Municipal Resource Handbook
We often associate municipalities with our municipal councils and the people who serve as elected officials on those councils. Municipalities also provide essential-local services such as road maintenance, water and sewer services, and garbage collection. Municipalities share the characteristics of having land and boundaries, providing residents with ways to make decisions about local issues, and being a focus for community activities. The department of Municipal Affairs provides resources and expertise to municipalities and boards and associations that support municipalities. The provincial legislation which governs the activities of the municipalities is the Municipal Government Act (MGA). Section 3 states that the purposes of municipalities 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.
Council is the governing body of the municipal corporation and the custodian of its legislative powers under the authority of the (MGA). Councillors exercise the powers of the municipality through decisions made at council meetings and define the policies and direction that municipal administration will put into action. Section 153 of the MGA prescribes the duties for all locally elected councillors:
- to consider the welfare and interests of the municipality as a whole and bring to council's attention anything that would promote the welfare or interests of the municipality
- to participate generally in developing and evaluating the policies and programs of the municipality
- to participate in council meetings, council committee meetings and meetings of other bodies to which they are appointed by council
- to obtain information about the operation or administration of the municipality from the CAO or a person designated by the CAO
- to keep in confidence matters discussed in private at a council or council committee meeting until discussed at a meeting held in public
- to perform any other duty or function imposed on councillors by this or any other enactment or by council.
A council must appoint a Chief Administrative Officer (CAO). The CAO is the administrative head of the municipality and is responsible for the day to day operations of the municipality which includes managing municipal staff, preparing materials for council meetings, acts as the primary advisor for council, etc. Council provides direction for the CAO through bylaws and policies. Citizens take an active interest in the development and direction of local governments and wish to express their views to their locally elected representatives. There are a number of opportunities for citizens to keep informed about municipal issues and make their views known to council through either formal or informal means. The following links provide more information specific to each component of local government, the council, the administration and the public. Please contact the Capacity Building Unit of Municipal Services and Legislation Division at 780-427-2225, toll-free in Alberta by dialing 310-0000 first, for more information.