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Frequently asked questions about the creation and policies of a City Charter.

What is a City Charter?

A City Charter is a legislative tool that could provide cities with greater flexibility, power and authority to better meet the needs of citizens. It would allow the City and the Province to define new ways of working more effectively together in a broad range of areas.

The Government of Alberta is working with both the cities of Edmonton and Calgary to develop City Charters that will respect Alberta’s two large cities as economic and social drivers in the province. It is expected that the Charters could also provide the two cities with the tools they need to deliver quality infrastructure and services to citizens, as well as manage growth and compete globally, ultimately benefiting all of Alberta. These changes could allow the Cities to be more responsive to their citizens’ needs while remaining open, transparent, and accountable.

Are City Charters a new concept?

No. City Charters have a long history in Canada, dating back more than 200 years to the Saint John’s City Charter, established in 1785. Today, Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver all have City Charters in place that reflect the unique needs of each city. No two city charters are the same, which provides an opportunity for the City of Edmonton, the City of Calgary and the Government of Alberta to tailor it relative to local needs. 

What is the difference between the Municipal Government Act (MGA) and the City Charter?

The MGA guides how all 300+ municipalities in Alberta operate. The MGA will continue to be an important piece of legislation for Alberta municipalities, including Edmonton. However, the Charter being developed for Edmonton is an opportunity to allow the City to develop unique approaches to delivering the services that citizens need and expect - services that are at a scale and level of complexity not seen elsewhere in Alberta. The City Charter will give the City flexibility to overcome legislative and regulatory barriers so that City Council can be more responsive to the needs of citizens through innovative solutions that better reflect the uniquely different and complex needs of the city.

Are Edmonton and Calgary receiving special treatment compared to other Alberta municipalities?

The Government of Alberta has recognized that Edmonton and Calgary are important economic and social drivers, as well as service hubs, for all of Alberta. City Charters will lead to increased collaboration between the cities and the Province, resulting in economic efficiencies and improved service delivery for citizens.

What will the Charters include?

The Charters will create the appropriate mechanisms to provide increased authority or flexibility to Edmonton in a wide range of areas, including governance, planning and development, assessment and taxation, social policies and programs, energy and the environment, transportation and economic policies.

Will the public and other stakeholders have the opportunity to provide feedback?

Yes. Members of the public and stakeholders will have a number of opportunities to provide feedback during the Charter development. Public and stakeholder engagement on the initial City Charter package took place in October 2016. Another engagement process occurred in August-October 2017 and January-March 2018 when elements of the Charter Regulation were posted and shared for public review and feedback. Due to the complex nature of the Charter, it will take well into 2018 for all aspects of the Charter to be approved. 

What is the timing around the development of the Charter?
  • October 2014 - the Government of Alberta, the City of Edmonton and the City of Calgary sign an agreement to develop City Charters
  • November 2015, January 2016 - the mayors of Edmonton and Calgary meet with the Premier and members of the provincial cabinet to present their vision for a new relationship between the two cities and the province
  • October 2016 - public and stakeholder engagement on the initial Charter package  
  • Summer 2017 - the mayors of the two cities and two Alberta cabinet ministers unveiled significant work done to date on the three aspects of the City Charters 
  • April 2018 - City of Edmonton Charter 2018 Regulation approved by Alberta Cabinet
  • December 2018 - The City Charters Fiscal Framework Act, Bill 32, is approved by the Alberta Government
  • January 2019 - deadline for public feedback on second set of City Charter regulations

For More Information

John Pater

Title Senior Policy Advisor



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