WHEREAS both the Government of Alberta and Alberta’s municipalities are committed to govern in a way that best serves the people of Alberta; and
WHEREAS both parties share a responsibility for funding and providing services utilized by Alberta residents and businesses; and
WHEREAS to maintain essential municipal services, municipalities require financial stability and adequate notice of potential provincial policy or legislative changes with significant impacts on municipal finances;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta advocate that the Government of Alberta amend the Municipal Government Act to provide a mandatory notice period of one year before implementing any action that will have the specific and direct effect of decreasing revenue or increasing required expenditures for municipalities.
Provinces and municipalities in other parts of the country have, through legislation and memorandums of understanding (MOUs), developed a process of mutual respect, accountability and a recognition of the importance of cooperation while achieving win/win solutions.
Recent actions by the Government of Alberta will produce extreme financial shortfalls leading to the reduction and removal of municipal services and further unintended consequences. Many municipalities will be required to mitigate these loses by raising their tax rates to their citizens, small businesses and industries.
The enclosed resolution simply provides an opportunity for municipalities to work with the Government of Alberta and be partners in achieving solutions that support the needs of Albertans without creating negative financial extremes and hardships for municipalities.
The result of this formal collaborative arrangement will enhance due process which benefits both parties and most importantly all Albertans, whom we all serve.
5-18S: Provincial Government Consultation and Communication Protocol with Municipalities
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) appeal to the Government of Alberta to establish and maintain a uniform consultation and communication protocol with municipal elected officials which is applicable to all provincial bodies;
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that through this consultation and communication protocol, the Government of Alberta recognizes and acknowledges the legislated significance of municipal elected officials, and that the Government of Alberta engage municipalities openly and transparently to provide input and feedback on the consultation and communication protocol from inception through to implementation.
Click here to view the status and government response to this resolution
Alberta Municipal Affairs
The Government of Alberta recognizes municipalities as key partners in providing services for Albertans and facilitating economic growth and prosperity. The government strives to work collaboratively with municipal governments and associations as much as possible—most recently exemplified by consultation on amendments to the planning and development provisions of the Municipal Government Act during spring/summer 2020. The RMA and other municipal associations received comprehensive consultation documents and participated in thorough discussions with department staff and industry stakeholders to help inform proposed legislative changes.
The Government of Alberta is not prepared to amend the Municipal Government Act to incorporate a mandatory one-year notice period for any changes affecting municipal revenues or costs. While the government fully supports the importance of the provincial-municipal partnership, the challenges facing Alberta are urgent, and solutions cannot always wait a year or more for implementation. Instead, the Government of Alberta will continue its commitment to early engagement with municipal leaders whenever and wherever possible.
The Minister of Municipal Affairs is directly responsible for working with municipalities and their associations, and is committed to making time to discuss issues and opportunities directly with municipal leaders. Other government ministers are similarly open to meeting with municipal representatives on specific issues wherever possible. In addition to the standard engagement processes already employed by the Government of Alberta, municipalities are encouraged to reach out to the appropriate minister(s) to initiate issue-specific conversations.
The Government of Alberta response does not indicate a willingness to amend the Municipal Government Act (MGA) to provide municipalities with one year notice prior to any legislative change impacting municipal revenue. In fact, the response does not indicate any willingness to collaborate with RMA or its members to improve on the current consultation process, which is often inconsistent, ad hoc, and lacking adequate time for associations and municipalities to develop comprehensive positions on the issues being addressed.
The example of effective consultation provided in the Government of Alberta’s response (changes to the planning and development provisions in the MGA) was actually quite challenging for RMA, as limited time was provided for participating associations to reach out to members, and specific proposed changes based on the request of the development industry (most of which would have the impact of reducing or narrowing municipal land use planning powers) formed the basis of the consultation. Similar challenges characterized the recent assessment model review, as municipal participants had no choice but to push back against four different proposed changes to how oil and gas wells were assessed, all of which would have reduced municipal revenues to various extents. Despite the massive implications that the changes being considered would have had on rural and small urban municipalities, RMA and AUMA were not permitted to inform their members of the changes being considered or solicit member input until the review was concluded.
RMA appreciates that due to the fast pace and unpredictable nature of government, all consultations may not be able to follow an identical process. However, this resolution suggests that RMA members are concerned with the province’s current approach to consultation, and even if a legislated one-year notice period is not being considered, the Government of Alberta needs to work with RMA and its members to improve the consultation process to ensure the municipal voice is heard. RMA assigns this resolution a status of Intent Not Met and will continue to advocate on this issue.