First phase of city charters for Edmonton, Calgary now complete

Edmonton will have more control over bylaw and traffic tickets, speed limits and climate change planning as the first phase of the city charter with the province comes into effect.

'This is a first step in the right direction,' says Edmonton mayor

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson champions the city charters adopted by the province and its two biggest cities. (CBC)

Edmonton will have more control over bylaw and traffic tickets, speed limits and climate change planning as the first phase of the city charter with the province comes into effect.

"This is a first step in the right direction," Edmonton's Mayor Don Iveson said Friday. "These discussions are critical to Edmonton's future and our ability to fully participate in the future of Alberta's economy."

Last summer, the province unveiled draft city charters with proposed regulations giving Edmonton and Calgary more powers to make their own rules. The draft document encompasses almost 40 regulatory changes, from the minutiae of municipal decision-making to sweeping changes on how major capital projects are funded.

Previously, the two cities — home to half of Alberta's population -— fell under the Municipal Government Act, the same piece of legislation that applies to every other city, town, village and hamlet. 

The provincial government recognized that the large big cities have much different needs. According to Alberta Minister of Municipal Affairs Shaye Anderson, "This gives our two largest cities new tools to adapt municipal laws to better fit their needs."

With the province treating the cities like peers rather than subordinates, the new "relationship could open up opportunities for us to solve, from schooling to climate and environment challenges," Iveson said.

Edmonton and Calgary negotiated city charters with the province that allows the two biggest cities to be be treated differently than smaller urban centres.

The first phase of the charter allows the cities to:

  • Establish a municipal administrative tribunal system (for example, a place to adjudicate traffic tickets) to streamline and improve customer service for transit and parking bylaw infractions.
  • Vary parts of the Traffic Safety Act to allow for the use of variable speed limit signage.
  • Develop mandatory municipal climate change adaptation and mitigation plans.
  • Work with the province at collaboration tables to find solutions to issues, such as planning.
  • Send electronic assessment and tax notices to citizens who ask, instead of paper copies.

The province and the two cities are also working on an agreement over how to plan future schools.

The second phase of the city charters will focus on a fiscal framework and long-term transit investment.

The three governments are working to develop a long-term revenue-sharing agreement, with legislative changes proposed for later this year, a news release said.