Casual Legal: Modernizing advertising

By Jeff Daniels
Reynolds Mirth Richards Farmer LLP
Alberta Municipalities Casual Legal Service Provider

Municipalities must advertise notice of certain proposed bylaws, resolutions, public hearings, and other things in accordance with the Municipal Government Act (MGA). 

Section 606 of the MGA establishes three methods of advertising which are allowed. Notice of the bylaw, resolution, meeting, public hearing or other thing must be:

  • Published at least once a week for two consecutive weeks in at least one newspaper or other publication circulating in the area to which the proposed matter relates.
  • Mailed or delivered to every residence in the area to which the proposed matter relates.
  • Given by a method provided for in an advertisement bylaw pursuant to section 606.1.

The first two methods – publishing notice in a local newspaper or mailing to every residence – offer little flexibility, take time and can be expensive and inconvenient.

Advertising bylaws allow municipalities to adopt different and often more practical methods of providing notice to the public, including by electronic means.

Before passing an advertising bylaw under section 606.1, Council must:

  • Be satisfied that the method(s) of advertising the bylaw would provide for is likely to bring the matter advertised by that method to the attention of substantially all residents in the area to which the matter relates.
  • Advertise notice of the bylaw in accordance with section 606, which must be by publishing in a local newspaper or mail unless the municipality already has an advertising bylaw.
  • Conduct a public hearing before second reading.
  • Make the bylaw available for public inspection.

Often, advertising bylaws permit advertising by posting notice on the municipality’s website, mobile app, or by social media and provide for alternative or combined methods of advertising. Advertising bylaws can be a valuable tool for municipalities as they allow advertising methods to be tailored to a municipality’s specific needs but require both careful drafting and careful adherence to ensure affected parties receive appropriate notice.

To access Alberta Municipalities Casual Legal Helpline, Alberta Municipalities members can call toll-free to 1-800-661-7673 or send an casuallegal [at] (email) to reach the municipal legal experts at Reynolds Mirth Richards and Farmer LLP. For more information on the Casual Legal Service, please call 310-MUNI (6864) or send an riskcontrol [at] (email) to speak to Alberta Municipalities Risk Management staff. Any Regular or Associate member of Alberta Municipalities can access the Casual Legal Service.

DISCLAIMER: This article is meant to provide information only and is not intended to provide legal advice. You should seek the advice of legal counsel to address your specific set of circumstances. Although every effort has been made to provide current and accurate information, changes to the law may cause the information in this article to be outdated.