Municipal governance reform and land-use planning in Alberta – 2016 Final Report
Municipal governance reform and land-use planning in Alberta was a project of The Alberta Centre for Sustainable Rural Communities (ACSRC). The ACSRC is a joint initiative of two University of Alberta groups: the Augustana Campus and the Faculty of ALES. Their collective goal is to build resilient rural communities across Alberta.
Through this project, the ACSRC sought to assess the current governance for land-use planning in Alberta and identify gaps that could impact the implementation of the Land-Use Framework (LUF) and the seven regional plans.
The project also aimed to identify and examine models used in other jurisdictions to balance provincial and municipal interests and to identify the regulatory changes and processes necessary for the ongoing implementation of the Land-Use Framework.
This project focused on rural communities.
Overall, the findings showed there is an absence of meaningful data on the effects of LUF on municipalities. This is largely due to delays in the development and execution of regional plans in five out of the seven regions.
This project identified four major gaps within the Land-Use Framework governance structure that could impede its progress: an implementation gap, a knowledge gap, a scalar gap, and a structural gap. It identified the knowledge gap as the most evident.
The province has created broad, high-level legislation, but they have not outlined a method for regions and municipalities to follow to implement the Alberta Land Stewardship Act (ALSA), the Land-Use Framework and the regional plans.
The project found the contrasting perspectives of the province versus its municipalities to be a major issue within Alberta’s current land-use governance structure. The province designed the Land-Use Framework and the regional plans to guide general policy direction. This has led to a lack of clarity and consensus about the Land-Use Framework process for the individual municipalities within each region.
The municipal perspective also shows a fear that the Land-Use Framework and regional plans will diminish their municipal agency.
Based on this project, the ACSRC recommends the Municipal Government Act and ALSA be revised to clarify the legislation and increase municipal engagement.