MGA: Key Issues
The Municipal Government Act (MGA) Review involves the review / creation of three separate yet interrelated streams of provincial policy: the MGA, Regulations and City Charters. As part of the changes that have been approved or proposed, there are some changes that will be positive and others which have the potential to negatively impact our industry. The following illustrates the hierarchy of the various pieces of legislation:
Municipal Government Act (MGA)
The MGA is the main piece of legislation which provides broad policy direction and enabling powers. There have been considerable changes already approved through Bills 20 & 21 including:
• New development levies for fire halls, indoor recreation facilities, police stations and libraries.
• Inclusionary housing.
• Enhanced municipal oversight and accountability through an expanded role of the Alberta Ombudsman.
• Modifications to rules surrounding environmental reserve and the creation of conservation reserve.
• Increased intermunicipal collaboration through mandated growth management boards and intermunicipal collaboration frameworks.
• New process and timelines for development permit applications.
Additionally, the province approved a number of additional amendments through Bill 8 in May 2017. Of key concern to our industry is a proposal to introduce a new levy for provincial highway infrastructure such as interchanges and other improvements which could result in significant increases to the cost of a housing unit. Discussions on this policy item with the province are ongoing. Below you will find summaries of the approved and proposed key issues that will impact CHBA – Alberta members.
Summaries of Key Issues:
Provide the specific details and rules related to many of broad policies provided for in the MGA (i.e. development levies, inclusionary housing and intermunicipal collaboration). As part of the MGA Review, 45 regulations were reviewed / created and in many ways these are just as important as the MGA itself. The province has released some of the less controversial regulations which can be viewed here.
The regulations that will have a substantial impact on our industry will be released between June and July. Once released, the province will accept written responses for a period of 60-days. Please check this page regularly as details will be posted as they become available.
Charters for Calgary and Edmonton will be drafted as regulations, however, they will be different in the fact that they could grant specific powers that are different than those provided to all other municipalities under the MGA.
The greatest concern for industry is the potential unfettered ability for Calgary and Edmonton to modify their Charters in the future. Based on the current wording of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) the cities will be able to amend the Charters simply through holding a public hearing. Without any limitation or provincial oversight this would allow both cities to grant themselves powers well beyond what is permitted under the MGA. Specific policy proposals of concern that are being considered at this stage include:
• Potential powers for Calgary and Edmonton to require building standards above those currently in the Building Code;
• Allowing Calgary and Edmonton to become members of the Safety Codes Council;
• Granting broad additional powers for matters of the environment;
• Providing Calgary and Edmonton free reign on their subdivision approval process, statutory documents and land use bylaws; and
• Allowing Calgary and Edmonton to create their own definition of “affordable housing”.
In the summer of 2016 the province released the preliminary City Charter Overview Package for Calgary and Edmonton. This was the first information on City Charters that had been made public and contains a number of policy proposals put forward by Calgary and Edmonton. It is important to note that the province is not bound to adopt these proposals. The second component to City Charters will be the fiscal framework which should contain the fiscal policies to accompany the various policy proposals in the preliminary discussion guide.
Summaries of Key Issues:
• Proposed Changes Under City Charters (Preliminary – More Information to be Released)