+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution 25-06F

Definitions for Municipalities

January 1, 2006
Expiry Date:
December 1, 2009
Active Status:
Municipal Governance and Finances
Vote Results:

WHEREAS with the adoption of the new Municipal Government Act in 1995, the Province demonstrated leadership in allowing all municipalities the opportunity to choose their own future, andWHEREAS the Province has acknowledged through its own studies that cooperation among municipalities is not only important but also achievable, andWHEREAS the ‘Alberta Advantage’ exists to serve the people of the Province including their lifestyle choices, andWHEREAS the Municipal Government Act prescribes the criteria for the formation of urban municipalities and also provides for the creation of specialized municipalities that the Minister may recognize as not fitting the criteria for the prescribed urban communities and municipal districts, andWHEREAS in an effort to create and maintain sustainable communities, urban and rural municipalities are actively pursuing innovative styles of planning, such as smart growth options, new strategic planning and open space plans, andWHEREAS many hold the view that the current options of annexation, amalgamation or regional government may not be the best vehicles for the future, and that other models should be explored that focus more on incentives for efficient provision of infrastructure and services rather than on municipal boundary line adjustments.

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that principles that foster balanced opportunities among all municipalities for growth and development that contribute to the ability to create and maintain sustainable communities and lifestyle choices for the people who call Alberta home continue to be enshrined in the Municipal Government Act and guide its interpretation and implementation.BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT should there be a need or desire to assign different definitions or criteria to municipalities, then those definitions or criteria should reflect and be based on these principles.

Member Background:

WHAT DEFINES AN URBAN MUNICIPALITY?The Cities of Airdrie and Lethbridge have proposed the following resolution, AUMA Resolution 2006.A.1, be considered at the 2006 Fall AUMA Convention: “Now therefore be it resolved that Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, for the benefit of the public interest of all Alberta, define what an urban community is and how it is different from a rural municipality, and the request the Province of Alberta to incorporate these definitions into legislation.”The resolution, if adopted, could have a substantial impact on rural municipalities; therefore, it is believed that a ‘rural’ perspective and response to the proposed resolution that also considers the people of Alberta is required.

RMA Background:

The AAMDC has no resolutions currently in effect with respect to this issue.Resolution 10-03S, however, regarding Annexation Proceedings urges 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 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.The government responded that it is of the view that the reference to negotiating in good faith should apply equally to both the initiating authority and the authority from which land is to be annexed. There are provisions for mediation and a hearing before the Municipal Government Board where such issues may be addressed. However, the Government of Alberta is prepared to monitor this issue and put it on the list of potential amendments to be considered when the Municipal Government Act is next opened formally for amendments.On the matter of costs, the department notes that initiating municipalities also incur costs in preparing for annexations. The department acknowledges that rural municipalities can sometimes be in the situation of having to respond to more than one annexation at once. The extent to which the municipality commits resources to initiate or respond to annexations, however, is within the control of that municipality, and it is appropriate that the municipality be responsible for these costs. Extraordinary circumstances may warrant special assistance, but should not warrant a change in the general procedures.Also, resolution 23-04F regarding Annexation Procedures urges the Government of Alberta to require the initiating municipality of annexation proceedings to provide a consultant mutually agreed to by both parties to do an independent study on the growth needs of both municipalities and the financial impact on both municipalities prior to the commencement of negotiations.The provincial government declined to support this resolution.


The AAMDC will continue to advocate for diverse and equal municipalities throughout Alberta. The different needs that rural and urban municipalities face continue to be an issue throughout the province. The provincial government has recognized this with an ever-greater emphasis placed on sustainability and regional cooperation. In response, the association will continue to ensure that rural Alberta has a strong voice, while working with the province to move the us forward.

Provincial Ministries:
Municipal Affairs
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