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Alberta government tables first changes to Municipal Government Act

The provincial government has tabled the first 11 of a reported 54 amendments to the Municipal Government.

Bill 20 includes a provision that would require councillors to follow a code of conduct, something Alberta Urban Municipalities Association President Helen Rice says is wanted by Albertans to hold them more accountable.

“What they wanted to see was something that would address immediate or urgent issues that concern the conduct of individual councillors, so this has been brought to the forefront in the first batch that’s being tabled.”

The province and its municipal partners came to a consensus on these proposed changes, and the ones that will take more debate will be laid out in the fall.

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Also in this round are provisions Minister of Municipal Affairs Diana McQueen explains are meant to give municipalities more say about how they can hear from their residents.

“To put more of that responsibility into the municipalities. They will do it through a bylaw process, so the citizen engagement is still there, but this is about making sure that the many different ways to engage with their citizens are available for them.”

For example, some smaller rural communities have difficulties with following communication requirements, as they don’t have daily newspapers.

Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties President Al Kemmere says the hardest part is accommodating municipalities of all sizes.

“This allows it to get away from the ‘one size fits all’ approach. We’ve got such a diversity in shapes and sizes of communities, and this allows a little more flexibility to operate our council operations in a way that it suits best our needs, rather than just an umbrella type of management.”

The review began back in 2012, and included input from citizens at a series of community meetings, including one in Grande Prairie last April.

The MGA is the second largest piece of legislation in Alberta, and the full slate of changes are expected by the end of 2016.

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