring months or even years; and
WHEREAS in accordance with section 188 of the MGA, if a bylaw does not receive its third reading within two years of its first reading, it is deemed to have expired; and
WHEREAS road closure files have previously been lost or misplaced by Alberta Transportation, which requires municipalities to re-start the process;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) requests that the Government of Alberta streamline the Minister of Transportation’s approval processes associated with municipal road closures;
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the RMA requests that the Government of Alberta create a digital tracking system that would ensure bylaws or resolutions are not misplaced or lost by Alberta Transportation.
Municipalities frequently entertain requests for the legal or permanent closure of road allowances. Such road closures involve a multi-step process under the Municipal Government Act (MGA).
If a municipal council wishes to entertain a road closure, the municipality will typically draft the road closure bylaw. Required information in the bylaw includes a bylaw number, the name of the road authority (municipality), purpose of the closure (create title, disposal (sale), or lease), advertising (including the name of the publication(s) and dates published (see section 606 of the MGA), and a description of the proposed road closure.
A municipal council must give the first reading of the bylaw prior to submitting the signed and dated original bylaw proposing closure to Alberta Transportation for approval. Such an approval process typically takes months or years, as a matter of course.
Upon transmission of bylaws to Alberta Transportation, Smoky Lake County has experienced several of these files “going missing.” The loss is unlikely to be discovered within the allotted two years within which the bylaw is “alive” and before it has automatically expired without having received second and third readings. This necessitates that the process begins over again, having wasted time and money.
RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.