Casual Legal: Retention and Scheduling of Municipal Records

By Daina Young
Reynolds Mirth Richards Farmer LLP
Alberta Municipalities Casual Legal Service Provider 

The Municipal Government Act (MGA) expressly requires municipalities to maintain certain records, such as original bylaws and minutes of council meetings. In addition, there are many other records that will be in a municipality’s possession from time to time.

Section 214(1) of the MGA allows Council to authorize the destruction of original bylaws and minutes of council meetings, but only if the originals have been recorded in a way that will enable copies of the originals to be made. Council also has the authority, under s. 214(2), to pass a bylaw respecting the destruction of other records and documents of the municipality. 

There are few prescribed timelines in the MGA with respect to the period of time a municipality must retain records. However, s. 214(3) does require that where an individual’s personal information will be used by a municipality to make a decision affecting the individual, the municipality must retain the personal information for at least one year after using it so that the individual has a reasonable opportunity to obtain access to it. 

While the legislated requirements to retain and schedule the release of municipal records are limited, Municipal Affairs has published guidelines on the retention and scheduling of municipal records which take into account factors such as the administrative, legal, fiscal and historical value of different categories of records. Municipalities are not required to adopt these guidelines, but they may be informative or provide a good starting point for municipalities looking to review or create records retention and scheduling bylaws.

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.