New Muni Act adds key partnerships

Spotlight Staff
An Act to Strengthen Municipal Government proposes practical changes that would help municipalities build stronger and more sustainable communities for Alberta residents.

Proposed changes to the Municipal Government Act (MGA) reflect the input of municipalities, community organizations, Indigenous groups, school boards, small businesses, industry and the public that was collected following the release of a discussion guide in November 2016, says a government news release dated April 10.

“These changes will make a real difference for how municipalities collaborate on what is important to communities,” Municipal Affairs Minister Shaye Anderson says.

“We’re listening to Albertans and responding to their ideas for how our government can make practical changes that make their lives better.” An Act to Strengthen Municipal Government proposes amendments to the MGA that would build relationships between municipalities and Indigenous communities, including a notification requirement that Alberta would be the first province to legislate.

The bill would also make Alberta the first province to let neighbouring municipalities collaborate on off-site infrastructure, such as recreation centres and libraries that benefit residents in a region.

Amendments also include changes to strengthen collaboration between school boards and municipalities.

“Collaboration ensures strong communities and increased quality of life for Albertans,” says Lisa Holmes, president of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.

“Local governments can advance cost-effective regional approaches for infrastructure and service delivery through new tools such as inter-municipal off-site levies and greater use of joint use agreements with school boards. “We appreciate that the province adjusted many of its initial approaches for the bill to ensure the provisions are more practical for municipalities.”

The Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties also supports the improvements.

“Through the MGA review process, AAMDC has been grateful to have been at the table,” AAMDC president Al Kenmere says.

“This journey has been open, inclusionary and fair. “Though you never get everything you ask for, in the end we have current legislation that for the most part reflects municipal challenges and we are proud to have been part of it.”

Business is also grateful to be in the partnership.

“The MGA review is the gold standard for government consultation,”says Ken Kobly, president and CEO of Alberta Chambers of Commerce.

School divisions are glad to be in on the deal.

“The government has heard our concerns and acted on them – in particular, introducing mandatory joint use and planning agreements,” says Mary Martin, president of the Alberta School Boards Association.

“It benefits Alberta families and communities when municipalities and school boards work together on integrated long-term planning for school sites and facilities.
“Further clarifying exemptions for off-site levies is also good news for school boards, because it means more dollars remain in our classrooms.”

Proposed changes also include empowering municipalities to create parental leave policies to make local politics more family friendly and accessible to women and new parents. Alberta would be the third province to do this.

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