A revised Municipal Government Act (MGA) released by the provincial government yesterday includes a number of positive components, but administration is still looking through the details to see what all the changes mean for The City of Red Deer.
“There are some clearly progressive opportunities within the proposed MGA changes,” said Mayor Tara Veer. “We are pleased with the opportunity to split mill rates on non-residential properties as this allows greater flexibility in allocating taxes and a potential benefit for economic development.”
As well, changes to the offsite levies, or development fees, allows for The City to charge developers for the cost of police stations, fire stations, and other community amenities in new neighbourhoods. This could allow The City to plan for amenities to be in a neighbourhood when residents move in.
“Our use of these new offsite levies will need to be considered along with other financial tools and levers,” said Mayor Veer. “Furthermore, none of these changes lessen the need for a provincial long term funding strategy for municipalities.”
The property tax incentives related to contaminated sites, or brownfields, will potentially assist in the development of these underutilized sites in Red Deer. This allows for their cleanup and redevelopment to encourage maximum potential development.
It is not clear how our Intermunicipal Development Plan (IDP) will be affected by the proposed changes, specifically related to the Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework (ICF). The City has a long history of working collaboratively with our region through our IDP and we want to continue building on this success.
Big city charters are still being developed for Calgary and Edmonton and are not mentioned in the MGA as they are to be considered after the amendments are approved.
“As the third largest city, The City of Red Deer advocated for its own form of a charter and are disappointed to be out of the mix.” said Mayor Veer. “Through these charters, Calgary and Edmonton will have distinct rights from the rest of the province. Locally, we face the same social, economic and environmental challenges as the larger centres and being left out of the charter process puts Red Deer at a competitive disadvantage. We will continue to monitor these charters with the expectation that the creation of them serves as the foundation for a similar conversation with Red Deer.”
Overall, The City believes the amendments could benefit The City in many ways. “However the detail will need to be evaluated and the implementation through regulations will be a key success factor,” said Craig Curtis, City Manager. “We look forward to asking questions and gaining clarity from Municipal Affairs as we prepare our feedback and attend consultations in June and July.”
The City of Red Deer will continue to review the MGA amendments over the coming weeks to determine how it responds to challenges facing our community such as the cost of development, and the social, economic, safety and environmental opportunities presented by growth in Alberta’s largest cities such as Red Deer, Calgary and Edmonton.
The MGA is the legislative framework in which all municipalities and municipal entities across the Province of Alberta operate. The MGA revision is important because it governs The City’s ability to respond to growth, ensure viability, and govern our community based on local priorities.
Since 2014 when the province first started the review, The City has participated in numerous consultation sessions, worked with the Alberta Municipalities Association (AUMA) and had many direct conversations with the Minister of Municipal Affairs to ensure that the priorities and concerns for Red Deer were considered in drafting these revisions.
The first round of amendments as part of Bill 20 were passed in the Spring of 2015. They largely focused on areas of general agreement between the Government of Alberta, the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA), the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC) and other stakeholders.
For more information, please contact:
Mayor Tara Veer
The City of Red Deer
The City of Red Deer
Communications & Strategic Planning
The City of Red Deer