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 (MGA) (2.08 MB) 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. Implementing City Charters is one way we are working to modernize government and act on your expectations.
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 (502 KB) was signed into law in April 2018, with a retroactive effective date of January 1, 2018. Amendments were made in January, 2019.
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
Implementing City Charter Authorities
The City of Calgary Charter contains 44 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.
To coordinate implementation of the City Charter authorities across our services, The City has developed an internal process and guidance materials.
For citizens, the process of enacting a bylaw means that there are more opportunities to provide input about how these new authorities are used. A public hearing is held for most Charter 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.
The City is tracking the implementation of City Charter authorities. A summary of implementation status can be found here (524 KB). For additional information on the implementation of City Charter authorities, please contact CityCharter@calgary.ca.
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
Under the Framework Agreement on Charters, the Government of Alberta and the cities of Calgary and Edmonton agreed to develop a renewed fiscal framework, considering 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.
- 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.
In November 2018, the Government of Alberta introduced and passed the City Charters Fiscal Framework Act (550 KB), introducing a revenue sharing plan to replace the existing system of capital grants in 2022-23, as well as a long-term transit funding plan to take effect in 2027-28.
These changes will inject greater stability and predictability into The City’s revenues when they take effect. In the meantime, The City is also committed to continued work with the Government of Alberta to deliver on its outstanding fiscal framework commitments, including reform of the Destination Marketing Fee.
For more information, contact CityCharter@calgary.ca.