MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY – Mountain View County council has been given an update on provincial legislation relating to inter-municipal development plans (IDPs) and inter-municipal collaboration frameworks (ICFs) between neighbouring rural municipalities.
The review of the Red Tape Reduction Implementation Act (Bill 25), which amends the Municipal Government Act (MGA), came during a recent regularly scheduled council meeting.
Ccouncil instructed administration to prepare the review, outlining the legislation and its possible impacts on the municipality going forward.
IDPs and ICFs are made between municipalities as guidelines for cooperation and consultation on development and other issues.
In a briefing note to council, administration said Bill 25 makes changes in terms of current IDPs and ICFs. Changes include the following:
• IDPs are no longer required where municipalities agree that they are not needed.
• ICFs no longer need to address a list of services and are only required to address services that benefit residents in more than one municipality.
• ICFs are no longer required to be passed by bylaw and can be done by resolution, similar to how the county has already approved all urban ICFs.
• ICFs and IDPs are no longer connected to one another. This means that one can exist independently of the other.
• The April 2020 deadline is still in force for urban ICFs and April 2021 for rural ICFs.
Other changes include that councils no longer need to record in the minutes of the meeting those persons attended a closed session and the reason for their attendance, and meeting minutes can now be recorded with note or comment.
In a letter received by the county, Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu outlined the new legislation’s impact on the Municipal Government Act.
“None of the proposed amendments will require municipalities to go back and make changes to already completed ICFs and IDPs,” he said. “For those requiring further work, the proposed legislative changes will make it easier to get this work done.
“Municipal Affairs will not be evaluating individual ICFs to determine whether they are ‘a good deal’ or not. As minister, my interest is that you have conversations with your neighbours about shared services, and reach an agreement that makes sense at the local level.”
Regarding the arbitration process for ICFs, “arbitration still applies where municipalities are not able to create a framework or where a dispute is not resolved within one year. However, the Arbitration Act now applies to the arbitration except as modified by the Municipal Government Act.”
Regarding the arbitration process for IDPs, “where municipalities are not able to agree on an IDP by the due date, the minister will now refer the matter to the municipal government board for recommendations. The minister may subsequently order the municipalities to establish an IDP in accordance with the minister’s order.”
Administration will be contacting other rural municipalities regarding Bill 25 and then reporting back to council before April.
Council received the report as information.
Meanwhile, the Rural Municipalities of Alberta Association (RMA) has also come out with comments about how Bill 25 will impact municipalities.
Under the legislation there is a requirement that municipalities develop joint use and planning agreements with school districts in their jurisdiction within three years of the section coming into force.
The agreements must include a process for addressing matters related to planning, development and use of school sites on municipal reserves, disposal of school sites, servicing of school sites and use of school facilities.
The RMA represents 69 rural municipalities, including Mountain View and Red Deer counties.
“The RMA plans to work with the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) and the government of Alberta to provide information and best practices as to how municipalities currently developing ICFs and IDPs with neighbours can adapt and make use of the proposed changes to support a more streamlined and efficient process,” the association said on its website.
MLA Jason Nixon also commented on the changes, saying they will help reduce the workload for municipalities.