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City Charter FAQs


What is a City Charter?

A City Charter is a legislative tool that will provide cities with greater flexibility, power and authority to better meet the needs of citizens. It would allow The City and the province to define new ways of working more effectively together in a broad range of areas.

The Government of Alberta is working with both the cities of Calgary and Edmonton to develop City Charters that will respect Alberta’s two large cities as economic and social drivers in the province. The Charters will also provide the two cities with the tools they need to deliver quality infrastructure and services to citizens, as well as manage growth and compete globally, ultimately benefiting all of Alberta. These changes will allow the cities to be more responsive to their citizens’ needs while remaining open, transparent, and accountable.

Are City Charters a new concept?

No. City Charters have a long history in Canada, dating back more than 200 years to the Saint John’s City Charter, established in 1785. Today, 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 Calgary, the City of Edmonton and the Government of Alberta to tailor these Charters relative to the cities local needs.

What is the difference between the Municipal Government Act (MGA) and the City Charter?

The MGA guides how all 300+ municipalities in Alberta operate. The MGA will continue to be an important piece of legislation for Alberta municipalities, including Calgary and Edmonton. However, the Charter being developed for Calgary is an opportunity to allow The City to develop unique approaches to delivering the services citizens need and expect - services that are at a scale and level of complexity not seen elsewhere in Alberta. The City Charter will give Calgary flexibility to overcome legislative and regulatory barriers so that our City Council can be more responsive to the needs of citizens through innovative solutions that better reflect the uniquely different and complex needs of the city.

What will a City Charter mean for citizens?

City Charters will help ensure Alberta’s two largest municipalities remain strong, vibrant cities that attract trade, investment and economic diversification. The City Charters will give Calgary and Edmonton more flexibility and enable them with the tools to respond to local matters, such as building excellent transportation networks, high quality infrastructure and attractive neighborhoods.

Are Calgary and Edmonton receiving special treatment compared to other Alberta municipalities?

The Government of Alberta has recognized that Edmonton and Calgary are important economic and social drivers, as well as service hubs, for all of Alberta. City Charters will lead to increased collaboration between the cities and the Province, resulting in economic efficiencies and improved service delivery for citizens.

What will the Charters include?

The Charters will create the appropriate mechanisms to provide increased authority or flexibility to Calgary in a wide range of areas, including governance, planning and development, assessment and taxation, social policies and programs, energy and the environment, transportation and economic policies.

Will the public and other stakeholders have the opportunity to provide feedback?

Yes. Members of the public and stakeholders will have opportunities to provide feedback during the Charter development. Public and stakeholder engagement on the City Charters are scheduled to take place in fall 2016. Further details will be provided on this web page. In addition, at the end of the three phases of the City Charter development, there will be an online process, as defined by the Province, which would allow an additional 60 days for the public and stakeholders to provide further feedback before the Charter is enacted.

What is the timing around the development of the Charter?

The City Charters for Calgary and Edmonton are expected to be completed and enacted before the civic elections in October 2017.