WHEREAS the Government of Alberta has introduced Bill 28 to the legislature in the 2013 fall session; and
WHEREAS the apparent intent of Bill 28 is to make changes to Section 603 of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) to retroactively validate the structure of the Capital Region Board and Regional Service Commissions; and
WHEREAS the Government of Alberta is in the early stages of the MGA review and land-use planning is one of the pillars of this review; and
WHEREAS Growth Management Boards are a fundamental change in common land use planning principles in Alberta; and
WHEREAS there has been little or no consultation with municipal governments on the concept of Growth Management Boards or discussion on the implications and effects on all municipalities once the legislation is created; and
WHEREAS the Capital Region Board (CRB) is legislated by the Government of Alberta and forces the membership of its 24 member municipalities, contains a voting structure that effectively fetters member municipalities from recognizing and executing their responsibilities as established under the MGA and impinges upon municipalities’ autonomy prohibiting the implementation of local decisions; and
WHEREAS the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties has endorsed the position that it does not support forced regionalization of any type (Finding Local Solutions: Examining the Impacts of Forced Regionalization) for municipalities;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request the Government of Alberta suspend any further legislative actions regarding Bill 28 (Growth Management Boards) until there is further consultation on the Growth Management Board concept.
On November 4, 2013, Minister Griffiths introduced Bill 28 to the Alberta Legislature in response to the perceived need to amend section 603 of the Municipal Government Act (MGA), in part, to validate the Capital Region Board (CRB). This legislative change is in response to a legal action undertaken by Parkland County challenging the Government of Alberta’s (GOA) authority to create the CRB and its supporting regulations.
In the process the GOA has also stated that the amendments are being brought forward in an effort to strengthen the legislation which authorizes the existence of Regional Service Commissions which are voluntary authorities created by willing partners to provide services to municipalities on a regional basis and creating efficiencies in operation by collaborating in operations.
In the process the GOA has added the concept of Growth Management Boards to the legislation along with the various regulations that will guide their authority and all this without any consultation with Municipalities.
As the GOA is in the process of reviewing the MGA, it would be more appropriate to introduce the substantive changes, as outlined in Bill 28, in planning principles upon completion of the review and would allow for the significant consultation needed to gain an understanding of the implications or consequences of these amendments. Minster Griffiths has supported changes in the wording that would indicate voluntary membership when these boards are created and changes in the penalty process however he has also indicated that withdrawing from the board would be nearly impossible.
There may be many consequences to these amendments that need to be explored by municipalities before the legislation receives third reading.
The AAMDC has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
Municipal Affairs: Bill 28 is about continuing to build on the very positive partnerships between the Government of Alberta and municipalities, and ensuring that municipalities have access to the tools they need, such as a growth management board, to plan for the future.
In recognition of the concerns municipalities had expressed following the introduction of the Bill, the province established a task force to consult further with municipal stakeholders. The task force included representatives from the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties, the cities of Calgary and Edmonton, the Calgary Regional Partnership, and the Capital Region Board.
After four meetings with the task force and with input from mayors and reeves across the province, amendments to Bill 28 were made. These included renaming the legislation as the Enabling Regional Growth Boards Act; clarifying that the establishment of new Growth Management Boards is voluntary; and amending enforcement provisions to ensure penalties are focused on organizations, rather than individuals, and on fines, rather than imprisonment.
The improved Bill incorporates weeks of meaningful discussions with municipal partners, such as the AAMDC, and more accurately reflects the intent of the legislation. The Alberta Legislature passed this amended Bill on December 4, 2013.
Following the advocacy efforts of the AAMDC, the provincial government opened Bill 28 to further consultation and a revised Bill 28 was released in November 2013. The revisions include wording explicitly stating that the establishment of Growth Management Boards would be voluntary. The AAMDC prides itself on having an effective working relationship with the government and we appreciate the Minister’s willingness to hear our concerns and come to a satisfactory resolution. As such, this resolution is deemed Accepted. The AAMDC will continue to monitor and engage on this and other issues concerning municipal autonomy.
A recent speech made by former Minister of Municipal Affairs Deron Bilous indicated that mandatory regional growth boards would be implemented in the Edmonton and Calgary region. The AAMDC plans to provide input into the formation of these boards to ensure that the autonomy of AAMDC members impacted by their formation is not compromised.