What are Municipalities?

Alberta is made up of cities, towns, villages, hamlets, summer villages, municipal districts and specialized municipalities, all of which are considered municipalities under the legislative framework outlined in the Municipal Government Act. The Municipal Government Act touches the daily lives of all Albertans, no matter which type of municipality they reside in. This legislation helps to define how our municipalities function, develop land, raise funds for things like services, and more. In other words, it is the guide to how Alberta municipalities operate.

The purposes of municipalities, as defined in Section 3 of the Municipal Government Act, are: 

  • To provide good government.
  • To foster the well-being of the environment.
  • To provide services, facilities or other things that, in the opinion of council, are necessary or desirable for all or a part of the municipality.
  • To develop safe and viable communities.

As local governments, municipalities are often associated with municipal councils and the people who serve as the elected officials on those councils. Municipalities provide services to the communities that they serve, providing services such as road maintenance, water and wastewater utilities, waste management, and emergency management. 

Alberta is the first province in Canada to provide municipalities with "natural persons power" in 1995. With natural person powers, municipalities have the capacity, rights, powers, and privileges of a natural person (subject to the limits set out in the Municipal Government Act) and can therefore exercise broad powers that are not explicitly set out in legislation. These powers address daily operational matters such as entering into contracts, acquiring property, and hiring staff. 

In addition to municipalities, there are other forms of local governments and authorities, such as school boards, regional services commissions, growth management boards, and regional health authorities. The ministry of Municipal Affairs provides resources and expertise to municipalities, boards and associations that support municipalities. 

Information about municipalities

To read more about municipal government in Alberta, please see the following:

  • Date modified: 2017-11-07