Skip to main content

Edmonton officially calling on province to scrap contentious bills aimed at municipalities

Share

The City of Edmonton is asking the Government of Alberta to scrap two bills with big implications for municipalities.

Bill 20 includes dozens of amendments that would reshape local elections and give the province more power over municipal affairs and council members, while Bill 18 prevents provincial entities – like municipalities or post-secondaries – from accessing funding without provincial permission.

On Wednesday, city council unanimously approved a motion to ask the province to rescind both, citing a lack of stakeholder engagement.

"Consult with the municipalities, get our input, consult with other stakeholders at the universities and then bring back something that may work for everyone," Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said. "I think it could be a win-win situation for everyone if there's a little pause on it and a thoughtful approach to engagement."

Coun. Andrew Knack said the city is on board with some of the amendments in Bill 20, but many changes – like allowing corporate and union donations and adding political parties as amendments – would make elections less fair and transparent.

"Things like mandatory councillor training, that makes perfect sense," Knack said. "For all the other things, where there's clearly widespread opposition from Albertans, let's go and work through those in more detail."

On Thursday, after backlash over Bill 20, Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver promised stakeholders consultations. However, Premier Danielle Smith said Friday morning amendments would be introduced as early as this week.

McIver told media Wednesday he "had a couple conversations" with municipal leaders and representatives, but Alberta Municipalities, an advocacy group representing the communities where 85 per cent of Albertans live, told Edmonton City Council there had yet to be any meaningful consultation.

"I had one conversation with Mr. McIver on Thursday morning over the phone, he updated me on two amendments they were looking at changing," Alberta Municipalities president Tyler Gandam told council. "I have not received that to date."

City councillors and the mayor have also expressed concerns over the additional costs that Bill 20 and Bill 18 would download onto municipalities.

Gandam said banning of electronic vote tabulators and requiring virtual public engagement options would also cost communities more, with the province giving no indication it would provide funding to support those changes.

"There'll be the potential for a lot of financial impact, especially for some of the smaller municipalities," Gandam said.

Knack, who brought forward Wednesday's motion, said the bills will have big impacts on Alberta's communities and should be given far more time for consideration and consultation.

"Trying to Frankenstein this bill into 'let's keep piecemealing it and let's keep making amendments' is not going to result in thoughtful legislation," Knack said. "Don't rush this because you have a three week deadline for the spring sitting.

"We're all ready to work together."

In a Wednesday press release, Alberta Municipalities joined Edmonton's request that Bill 20 be rescinded, calling the legislation an "attempted power grab."

"The provincial government’s silence and clear reluctance to meaningfully consult with us speaks volumes," the statement read. "Here’s what it says to us – the Government of Alberta is still not listening to Albertans.

"Instead, it is blindly ploughing ahead regardless of what many Albertans think, want, and need, and without thought to the greater impacts of the bill." 

McIver has confirmed that the province is "contemplating amendments," but would not say when those would be ready or shared with municipalities.

He said he expects the bills to pass by the end of the month.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Chelan Skulski

CTVNews.ca Top Stories

BREAKING

BREAKING Indigo Books & Music shareholders vote to approve privatization sale

Indigo Books & Music Inc. shareholders have voted to approve a deal that will see the retailer become a private company. Shareholders voted Monday in favour of a $2.50 per share offer from Trilogy Retail Holdings Inc. and Trilogy Investments L.P., which have a 56 per cent stake in Indigo and are owned by Gerald Schwartz, the spouse of Indigo chief executive Heather Reisman.

Stay Connected