Infrastructure Servicing and Construction Costs of School Sites
IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT Alberta Municipalities advocate for the Government of Alberta to ensure provincial allocations of capital funding for school construction cover all costs of construction, including the servicing of school sites with the required infrastructure.
WHEREAS sections 670.1 of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) and 53.1 of the Education Act require municipalities and school boards to enter into binding agreements addressing the allocation of reserve land and servicing for future school sites;
WHEREAS the Alberta government’s current school site readiness checklist requires school boards to obtain letters of commitment from municipalities to provide and fund the infrastructure servicing of future school sites (i.e. water, sewer, storm water, electric and telecommunications connections to property lines) if the landowner or land developer is unable, in advance of provincial allocations of capital funding for school construction;
WHEREAS school boards and municipalities have no authority to compel landowners or land developers to fund such costs in advance of the neighbourhood being developed;
WHEREAS the cost of serving school sites in advance of neighbourhood development creates an additional financial burden for landowners as well as private-and public-sector land developers;
WHEREAS the costs of school-site servicing are added to future lot prices, and this ultimately affects home affordability in a community;
WHEREAS the current requirements and constraints force municipalities to encumber municipal financial reserves or municipal borrowing capacity, or to raise municipal taxes to provide and fund the servicing of future school sites;
WHEREAS encumbering municipal reserves and borrowing capacity to facilitate school-site servicing is not sustainable and renders these financial resources unavailable for municipalities to make other much-needed community investments; and
WHEREAS the province currently collects the education property tax requisition, and all education property taxes are pooled through the Alberta School Foundation Fund.
• This issue impacts all municipalities but especially mid-sized and small municipalities as well as those with slower rates of growth and land absorption. They may not have the financial ability to meet the requirements of the readiness checklist but still need new schools. Ensuring that the school-age population across the Province has the opportunity to learn in environments that are tech-friendly and are not overcrowded demonstrates equity and an investment in the future.
• Municipalities set aside monies in various municipal reserves that are not intended for servicing of school sites. Forcing municipalities to dip into these reserves to finance school site infrastructure costs renders these reserves unavailable for their intended purposes of addressing community needs. In addition, if monies in municipal reserves are not available to satisfy this requirement and a municipality must borrow, this would encumber overall municipal borrowing capacity.
• This issue is urgent, as this provincial requirement is already putting a strain on municipal finances, including municipal reserves. It could jeopardize the advancement of school construction in some communities unless the province ensures that allocations of capital funding for school construction cover all costs of construction, including the servicing of school sites with the required infrastructure.
• The Government of Alberta already collects an education property tax, as a component on municipal property tax notices, to fund schools and school construction. This provincial education tax could simply be adjusted to sufficiently fund all costs of school construction, including the servicing of school sites with the required infrastructure.
• A somewhat similar resolution by the Town of Penhold was adopted in 2014 Provincial Support for School Development https://www.abmunis.ca/resolution/provincial-support-school-development , but has since expired, Although there are some similarities, this resolution is distinct in that it seeks only the inclusion of site servicing (water, sewer, storm water, electric and telecom connections to property line) in provincial capital funding for school construction. Nor does our resolution seek to have the province take on an active role as contractor on school construction projects.
• ABmunis members also passed a resolution in 2019, School Site Procurement https://www.abmunis.ca/advocacy-resources/resolutions-library/school-si…, which focused on the province developing necessary legislation, policy, and procedures to ensure productive engagement by the province and school boards with municipalities in the early stages of planning and announcing new school sites. This resolution expired in 2022.
• On June 10, 2020, the MGA was amended to require municipalities to enter into Joint Use Planning Agreements (JUPAs) https://open.alberta.ca/publications/municipal-government-act-mga-joint… with school boards. These agreements were originally required to be in place by June 10, 2023; however, the deadline for completion of JUPAs was extended to June 2025 https://www.abmunis.ca/news/deadline-school-site-jupas-extended-2025. A JUPA is a formal partnership between a municipality and a school board to enable the integrated and long-term planning and use of school sites on municipal reserve (MR), school reserve (SR) and municipal and school reserve (MSR) land. More than one municipality or school board may be a party to a JUPA.
Education Act Section 53.1 https://kings-printer.alberta.ca/1266.cfm?page=E00P3.cfm&leg_type=Acts&…
April 2023 Deadline for School Site JUPAs Extended to 2025 https://www.abmunis.ca/news/deadline-school-site-jupas-extended-2025