+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution 22-12F

Obligation to Consult

January 1, 2012
Expiry Date:
December 12, 2014
Active Status:
MD of Big Lakes
4 - Northern
Planning and Development
Accepted in Principle
Vote Results:

WHEREAS the Courts have established an “Obligation to Consult” with First Nations; and

WHEREAS this “obligation” is currently poorly defined and extremely unclear as to scope, financial ramifications, process, definitions, and timelines; and

WHEREAS this uncertainty and lack of clarity has damaged and delayed many sectors of the economy, most specifically the energy sector, and represents a substantial impediment to job creation and economic growth;

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties calls upon the Government of Alberta and/or Government of Canada to establish a legislative framework to define this “Obligation to Consult” and that this legislative framework must address the following matters:

  • Establishes terms and conditions respecting who must be consulted with, and under what circumstances, and to provide for a mechanism for the swift disposal of unsubstantiated, frivolous and nuisance claims;
  • Provides cost and time certainty to the process;
  • Ensures a process that provides equal and fair access to employment and project tendering for all Albertans; and
  • Provides for speedy and swift binding arbitration if the parties cannot agree upon the outcome of these “consultations”.
Member Background:

When the courts impose a sweeping change to the legal landscape, as they have with the “Obligation to Consult” – a period of chaos usually results. A period of time when there are no rules, just guiding principles from the courts.

Municipalities, citizens and businesses, are now aware of this “Obligation to Consult”but nobody seems to actually know what this means in hard, practical, real world terms.

  • What constitutes a legitimate First Nations Claim?
  • What constitutes an illegitimate First Nations Claim?
  • Are there cost associated with the process?
  • Can municipalities be forced to pay for consultations?
  • To what degree will First Nations have a “right” to employment on projects?
  • How and under what situations will non-First Nations workers and contractors be displaced and disqualified?
  • What happens if the parties cannot agree?
  • Can the “Obligation to Consult” delay a project forever?

There is a vast list of unknowns and very little that IS known.

By calling upon the Alberta Government to establish a legislated, defined and regulated framework for this “Obligation to Consult” process, to end the vast uncertainty that is standing in the way of many projects, especially in the energy sector, that could create jobs and wealth for many Albertans.

RMA Background:

Resolution 8-09F: THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC), urge the Province of Alberta to clearly articulate its intent and direction with respect to First Nations consultation and where the Government intends to require consultation, that a “one window”, multi-departmental First Nations consultative process be implemented that provides for fair and timely decisions.

Government Response:

The Government of Alberta, led by Aboriginal Relations, is currently reviewing Alberta’s First Nations Consultation Policy on Land Management and Resource Development (Consultation Policy).  To date, Aboriginal Relations appreciates the information provided by Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC) and its members to support the Consultation Policy review.

One of the key goals Alberta is aiming to achieve with the Consultation Policy review is to establish greater clarity and consistency in the consultation process for all parties.  The points raised by the AAMDC in the resolution will assist Alberta in developing the draft Consultation Policy which supports this goal.

Aboriginal Relations looks forward to continuing to work with the AAMDC and its members during the Consultation Policy review and during implementation later in 2013.


In July 2014, Alberta Aboriginal Affairs releases The Government of Alberta’s Guidelines on Consultation with First Nations on Land and Natural Resource Management. The Guidelines outline the process for consultation and includes consultation triggers, the various stages of consultation and processing timelines.  The development of this new policy initiated the creation of the Aboriginal Consultation Office (ACO) which opened in November 2013. The goal of the ACO is to centralize and standardize consultation to the benefit of all parties including industry, governments and First Nations. The AAMDC deems the resolution to be Accepted in Principle due to the advances the government has made to provide tools regarding the obligation to consult and will monitor the implementation of the new Guidelines. 

Provincial Ministries:
Aboriginal Relations
Federal Ministries and Bodies:
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development
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