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WHEREAS a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Government of Alberta and the cities of Edmonton and Calgary (the three parties) was entered into in 2012 to explore options for the establishment of a legislative framework for the two cities that recognizes the evolving needs of each city’s individual relationship with the Government of Alberta; and
WHEREAS the Framework Agreement for Charters was established in 2014 to renew the intent of the MOU and identify the phases of discussion; and
WHEREAS the three parties have stated that a new legislative framework that adequately recognizes the capabilities and responsibilities of the cities is required; and
WHEREAS a change to the legislative framework involving the Municipal Government Act has the potential to affect all municipalities; and
WHEREAS the three parties have identified existing legislation respecting land-use planning as an obstacle to the cities’ growth and development; and
WHEREAS the creation of city charters may have unintended consequences regarding land-use planning, the use of planning instruments (area structure plans, intermunicipal development plans, etc.), and decision making in neighbouring municipalities; and
WHEREAS a change to the fiscal framework between the three parties has the potential to affect all municipalities; and
WHEREAS other areas referenced in the Framework Agreement for possible inclusion in a charter, such as the use of municipal reserve land or determining when farm land should be regarded as developable, are of importance to all municipalities; and
WHEREAS many of the areas referenced in the Framework Agreement may be best located within the Municipal Government Act; and
WHEREAS there has been no identified consultation process with other municipalities; and
WHEREAS the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties represents the interest of rural municipalities and its residents;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Government of Alberta invites participation of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties in city charter discussions.
In 2013, the Government of Alberta launched a review of the Municipal Government Act (MGA). This review and the outcomes it produces will have an impact on all of Alberta’s municipalities.
As representatives of Alberta’s municipalities, the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC) and the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Government of Alberta that outlines the relationship between municipalities and the province during this review, and the legislative timeline.
In fall 2014, the Framework Agreement for Charters was created to renew the intent of the 2012 memorandum of understanding (MOU) enabling the cities of Edmonton and Calgary to explore options for a legislative framework developed with the Government of Alberta that acknowledges the evolving needs of each city. The Framework Agreement includes an identification of the overarching vision and principles guiding the relationship between Edmonton, Calgary and the Government of Alberta (the parties). The Framework Agreement further highlights the following components:
In March 2014, the Government of Alberta passed Bill 20: Municipal Government Amendment Act which enabled the creation of city charters at the request of the City of Edmonton and the City of Calgary. These charters are expected to provide Alberta’s largest cities with policy tools unique to the rest of Alberta’s municipalities in order for these cities to manage the growth pressures and challenges their municipalities face. Bill 20 also enables charters for Alberta’s other mid-sized cities.
The discussions of the city charters are in their preliminary stages and the details of the agreements and unique policy tools are unknown. However, given the regional impact of Alberta’s large and medium sized cities on rural municipalities, it is important that rural municipalities have a voice in these discussions. Based on the Framework Agreement, any charters resulting from this agreement are to be reviewed every five years.
Therefore we ask that the AAMDC, as the representative of Alberta’s rural municipalities, be present during discussions regarding all city charters.
DEVELOPMENTS: The AAMDC has been a participant of the MGA review elected officials working groups and a variety of other sub-groups that have gathered stakeholder perspectives throughout the legislative review. The AAMDC has asked to be a participant or observer in the charter discussions to ensure rural interests are represented; however, the Minister has indicated this is will not be the case but that all matters that impact rural municipalities will be brought to the MGA elected officials working group for further discussion with the AAMDC.
Municipal Affairs: The Government of Alberta is working with the cities of Calgary and Edmonton to develop city charters. City charters will address the cities’ unique challenges and opportunities and will provide the cities with the tools they need to provide quality infrastructure and services to their citizens, as well as manage growth.
City charters apply within the boundaries of the City of Calgary and the City of Edmonton respectively. Regional collaboration will be achieved through growth management boards for the Edmonton and Calgary metropolitan regions. Policy direction applicable to all municipalities will be accounted for within the Municipal Government Act Review, allowing charters to focus on the unique authorities appropriate for big cities.
In July 2015, the Minister of Alberta Municipal Affairs advised the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC) that it will not be included in city charters discussions with the province and the cities, but that there is a firm commitment to engage stakeholders and the public in charters as they are developed.
The AAMDC will be invited to attend all such engagement sessions.
In addition, the province is legally required to post the charters on Municipal Affairs’ website for at least 60 days prior to Cabinet approval. This will afford additional opportunity for feedback.
Through the review of the Municipal Government Act, the Government of Alberta has committed to working with Edmonton and Calgary to develop city charters that reflect their unique needs as metropolitan areas. The AAMDC has supported this process with the understanding that any additional tools or powers allotted to the two metropolitan areas would not come at the cost of the local autonomy of the neighboring rural municipalities.
The AAMDC believes that the development of city charters and the unique powers and responsibilities they will afford Edmonton and Calgary will impact surrounding municipalities in ways not anticipated by the cities and the Government of Alberta. The impacts of decision-making and planning within one municipality regularly spills across municipal boundaries, and the implementation of city charters will be no exception.
The AAMDC has taken the opportunity to provide comment on the proposed City Charter Regulations released in the summer of 2017. There are a number of additional powers and tools presented in the regulation that the AAMDC feels should be expanded to all municipalities in Alberta.
Other than this action, the AAMDC has not been involved in the city charter discussions, and assigns this resolution a status of Intent Not Met.