WHEREAS the Municipal Government Act, RSA 2000, c. M-26, Part 4, Division 6 (the MGA) provides for the annexation of lands by an initiating municipal authority; AND WHEREAS an initiating municipal authority must provide notice and an annexation proposal to the municipal authority from which the land is being annexed, and the municipal authority from which the land is being annexed is required to negotiate the proposal in good faith with the initiating municipal authority; AND WHEREAS if the initiating municipal authority, and the municipal authority from which the land is being annexed cannot negotiate an agreement of all matters in the annexation proposal, they are required to use mediation to resolve those outstanding matters; AND WHEREAS interest-based mediation is a costly and very time-consuming exercise that, however, has many benefits to municipal authorities involved in the annexation process, and allows the parties to resolve their differences and achieve interest-based mediated agreements between themselves; AND WHEREAS municipal authorities involved in mediation need assurance that the Municipal Government Board (the MGB) will honour the intent and terms that arise from the mandatory process; AND WHEREAS the MGB should be required to advise and consult with the municipal authorities about any proposed changes that the MGB may wish to make before making its recommendation to the minister, to provide the municipal authorities the opportunity to negotiate or renegotiate all terms and conditions that will be affected by the MGBs proposed changes;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request that the Government of Alberta legislate provisions in the Municipal Government Act that would require the Municipal Government Board (MGB) to advise and consult with municipal authorities who submit mediated annexation agreements, prior to making its final recommendations to the minister or the Lieutenant Governor in Council, to enable the municipal authorities sufficient opportunity to negotiate or renegotiate terms and conditions that will be affected by the MGBs proposed changes.
As a result of the economic boom in the province of Alberta, many cities and urban centres have experienced rapid growth such that they see a need to annex lands from the adjacent rural municipalities. As a result, several rural municipalities are currently dealing with a large number of annexation proposals. The MGA requires that the municipal authorities involved in annexation must negotiate the annexation proposals, and must use mediation to resolve any outstanding matters wherein agreement cannot be reached through direct negotiations. Mediation, as defined in the MGA, results in significant costs and time commitments by both municipal authorities in order to achieve interest-based mediated agreements. These mediated agreements are useful and beneficial in identifying and balancing the interests of both municipalities and provide the terms and conditions whereby the municipal authorities have agreed to certain lands being annexed, and certain compensation packages being provided as consideration. However, the MGB has the ability to disregard the mediated agreement and replace it with an order that may not incorporate the intent, terms and conditions achieved through mediation.All municipalities should have the opportunity to negotiate or renegotiate their mediated agreements prior to the MGB making a final recommendation to the minister or Lieutenant Governor in Council if significant changes to the mediated agreement are being recommended. This process would enable the municipal authorities to revisit the agreement and ensure that the intent of the mediated contract is intact and that the interests of both parties are balanced and protected.
The AAMDC has no resolutions currently in effect with respect to this issue.However, resolution 10-03S, endorsed by delegates at the spring 2003 convention, urges the government to amend the Municipal Government Act to require any municipality that initiates annexation proceedings to negotiate the proposals in good faith, and to cover all costs, incurred in the negotiation and/or mediation of their annexation proposal by the municipality that lands are proposed to be annexed from. While the response indicated support for negotiations in good faith, the department continues to maintain that each municipality should be responsible for their own costs incurred during annexation proceedings.