The Municipal Act

Municipalities are responsible, accountable and mature governments. Recognizing this, The Municipal Act provides a flexible, enabling framework to enable municipalities to govern efficiently and effectively in today's environment. Municipalities have flexibility and autonomy to manage their own affairs and to

make decisions that they think will best meet the needs of their communities.

Recognizing this, there are very few services that municipalities are required by legislation to deliver. Required services include waste management, maintenance of municipal roads, protective services such as fire and for some municipalities (urban municipalities of 750 or more population) police services, and land use planning.

Municipalities, however, can deliver a wide and varied range of other services that are not required by legislation, such as recreation and economic development, as long as these services are within their legislative authority. These services reflect municipalities' own local priorities.

Municipalities are given powers under the Act that they use to deliver municipal services:

  • Government powers - municipalities have powers that are available only to governments. These are significant powers because they have a direct impact on citizens and property owners. These powers include the authority to tax property, to take an individual’s property for non-payment of taxes through the tax sale process, and to expropriate land for municipal purposes.
  • Government powers also include the authority to make laws, known as by-laws, in the municipality that regulate the behavior of individuals or private property. Examples include land use planning and building by-laws, noise bylaws, animal control by-laws, unsightly property and derelict vehicle by-laws. Municipalities have authority to enforce their own by-laws.
  • Corporate powers - municipalities have powers similar to other individuals or businesses, which enable them too perate their municipalities. These powers include the authority to buy and sell land, to buy equipment, to enter into agreements for services or to tender work.
Under The Municipal Act, municipalities have considerable autonomy and independence within the broad parameters of the legislation. This autonomy and independence is balanced with requirements for transparency and public accountability recognizing that municipalities are accountable to their citizens first and foremost.