+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution ER1-23F

Limiting Third-party Services in ICF Agreements

Date:
November 8, 2023
Expiry Date:
December 1, 2026
Active Status:
Active
Sponsors:
Cardston County
District:
1 - Foothills-Little Bow
Year:
2023
Convention:
Fall
Category:
Municipal Governance and Finances
Status:
Intent Not Met
Vote Results:
Carried
Preamble:

WHEREAS the Alberta Municipalities Association accepted and passed a resolution at their September 2023 Convention stating “that Alberta Municipalities advocate for the clear articulation by the Government of Alberta (GOA) in legislation that cost sharing for library services is within the scope of Intermunicipal Collaborations Frameworks (ICFs)”; and

WHEREAS the Red Tape Reduction Implementation Act (“Red Tape Reduction 2019”) neither mentioned any intent to change the scope of ICFs concerning third-party services nor retained the listing of such services; and

WHEREAS the Minister of Municipal Affairs, acting under the authority of the Municipal Government Act, issued an Order (MSD:090/21) to establish the ICF between Cardston County and the Town of Cardston without the inclusion of library services; and

WHEREAS on December 1, 2022, the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta upheld the Ministerial Order No. MSD: 090/21 and dismissed the judicial review;

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) advocate to the Government of Alberta (GOA) that third-party services should not be included in intermunicipal collaboration frameworks (ICFs) and should be left to each ICF negotiation partnership to determine external to the ICF process;

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED THAT the RMA advocate to the GOA to limit the funding demands by urban municipalities, particularly when these demands arise from their independent decisions and are based on an assumption that rural municipalities will subsidize a portion of their costs or shortages.

Member Background:

Cardston County and the Town of Cardston began their ICF discussion like any other partnership, with both parties taking and giving to ensure the successful completion of the required ICF.

When the discussion came to the topic of library funding, the County informed the Town that the library board had the responsibility to find and control all their funds. The Town and County each contributed to the library board at different rates, but it was the board’s responsibility to work within its limits or find more funds. The library board has approached each municipality over the years requesting an increase to its funding; while the Town continued to support the board with increasing funding, the County controlled its funding as it has to share funding between three libraries.

Now, the Town wants compensation from the County for its past decision on funding the library.

The County and the Town had all other ICF items agreed upon, but the Town would not sign the ICF agreement, which pushed negotiations past the required completion date.  A letter from the Minister in July of 2021 once again confirmed that the ICF is not the appropriate tool for library funding (see attached).  As the Town was considering arbitration and looking for an arbitrator, the County requested the Minister of Municipal Affairs enforce the ICF agreement with its authority under section 708.412. In October of 2021, Ministerial Order No. MSD:090/21 was issued, sealing the ICF Agreement without libraries included.

In 2022, the Town of Cardston requested a judicial review concerning the Minister’s decision MSD:090/21; Cardston County requested to have standing and submitted its response. In December of 2022, the Honourable Justice J.C. Kubik demised the town’s request, stating the Minister had the authority to make the Order.

The Town decided not to proceed to appeal court but is now trying to enforce its funding needs through the Alberta Municipalities Association. If they are successful, what does this mean for Cardston County?  This would require the county to increase payment to the Town by 53%, most likely the same amount for the other two libraries.

Click here to view letter from Minister of Municipal Affairs regarding the finalization of the Town of Cardston/Cardston County ICF

Click here to view letter from Minister of Municipal Affairs regarding the Minister’s authority to establish an ICF for the Town of Cardston and Cardston County.

Click here to view the Memorandum of Decision on the judicial review.

RMA Background:

7-22F: Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework Reform

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) request the Government of Alberta amend the Municipal Government Act to define “core municipal services” for the purpose of intermunicipal collaboration frameworks and mandate that municipalities present verifiable costs to justify cost sharing for the aforementioned defined core municipal services;

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the RMA request that the Government of Alberta ensure that members of a growth management board are not required to enter into an intermunicipal collaboration framework with each other.

Click here to view the full resolution.

Government Response:

Municipal Affairs

Alberta Municipal Affairs will be conducting stakeholder engagement on ICFs in early 2024 to inform potential future legislative changes. The RMA will be included as a primary stakeholder in that engagement and will include a discussion on definition of terms and what municipal services are to be included in ICFs going forward. Municipal Affairs encourages RMA to engage in this process to share its membership’s first-hand experiences and perspectives.

In 2023, the ICF review period was extended one time from five years to seven years to enable these policy discussions and potential legislative amendments to be completed before the next legislated deadline.

Development:

RMA plans to participate in the ICF engagement process referenced in the GOA response. It is disappointing that the response did not directly address the changes requested in the resolution itself.

RMA’s input into the process will be informed by this resolution. The resolution is assigned a status of Intent Not Met and RMA will re-visit the resolution when the engagement results are released.

Provincial Ministries:
Municipal Affairs
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