RMA report complements ABmunis’ findings

The Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) recently released Municipal Structures: An Alternative Dialogue for Municipalities in Alberta to “examine the link between how municipalities address the numerous and increasingly complex challenges that they face and the role of municipal restructuring (dissolution, annexation, amalgamation, etc.) as a potential solution.”

The association, which represents 69 counties and municipal districts across Alberta, produced an executive summary of its report and hosted a workshop on the topic at its convention in November 2022.

The report’s main findings align closely with those of Alberta Municipalities’ Future of Municipal Government (FOMG) project. Specifically, RMA's report:

  • Echoes ABmunis' finding that ‘one size does not fit all’. Restructuring is not a ‘silver bullet’ solution to municipal challenges, and municipalities can use existing intermunicipal collaboration tools instead of restructuring or as part of an incremental move towards potential amalgamation or annexation. This conclusion aligns with findings from the FOMG report on ‘Organizing Canadian Local Government’. 
  • Emphasizes the importance of collaboration to address the evolving challenges that municipalities face. RMA’s workshop went further, emphasizing how important it is for municipalities to enter collaboration discussions with a ‘win-win’ mindset and a goal to build strong, healthy communities that are not defined by jurisdictional boundaries.  
  • Highlights how increased industrial development experienced in rural municipalities is driving residential development in urban municipalities. As residential development does not generally raise sufficient revenues to pay for itself, intermunicipal cooperation is key to strategically attracting growth as a region and fairly sharing the costs and benefits of that growth.  
  • Notes that Intermunicipal Collaboration Frameworks (ICFs) and cost-sharing tools can be used to avoid dissolutions that result in rural municipalities inheriting infrastructure deficits.
  • Provides a framework of questions and considerations that municipalities can talk through with their neighbours to help determine a path forward for the regional community. 

As with any report, not everyone will agree with every idea and stance. For example, the report implies that there is a movement towards restructuring for restructuring’s sake and includes critiques of per capita funding allocations and Growth Management Boards.

Overall, RMA’s report contributes to the ongoing discussion on the relationship between municipalities in Alberta and the importance of enhancing intermunicipal collaboration.

ABmunis encourages all municipalities to participate in a President’s Summit on the Future of Municipal Government on March 29 and 30, 2023. This event will provide ample opportunity for representatives to have in-depth discussions about enhancing intermunicipal collaboration mechanisms and better avoiding and managing disputes. The 2023 President’s Summit will take place in Edmonton in conjunction with our Spring Municipal Leaders Caucus (MLC), which runs until March 31. More details will follow in the New Year.