The Municipal Act
Enacted in 1996 after broad consultation with municipalities and the public, The Municipal Act provides a flexible, enabling framework for municipalities’ to operate in. Replacing old, outdated legislation that limited municipalities ability to operate, the Act now permits municipalities to respond effectively to the challenges they face.
Some of the concepts reflected in the Act are:
- Broad corporate powers to enable councils to take action to meet local needs, such as the ability to provide protective services (fire and police), parks and recreation, municipal roads and drains, garbage collection and/or recycling and economic development, acquire land, and to deliver those services as determined best (subject to any express limitations in the legislation).
- "Spheres of jurisdiction” which describe the matters about which municipalities can pass bylaws to regulate activities, for example:
- animal control;
- building inspection;
- abandoned or derelict vehicles; and
This independence and autonomy are balanced by significant public accountability obligations, such as:
- requirement that council must adopt a procedures by-law;
- requirement that council must adopt an annual financial plan, hold a hearing for the public to attend, and appoint an auditor to annually report on the municipality’s operations; and
- management, retention and access to municipal records.