Premier Jim Prentice announced Tuesday that he has signed a framework agreement with Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson on developing charters for their cities.
Prentice says the framework agreement means the City of Calgary, the City of Edmonton and the province have agreed to work to formalize an agreement that would recognize the evolving needs of each city in light of increasing populations and economic growth.
"Calgary and Edmonton face serious infrastructure deficits," Prentice said at an announcement in Calgary. "They need the freedom to come up with innovative, homegrown solutions.
City charters for Edmonton and Calgary, agreed to in principle in 2012, would provide Alberta’s big cities more powers and change how they are funded.
A final agreement was expected to be sorted out by last fall but so far, there have only been negotiations on what should be included in the charters.
Prentice said the framework agreement he and the mayors signed Tuesday called for all details of the city charters to be worked out by spring 2016.
Agreement is 'positive step:' Nenshi
While the charter won't give the cities taxation powers, it does mark a major step in recognizing both cities' new fiscal frameworks and will help them reduce their reliance on property taxes, said Nenshi.
"This is a very positive step in creating a new relationship between the province and our big cities but we still have a lot to do," Nenshi said. "I'm looking forward to working with Mayor Iveson and the provincial government on this file."
The charters will help redefine the potential of both Edmonton and Calgary, Iveson said.
However, he cautioned it will be important to make sure all involved adhere to the timelines laid out in the agreement.
City charters would give both Calgary and Edmonton more power to do things like create bylaws regarding certain things that currently fall under provincial authority, creating for-profit corporations to deliver services and programs, and enhancing flexibility and authority around local social policies.