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The City of Calgary Charter

City Charters are special legislative agreements that redefine the relationship between the Government of Alberta and the two biggest cities, Calgary and Edmonton.

The Municipal Government Act governs all the municipalities in Alberta, from the smallest summer village (Betula Beach, population 10) to the largest cities (Edmonton, population 900,000 and Calgary, 1.2 million). While the MGA will continue to guide the majority of what Calgary and Edmonton do from day to day, the City Charters are specific to the needs of each of the two cities, their large-scale populations, and the large-scale challenges they face.

City Charters focus on some key policy areas amended to address the cities’ specific needs, aligning funding with responsibilities, and providing the flexibility needed to ensure Alberta’s two largest cities remain accountable to citizens and respond effectively to future challenges and opportunities.

Now, more than ever, citizens look to their governments to be efficient and responsive to their needs and to support their social well-being, contribute to their economic prosperity and help protect their environment. Developing City Charters is one way we are working to modernize government and act on your expectations.

Charter Regulation

The City of Calgary and The City of Edmonton worked with the Government of Alberta over four years to develop the City Charters. The City of Calgary Charter, 2018 Regulation was signed into law in April 2018, with a retroactive effective date of January 1, 2018.

A City Charter is intended to cover a range of issues from simple administrative efficiencies to complex regulatory changes. The City Charter authorities can be grouped into four main categories:

  • Administrative efficiency
  • Community well-being
  • Community planning
  • Environmental stewardship

The City of Calgary Charter contains 37 new authorities. Some of these authorities may be implemented immediately, but most of the authorities require The City to enact a bylaw to use them.

For citizens, the process of enacting a bylaw means that you have more opportunities to have your say about how these new authorities are used. A public hearing is held for most bylaws, meaning the proposed bylaw is advertised publicly in advance, and citizens can present their views to City Council in writing or in person during the hearing. 

Advertisements for upcoming public hearings on Charter bylaws can be found here.

Charter bylaws must also be published separately on The City’s website before taking formal effect. A complete list of current Charter bylaws can be found here.

Charter Collaboration

The City Charter is about more than new authorities for the cities. It also includes a collaboration agreement to support ongoing, long-term coordination between the two cities and the Government of Alberta. Collaboration tables have been initiated to share ideas and work towards joint goals regarding social policy, transportation, and the environment and climate change

Charter Fiscal Framework

As per the Framework Agreement on Charters, the cities of Calgary and Edmonton have agreed to develop a renewed fiscal framework that will consider the following elements:

  • A new infrastructure funding formula that would replace the existing system of capital grants with a formula based on a share of provincial revenues. The Government of Alberta reiterated this commitment in its Budget 2018 address to the Legislative Assembly.
  • Improvements to the administration of the Destination Marketing Fee, currently charged by some hotels. The goal is to enhance transparency and accountability while continuing to ensure that revenues are directed to tourism-related activities.
  • Increased municipal responsibility for debt management, allowing the cities to adopt local debt management policies including the need to maintain a strong credit rating.
  • In Budget 2018, the Government of Alberta further committed to working with the cities of Calgary and Edmonton to develop a long-term transit funding plan to support growth in the big cities and surrounding regions.

Work on the specifics of these changes to the fiscal framework continues. Any changes will be the subject of public and stakeholder engagement.