Intermunicipal Collaboration Frameworks

Subject Governance
Year 2022
Status Adopted - Active
Sponsor - Mover
Mayerthorpe, Town of
Sponsor - Seconder
St. Albert, City of
Active Clauses

IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT Alberta Municipalities (ABmunis) advocate on behalf of its member municipalities, including those who belong to a Growth Management Board, that the Government of Alberta enact legislation, and develop best practices, that provide clear guidance for Intermunicipal Collaboration Frameworks (ICFs), and ensure reduced red tape and costs during the process to renew ICFs. This guidance should:

  • Provide minimum core funding formulas to support fair and equitable frameworks; 
  • Define core minimum eligible costs, thereby reducing red tape and costs in facilitation, mediation and arbitration processes; and
  • Define eligible services within transportation, water and wastewater, solid waste, emergency services, recreation, libraries and other services that benefit residents in more than one of the municipalities that are party to an ICF.

FURTHER IT BE RESOLVED THAT ABmunis request the Government of Alberta amend the Municipal Government Act to mandate ICFs for municipalities that share a common boundary within Growth Management Boards, to foster intermunicipal and sub-regional collaboration and reduce red tape with respect to intermunicipal collaboration that is currently voluntary.

Whereas Clauses

WHEREAS Intermunicipal Collaboration Frameworks (ICFs) were introduced through Bill 21, Modernized Municipal Government Act, 2016, and the Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework Regulation, which were proclaimed on October 26, 2017. In 2019, Bill 25, Red Tape Reduction Implementation Act made additional changes to the Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework legislation; 

WHEREAS Intermunicipal Collaboration Frameworks have the following purposes: to provide for the integrated and strategic planning, delivery and funding of intermunicipal services; to steward scarce resources efficiently in providing local services; and, to ensure municipalities contribute funding to services that benefit their residents; 

WHEREAS municipalities that share a common boundary must have created an Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework with each other by April 1, 2022 with a minimum five year renewal term;  

WHEREAS Growth Management Board members were initially mandated to complete Intermunicipal Collaboration Frameworks, but Bill 25, 2019 removed this, and inadvertently introduced additional red tape for the completion of intermunicipal agreements; 

WHEREAS the Government of Alberta and municipalities expended substantial taxpayer money through the Alberta Municipal Affairs Municipal Dispute Resolution Service and the Alberta Community Partnership Program funding facilitators and mediators to deal with Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework conflicts, through countless municipal meetings, through many hours of municipal administrative time, and through costs of arbitration processes; 

WHEREAS 344 municipalities completed Intermunicipal Collaboration Frameworks, including 257 urban municipalities (19 cities, 106 towns, 81 villages and 51 summer villages), 6 specialized municipalities, 73 rural municipalities (63 municipal districts, 7 improvement districts and 3 special areas) and 8 Metis settlements. 442 ICFs were required in total across Alberta; 7 of these proceeded to arbitration. All of these municipalities could benefit from clearer legislation guiding the content of Intermunicipal Collaboration Frameworks; and

WHEREAS findings and decisions of arbitrators based on expert reports have established precedents in defining core funding formulas, establishing eligible costs, and determining eligible services.

Resolution Background

Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework legislation is new and innovative legislation that aligns with the Municipal Government Act (MGA), s. 3 Municipal purposes:
“The purposes of a municipality are:
     (a)     to provide good government,
         (a.1)     to foster the well-being of the environment,
     (b)     to provide services, facilities or other things that, in the opinion of council, are necessary or desirable for all or a part of a municipality, 
     (c)     to develop and maintain safe and viable communities, and
     (d)     to work collaboratively with neighboring municipalities to plan, deliver and fund intermunicipal services.”

Municipalities during the Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework process may not have adequate staff resources and/or financial capacity to proceed with lengthy and costly facilitation, mediation, and arbitration processes.

By codifying requirements for funding formulas and establishing the types of funding formulas to use, municipalities across the province will be able to realize a more even playing field.

By codifying arbitration precedents or best practices into existing legislation, municipalities will be in a better position to re-negotiate and streamline subsequent renewals of Intermunicipal Collaboration Frameworks providing for consistency throughout the Province.

Thousands of hours of time for municipal administrations and elected officials, untold provincial resources and countless dollars in grant funding have been expended in the process of negotiating, mediating and arbitrating ICFs across the Province.  Legal precedents have been established at the expense of the taxpayer with local governments shouldering the burden. We are calling on the province to enact key amendments to legislation that remove the ambiguity and set the stage for less red tape and productive negotiations when obligatory renewal of Intermunicipal Collaboration Frameworks begins.

ICFs were introduced in recognition that while some municipalities have a strong history of collaboration, others were unable to persuade their neighbours to think regionally. ICFs have the potential to improve the quality and efficiency of the delivery of infrastructure and services which positively contribute to the well-being of Albertans and the resiliency of our economy.  This resolution is presented with the conviction that there is an opportunity to learn from the experience of municipalities over the past several years in order to strengthen ICF related legislation and processes.

Government Response

The Minister of Municipal Affairs provided a response to this resolution on November 22, 2022, which stated:

"Municipal Affairs believes implementing Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework (ICF) requirements has been successful overall, as evidenced by 99 per cent of municipalities finalizing agreements on ICFs. As of November 1, 2022, only four municipalities (0.5 per cent) had not yet adopted ICFs (representing two outstanding ICFs). 

That being said, Municipal Affairs recognizes that this was new and untested legislation, and that municipalities had varying experiences in developing ICFs, including a few parties that entered into mandatory dispute resolution through arbitration and some that are in judicial review.

Municipal Affairs intends to conduct a lessons-learned review of the ICF process to better understand what has worked well and where there may be areas for improvement. The process will start with conversations with arbitrators in the coming weeks, to hear their perspectives on the arbitration process in particular. Later in 2023, after the judicial review processes are complete, municipalities and their associations will be engaged so we can learn from their experiences and perspectives. Ultimately, the intent is to make any needed changes to legislation and processes early enough to support the next round of ICF conversations."