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What is municipal government?

An overview of municipal government

According to Alberta’s Municipal Government Act, the purposes of municipal government in Alberta are to: provide good government, provide services, facilities or other things that are necessary or desirable and develop and maintain safe and viable communities.

How are municipalities organized in Alberta?

The present Alberta municipal system consists of cities, towns, villages, summer villages, municipal districts, and specialized municipalities.

Other forms of local governments include Improvement Districts, Métis Settlements and Special Areas.

How many municipalities are there in Alberta?

Cities 17
Towns  111
Villages 100
Summer Villages 51
Specialized Municipalities 5
Municipal Districts 64

What is the primary legislation guiding municipal government in Alberta?

Municipal government in Alberta, as with most municipal governments in Canada, has experienced substantial change and reform in recent years. Alberta led some of those reforms in 1994 with its Municipal Government Act. The Act established a new relationship between the province and municipalities in which the local authorities became freer to act in the best interests of their communities.

What does my municipal government do?

Municipal governments in Alberta carry out key functions and deliver specific services to Albertans. The following is a partial list of services provided by some or all municipalities:

  • Airport services
  • By-law enforcement
  • Cemeteries and other public health and welfare
  • Economic/agricultural development
  • Family and community support/day care /seniors services
  • Libraries, museums, halls
  • Parks and recreation
  • Planning, and development
  • Police, fire and emergency services
  • Public transit
  • Roadways, streets and sidewalks
  • Sanitary and storm drainage
  • Solid waste
  • Some aspects of public housing
  • Water

How is a municipality governed?

Each municipality is governed by a council, and includes one member who is the Chief Elected Official (Mayor or Reeve):

  • City or Town – consists of 7 councillors unless the council passes a bylaw specifying an alternative odd number.
  • Village or Summer Village – consists of 3 councillors unless the council passes a bylaw specifying an alternative odd number.
  • Municipal District or Specialized Municipality – the number of councillors is determined by the enactment which establishes the municipality.

A council is responsible for:

  • developing and evaluating programs and policies;
  • making sure that municipal powers, duties and functions are appropriately carried out; and
  • carrying out the powers, duties and functions expressly given to it through legislation; however, it must not exercise any power, function or duty assigned to the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) or a designated officer.

Councillors are elected in accordance with the Local Authorities Election Act. The election is by a vote of the electors of the whole municipality unless the municipality is divided into wards. When a municipality is divided into wards, only an elector who is resident in the ward may vote for a councillor in that ward and councillors are elected for each ward.