A City Charter for Edmonton
The relationship between the Alberta Government and its two biggest cities, Edmonton and Calgary, is being redefined through the development of City Charters.
City Charters shift authority from the province to the city over areas that directly impact the lives of residents. It gives us the flexibility and ability to respond to local needs with local solutions.
City Charters have a long history in Canada. Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver all have City Charters in place that reflect the unique needs of each city.
A City Charter recognizes the unique challenges and opportunities a big city faces everyday and the major contributions it makes to our province.
Edmonton has evolved into a complex corporation responsible for billions of dollars of services, infrastructure and operations. Over time our city has taken on bigger and more important roles including homelessness, social housing, poverty issues, complex policing, delivery of major infrastructure needs like transit, and other pressing issues that place increasing demands on our social and infrastructure systems.
To meet these challenges, a City Charter will provide Edmonton with the tools and flexibility to respond and adapt to evolving circumstances.
Development and approval of City Charters
Over the course of 2018, a number of elements of City Charters for Edmonton and Calgary were approved by the Government of Alberta.
Charter Fiscal Framework
The City Charters Fiscal Framework Act was introduced in the Alberta Legislature on November 29, 2018. The fiscal framework will provide Edmonton and Calgary with funding for major infrastructure to replace the cities’ Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding when that program is complete in 2022. Additional components of the framework would see dedicated funding for long-term transit in the two cities and significant regional infrastructure projects in the two cities’ metropolitan regions.
Charter Policy Tools
The City of Edmonton Charter 2018 Regulation was formally approved by the Alberta Cabinet on April 4, 2018. The Regulation contains policy tools that could potentially provide the City with increased authority or flexibility in areas such as administrative governance, assessment and taxation, city planning and environment. City Council, with input from residents and businesses, can decide which of the Charter policy tools are most appropriate for Edmonton. This is a public process that will require significant analysis, public and stakeholder engagement, policy changes, and bylaw amendments.
Some additions to the Charter Regulation were posted for public review and feedback on November 29, 2018. The additions are proposed to give the cities more flexibility in how they manage growth. The amendments address areas such as:
- expanding the use of off-site levies in new developments
- developing their own inclusionary housing programs
- managing their own debt limits
- adjusting local improvement tax timeframes, and other administrative items
Charter Collaboration Tables
Another aspect of the Charters that was unveiled in 2017 was an historic collaboration agreement that was signed between Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci, and Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Shaye Anderson. That agreement commits the Province and its two largest cities to collaborate on and develop solutions for complex issues such as: social policy, planning policy, environmental policy, energy policy/energy efficiency, transportation policy and economic policy. Formal collaboration tables made up of senior provincial and City administration meet on a regular basis to work on emerging issues of mutual concern.
It’s expected that all the elements of the City Charters will be completed and in place by early 2019. More information can be found on the Government of Alberta website.
Here are some frequently asked questions about City Charters.