Note: this course reflects the law as of December 2016, and does not include the changes made by the Modernized Municipal Government Act (Bill 21).
Legal Studies 479
Local Government Law in Alberta
Local governments are most closely connected to the citizens they represent. The municipality plays a critical role in providing services that impact people most in their day to day lives, whether it be through the roads that people drive upon or the collection of waste. Some have suggested that if the federal government were to disappear, it would take about a week before we notice its absence. If the provincial government were to disappear, it would take a few days to notice. However, if the municipal government were to disappear, the impact would be immediate. No other level of government affects the lives of its residents as directly and as often as does the municipal level.
The role of the Alberta municipality is broad. Councils must not only make determinations about which services are necessary for the greater good of the community, but they must also make decisions about how to fund those services. Municipal councils juggle the long-range needs of a municipality with the three-year election cycle.
The role of the municipality is also a balancing act. A municipality’s purpose is to provide services or facilities that it believes are necessary or desirable for all or part of the municipality. However, it must weigh the good for all or part of the community against the costs for other parts or other citizens. Often what one group perceives as desirable is perceived as detrimental to another group. How municipalities make decisions is guided by the scope of the Municipal Government Act and the guidance provided by the case law. This course considers all of these issues within the context of the relevant law.
After completing this course, students should be able to
- explain the basics of the law relating to municipalities, particularly in Alberta;
- describe the duties, responsibilities, and limitations of municipalities;
- explain the functions of municipalities and the scope of their authority; and
- work effectively with and in municipalities, and other agencies that interconnect with municipalities, such as utility providers.
To receive academic credit for this course you must:
- enroll in the credit course for a fee which includes provision of learner support services, or
- challenge the course for a fee by writing an examination based on the study materials presented here; the challenge exam is in the same format as provided for the credit course.
For more information see the credit course syllabus.
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