Opposition parties are vowing to fight proposed legislation that will give the Alberta government greater power over regional planning boards.
Bill 28, introduced this week, would allow the government to appoint board members and chairs, set geographic boundaries and fine mayors and councillors $10,000 or a year in jail for refusing to hand over paperwork.
“It strips local municipalities of power and it has some of the most draconian provisions I’ve ever seen,” said Wildrose leader Danielle Smith.
Smith accused the Progressive Conservative government of purposefully introducing the legislation just as municipal politicians are being sworn-in across the province.
“This government is trying to sneak this legislation in while they aren’t looking,” she said. “They want it passed by next week.”
The bill also angered Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman, who characterized it as “monstrous.”
"They’re basically giving themselves a notwithstanding clause to override a court decision and that's not a go in my book,” she said.
“I will be bringing forward amendments to get that the hell out of the bill.”
New Edmonton mayor not worried
Municipal Affairs MInister Doug Griffiths says the legislation isn’t new.
"The regulations have been in place for six years, which was designed to create the Capital Region Board,” he said. “This legislation, if you read it, is a mirror image of it."
Edmonton’s new mayor isn’t concerned about the changes.
During his campaign, Don Iveson advocated for better cooperation between municipalities in the Edmonton region so he commended the government for taking action.
“I think there's broad acceptance in the Edmonton region now that we do have to work together,” he said.
“There needs to be be some venue for that, and legislating that there is going to be a regional board is not going to be a surprise to anyone.”
But Smith says the Alberta mayors she’s heard from are “ballistic” about the changes.
"I think the mayors who aren’t ballistic are probably ones who haven’t read the act yet.”