Alberta introduces changes to Municipal Government Act

Click to play video: 'Alberta government opens up debate over who should pay for growth in municipalities' Alberta government opens up debate over who should pay for growth in municipalities
WATCH ABOVE: Major changes could be coming to the legislation that governs how cities and towns operate. The discussion centres around the Municipal Government Act. Vinesh Pratap explains – May 31, 2016

Changes are on the way to how cities and towns are governed in the province and it could mean a new way to look at sprawl and affordable housing.

The Alberta government introduced changes to the Municipal Government Act Tuesday.

“In order to promote a healthy economy, we need to move forward on outdated legislation,” Minister of Municipal Affairs Danielle Larivee said. “Our government is showing leadership by addressing the complex and wide-reaching issues municipalities face. We are also taking the time needed to engage Albertans and get this important piece of legislation right.”

READ MORE: Changes to Alberta municipalities act to boost transparency, accountability 

The updates include measures such as giving communities the option of having developers pay some costs associated with amenities like new police stations and rec centres.

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The changes also include options for municipalities to reserve portions of new development for affordable housing.

They would also compel communities to work together in areas such as regional services and cost sharing.

“It’s all about working together and negotiating those conversations and ensuring we have some dispute resolution mechanisms in place so that there can be real, honest conversations at the table,” Larivee said.

“The fact that they are mandatory forces everybody to come to the table in good faith.”

READ MORE: Alberta government pledges improvements to Municipal Government Act 

“The amended MGA is of great interest to school boards provincially, as elements contained within it intersect with school board responsibilities and authority,” Mary Martin, vice president of the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA), said. “Specifically, there are important sections that relate to the building of new schools, the operation of existing schools, and funding.”

The government said the changes come after nearly four years of review and consultation.

The ministry will gather feedback from 20 Alberta communities across the province this summer.

“The amendments realize one of our three key goals, which is to modernize legislation to reflect the importance of regionalization,” Lisa Holmes, president of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, said. “The mandatory long term inter-municipal funding agreements should enable municipalities to work together to ensure that they all contribute to the costs of infrastructure and services that their respective citizens and businesses use. We look forward to the public consultations so that we can discuss additional ways to ensure municipalities have the required resources to provide core services and can more collaboratively be engaged to work in partnership with the province to build sustainable communities for the future.”

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The government hopes to pass Bill 21 this fall. The legislation has 721 sections and is the province’s second-largest piece of legislation.

The last major review of the act was done in 1995, the NDP said.

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