The final piece of legislation that guides how municipalities operate has been proclaimed as law under the new Municipal Government Act (MGA).
For the first time in more than 20 years, wholesale changes have been made to the MGA, which affects the lives of all Albertans by setting the rules for how local governments function and provide services to citizens, says a Government of Alberta news release Oct. 26.
The updated act ensures municipalities are governed in an open and transparent manner, keeps municipal councils accountable, creates a framework for greater regional collaboration and improves the consistency of the municipal revenue framework.
“This updated piece of legislation provides municipalities the tools and resources they need to build strong communities and make lives better for Albertans,” Municipal Affairs Minister Shaye Anderson says.
“I am proud of the work we’ve done with local governments and stakeholders to modernize the MGA.”
Amendments to the MGA, the rulebook that Alberta’s municipalities use to govern and plan, were made through three bills passed by the legislature since 2015. Changes include:
-Allowing parental leave for municipal councillors.
-Requiring training to be offered to municipal councillors.
-The provincial ombudsman providing oversight of municipalities.
-Improved regional planning with growth management boards and inter-municipal collaboration frameworks, which will lead to more efficient services for Albertans.
-Code of conduct of elected officials, open council meetings and subdivision and appeal board training.
Provisions of the act will come into force in phases, with some happening immediately and others becoming effective on Jan. 1, 2018 and in April 2018.
Both the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association and the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties support the new MGA.
“Albertans expect provincial and municipal governments to work together to achieve the best possible outcomes for communities,” AUMA president Lisa Holmes says.
“I am particularly proud of how the AUMA and the AAMDC came together to advocate for our members, and I believe this relationship speaks to the spirit of inter-municipal collaboration contained within the new MGA.”
Her rural colleague agrees.
“The hard work of the last five years by Municipal Affairs, AAMDC, AUMA and many other committed associations and industries has resulted in legislation that focuses on collaboration,” AAMDC president Al Kemmere says.
“We came to the table with goodwill and we will move forward with those same intentions.
“As this legislation rolls out, the AAMDC will continue to monitor the impact and advocate that the Modernized Municipal Government Act continues to meet the changing needs of rural Alberta.”
The Municipal Government Act contains 710 sections and is the second-largest piece of legislation in the province.