A Big City. A Big Future 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 remove barriers to innovation and other obstacles to greater efficiency, while ensuring appropriate transparency and accountability measures are in place. 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. 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.
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.
Developing the Charters
The City Charter initiative achieved a major milestone in August 2017 when 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. This follows on public engagement on the Charters that occurred in October 2016. The two cities and the province have been working on what could be included in the Charters since signing an agreement in October 2014.
One major aspect of the Charters that was released in August 2017 was the draft Charter Regulation, containing provisions that could potentially provide the cities with increased authority or flexibility in the following areas: governance, assessment and taxation, planning and development, and building code energy excellence. The draft Regulation was posted online for 60 days (till October 2017) for public and stakeholder feedback. The province and the two cities are reviewing that feedback and will consider any possible changes.
Another aspect of the Charters that was unveiled in August 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.
The three parties have also outlined the ongoing work of developing a financial framework that will support the needs and challenges of the two cities and the Province. A fiscal framework would include revenue sources that align with potential shifts in roles and responsibilities. This could enable the two cities to use a mix of tools over time that are responsive to changing economic circumstances.
It’s expected that various elements of the City Charters will be completed and in place between fall 2017 and winter/spring 2018. More information can be found on the Government of Alberta website.
Here are some frequently asked questions about City Charters.