Municipal Government Act Review Update: Bill 20 is introduced and it’s disappointing

Municipal Government Act Review Update: Bill 20 is introduced and it’s disappointing

Earlier this month, the Alberta government introduced its proposed amendments to the Municipal Government Act (MGA) in the form of Bill 20: Municipal Government Amendment Act.  These amendments follow from several months of public consultation conducted by Municipal Affairs (details can be found on the MGA Review website)

Given the key role that municipalities play in the management and protection of Alberta’s environment, we have participated in this review by making written submissions. Our key recommendations for strengthening the MGA are:

  1. Protection and management of the environment is a valid municipal planning purpose and, as such, should be expressly recognized in the MGA.
  2. The MGA should incorporate by-law purposes specific to protection and management of the environment.
  3. The MGA should expand the enforcement tools available to municipalities for the purposes of environmental protection and management.
  4. The MGA should expand the revenue generation options available to municipalities to enable environmental stewardship and, particularly, land conservation.
  5. The MGA should enhance opportunities for public participation in municipal planning processes.

Unfortunately, Bill 20 reflects few of our recommendations.  We had recommended that opportunities for public participation be enhanced in the MGA and, as such, we welcome the new requirement for municipalities to establish a public participation policy (see section 24) and changes to modernize the petitions process (see section 30).  However, it is disappointing that changes to strengthen the role of municipalities in environmental management and protection have not been proposed in Bill 20.

The Alberta government has indicated that it will be introducing a second amendment bill this fall to deal with more complex issues.  The ELC will continue to work to have our recommendations reflected in the second amendment bill.  Ultimately, we would like to see the MGA amended to require and empower municipalities to manage and protect the local environment.

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