+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution 4-13F

Amend The Municipal Government Act to Provide Protection from Liability for Municipal Maintenance to the Physical Edge of Provincial Highways

October 10, 2013
Expiry Date:
December 1, 2016
Active Status:
MD of Willow Creek
Municipal Governance and Finances
Intent Not Met
Vote Results:

WHEREAS the Municipal District of Willow Creek has maintained provincial rights of way, up to the physical edge of provincial highways, since its incorporation in 1954; and

WHEREAS it has been brought to the attention of rural municipalities, through the AAMDC RiskPro Program, that there is a pending legal action, as the result of a traffic accident,  against a municipality involving maintenance of the road surface (grading, graveling and snowplowing) to the physical edge of a provincial highway; and

WHEREAS the right of way owned by the Province  between a municipal (local) roadway and a provincial (three digit) highway is approximately 30 to 50 meters back from the physical edge of the provincial highway, on either side of intersections; and

WHEREAS it would be impossible to ensure that the municipal road maintenance equipment would not encroach on to the provincial right of way, and it would create significant logistical problems to deliver regular road maintenance and create dangerous safety issues if the municipality left 30 to 50 meters of unplowed, ungraded or un-graveled road surface leading up to the physical edge of a provincial highway;

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties lobby the Province of Alberta to amend the Municipal Government Act, immediately, to provide protection to rural municipalities from any and all liability associated with road maintenance, carried out by municipalities, within the provincial right of way leading up to the physical edge of provincial highways.

Member Background:

There is a case winding its way through the Alberta legal system, where a serious accident took place at an intersection of a municipal gravel road and a provincial highway.  The Province’s legal counsel has taken the position that the County may be liable because the County is not able to prove that it contacted the Provincial contractor regarding a downed sign and further that the County was encroaching in the 30 to 50 meter provincial right of way during the course of its regular road maintenance.

The burden placed on municipalities to ensure that they do not encroach on provincial rights of way not only reduces the level of maintenance, it increases the potential for serious accidents and with that, the legal exposure municipalities would face by lifting the blades of their maintenance equipment to avoid the provincial right of way (30 to 50 meters on both sides) leaving the surface ungraded, un-graveled or unplowed.   The potential for accidents and injury to the travelling public if the right of way is left in a state of disrepair or covered in ice and snow would be astronomical.  There is no logical, practical or reasonable argument to be made to suspend municipal maintenance in provincial rights of way when over 100 intersections would be affected in the MD of Willow Creek, alone.    Section 18 (1) of the Municipal Government Act may be a logical place for an amendment to address this matter

RMA Background:

The AAMDC has a number of active resolution requesting amendments to the MGA, however, none directly related to this issue. 

Government Response:

Municipal Affairs: Stakeholders have an opportunity to provide input into the Municipal Government Act (MGA) Review on this and other matters in a variety of ways, including regional sessions for municipalities, business, industry and the public in early 2014, and through the website www.mgareview.alberta.ca, which was launched in November 2013.  The details for the regional sessions are posted on the website.

Transportation: Transportation values the work that municipalities do to ensure that local roads leading to the highway network are maintained.  It has been a long-standing, but unofficial, agreement that municipalities are welcome to do maintenance within Alberta’s right?of?way up to the edge of the highway when they are doing the same work on their own local road.  As municipalities provide input to Municipal Affairs on changes to the MGA, those concerned about liability may enter into a Highway Maintenance Agreement with Transportation in the interim.  Municipalities interested in this can contact their regional offices in order to receive further information.


While the option of entering into a Highway Maintenance Agreement with Alberta Transportation may be a short-term solution for some municipalities, a legislative solution that automatically protects municipalities from liability related to maintenance in provincial highway rights-of-way is necessary. As such, the government response to this resolution is assigned a status of Intent Not Met. The AAMDC will address this issue during the final MGA consultation process in the summer of 2016.

Provincial Ministries:
Municipal Affairs
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