The Municipal Government Act (MGA) supports municipalities in operating in an accountable, equitable, effective and transparent manner. After hearing from Albertans about how this is important, we worked with municipal partners to develop initial MGA amendments to enhance municipal accountability and transparency.

Public Participation Policy

What’s currently in place: The MGA doesn’t require municipalities to demonstrate how they will conduct public participation. Municipalities determine their own public participation practices using required mechanisms such as open meetings, petitions, and notices.

What we heard: Albertans have indicated there is a lack of clarity around the scope of municipalities’ responsibility to engage with their constituents. Due to the existing flexibility of public participation provisions in the MGA, municipal public participation is inconsistent across the province.

What’s changing: Require municipalities to adopt public participation policies that outline their approaches for engaging with stakeholders. Municipalities continue to have the flexibility to determine their approach to public participation, and the new public participation policy helps citizens and stakeholders see how they will be engaged.

When this takes effect: Upon development of the related regulation by fall 2017.

Conduct of Elected Officials

What’s currently in place: The use of codes of a conduct is voluntary. Councillor accountability and conduct is addressed through the election process, boards, the courts, or Ministerial directives.

What we heard: Albertans have indicated a desire to hold their councillors more accountable for their actions. Elections help to hold municipal councils accountable, but this may not appropriately address immediate or urgent issues when it comes to the conduct of individual councillors.

What’s changing: Require all municipalities to develop and adopt codes of conduct that:

  • meet standards established in an MGA regulation (to be developed);
  • address enforcement and administrative procedures at the municipal level; and
  • do not allow councils to remove councillors from office.

When this takes effect: Upon development of the related regulation by fall 2017.

Council Meetings

What’s currently in place: There is no definition of council “meeting” in the MGA. Councils must hold meetings in public, unless the purpose is to discuss matters under the FOIP Act.

What we heard: Albertans have expressed concerns over the proper use of closed meetings. Municipalities have expressed an interest in specifying what constitutes a council meeting. Clear definitions will support transparency in council deliberations.

What’s changing: Define “meeting” to include what matters may be closed to the public during council meetings. Describe circumstances and procedures for a “closed meeting.” Clarify a duty of the chief administrative officer to provide all councillors the same information, no matter how it was requested or by whom.

When this takes effect: Upon development of the related regulation by fall 2017.

Petitions

What’s currently in place: Petition sufficiency requires a percentage of eligible signatories, time limits for completion and several other submission and verification factors.

What we heard: Albertans noted that existing petition requirements make it very difficult for the public to successfully petition a municipality. Municipalities have indicated the timelines to validate petitions are challenging.

What’s changing: Municipalities may, by bylaw, choose to decrease the required percentage of eligible signatories, accept online petitions, extend the time period for collecting signatures and allow petitioners to recall their signatures. Timelines would be extended for petition validation.

When this takes effect: Upon proclamation of the Municipal Government Amendment Act.

Next steps

Some of these changes to the MGA take effect when they are proclaimed to become law, and others will first require development of a regulation.

Check the status of Bill 20, Municipal Government Amendment Act

The plan for working together on the MGA Review includes a regulatory review consultation that starts in fall 2015 and continues until the fully revised MGA and all related regulatory updates are proclaimed together by fall 2017.

Questions?

Contact us with the details.