ABmunis webinar: Viability of small communities 

Alberta's small communities are navigating the financial maze marked by population decline, youth migration, and economic trends favouring larger centres. While most of Alberta's 332 municipalities are financially sound, 26 have undergone viability reviews. Of these, 13 have chosen dissolution.

Dissolution is not without its complexities. The issues that led to a community’s dissolution are transferred to an adjacent municipality – usually either a county or municipal district – requiring ongoing support from Alberta Municipal Affairs to improve viability and address consequences.

Municipal viability is the topic explored by Kimberly Jones, Mukesh Khanal, and Kevin McQuillan in their new discussion paper, Assessing the Viability of Smaller Municipalities: The Alberta Model. It is the final paper in the Future of Municipal Government (FOMG) series.

The paper identifies two major themes that affect the viability of small municipalities: demographic trends and infrastructure costs.

Demographic trends. Small towns and villages, especially those far from large cities, face challenges due to demographic shifts. This limits the availability of human and financial resources needed for municipal governance and service provision. 

Infrastructure costs. The expenses associated with the upkeep and renewal of infrastructure pose a significant challenge to smaller municipalities. The dissolution of some communities highlights the severe financial strain caused by infrastructure costs, which are transferred to the absorbing entity.

The paper also outlines several potential policy strategies for meeting those challenges.

Alberta Municipalities will host an online seminar on this topic with authors Kimberly Jones, Mukesh Khanal, and Kevin McQuillan on April 25 at 5:30 p.m. The webinar is open to Alberta municipal elected officials and staff. 

Click here to register.