Community Revitalization Levies, Bill 21 and more

Community Revitalization Levies are back

The Minister of Municipal Affairs announced on July 4 that the acceptance of Community Revitalization Levy (CRL) bylaws for approval will now resume.

New CRL bylaws have not been approved by the province since 2013. There are currently five CRL zones in Alberta – three in Edmonton, one in Calgary and one in Cochrane. With the change in CRL bylaw approval authority from Lieutenant Governor in Council (i.e. Cabinet) to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, the process should be more streamlined.

ABmunis is pleased with the resumption of CRLs as we advocated for their use based on a 2014 resolution.

Bill 21, an omnibus Bill that amends 15 different Acts

Bill 21, Red Tape Reduction Statutes Amendment Act, 2022, was passed by the Alberta Legislature on May 31. It is an omnibus Bill that sets out amendments to 15 different Acts, including the Local Authorities Elections Act (LAEA), and the Municipal Government Act (MGA).

Amendments to the LAEA require municipalities and school boards to ensure that personal information (such as addresses and contact information) of candidates and donors is redacted from candidate disclosure statements before they are made public. This amendment only partially addresses privacy concerns that arose during the 2021 municipal elections, as other public documents may contain this personal information (e.g. nomination forms).

Bill 21 Highlights

While numerous amendments to the MGA were made, many of them serve only to clarify or streamline provisions. Here is a summary of the more significant changes that were made to the MGA:

Section 3 - "To foster the economic development of the municipality" was added as a municipal purpose.

This change allows each municipality to be able to demonstrate that their strategic plans and the work of the municipality include economic development, as appropriate to the type/size on the municipality.

Section 8 - Authority to establish an intermunicipal business licensing program (by a bylaw adopted by the council of each participating municipality) was added. The amended provisions specify that the Minister may make regulations respecting intermunicipal business licensing programs.

This is discretionary authority. If municipalities choose to establish an intermunicipal business licensing program, they must comply with any regulations the Minister makes.

Sections 78 to 84 - Criteria for the formation of municipal districts, villages, towns and cities were removed from the MGA. Criteria are established by the Minister as per section 76. Population numbers that were listed in the criteria have been used by Municipal Affairs (e.g. libraries regulations) and ABmunis (e.g. membership categories) as reference points; however, no significant issues are anticipated.

Population numbers that were listed in the criteria have been used by Municipal Affairs (e.g. libraries regulations) and ABmunis (e.g. membership categories) as reference points; however, no significant issues are anticipated.

Section 130.3 - Specific actions that the Minister can take if municipality viability directives are not being met were added. They include suspending bylaw-making authority; withholding provincial funding, amending municipal policies and procedures; suspending development and/or subdivision authority; dismissing all or part of council and/or the CAO; and holding an additional vote of electors on viability.

ABmunis members have indicated that “enforcement” of viability orders should not financial penalize already struggling municipalities, so the withholding of funds is hopefully something the Minister would use sparingly, if at all. In fact, municipalities and municipal associations have been asking Municipal Affairs about providing more financial support to help reviewed municipalities meet their viability directives and to help receiving municipalities with the transition when an amalgamation occurs.

Section 154 - The chief elected official (Mayor or Reeve) is no longer automatically a member of all council committees and all bodies to which council has the right to appoint members. The chief elected official must be appointed to these committees and bodies in the same manner as other members (e.g. resolution).

Procedural changes will be required by municipal administrators and council. Steps will need to be taken by all municipalities to appoint their Mayor to council committees and other relevant bodies, should they choose to do so.

Section 199 - With the repeal of the Meeting Procedures (COVID-19 Suppression) Regulation, Section 199 was expanded to include clearer requirements for electronic meetings. The requirement that a physical location be provided for the public to view the meeting with a designated officer present was removed. Sections 602.46, 627.3 and 708.041 give the Minister authority to regulate electronic meetings for Regional Service Commissions, SDABs and Growth Management Boards.

Councils should review the electronic meeting provisions in their Procedural Bylaw to ensure they align with this section. Councils will need to decide if/when it is appropriate to hold meetings electronically outside of emergent circumstances and provincial order.

Sections 220 to 224 - Combines and clarifies petition requirements.

Municipal administrators and elected officials must ensure that their petition process complies with these requirements.

Section 242 and 245 - Specifies that each council must adopt an operating budget and a capital budget for each calendar year by January 1 of that calendar year.

Budget preparation timelines will need to be adjusted for any municipalities not already completing them for January 1.

Section 381.2 - Authority to approve community revitalization bylaws (CRLs), or amendments to them, moved from the Lieutenant Governor in Council to the Minister.

This should allow for faster approval of new CRL bylaws and amendments to existing bylaws.

Implementation Fact Sheet

Municipal Affairs published Implementation Fact Sheet: Red Tape Reduction Statutes Amendment Act, 2022, on June 22. The fact sheet lists some of the streamlining amendments and highlights a few of the substantive amendments noted above. It also provides notice that the Subdivision and Development Regulation, the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board Regulation, and the Subdivision and Development Appeal Regulation have been combined into a single regulation. No substantive changes to the content of these regulations were made. The Ministry previously advised that they would be creating this consolidated regulation during the engagement process on MGA, Part 17 - Planning and Development in summer 2020.

If you have any questions about the amendments in Bill 21, Red Tape Reduction Statutes Amendment Act, 2022, send Advocacy staff an advocacy [at] (email).