EDMONTON, AB (October 30, 2013): Bill 28, the Modernizing Regional Governance Act is seriously flawed legislation that tramples local autonomy, pits municipalities against each other, and concentrates even more power with the provincial government, the Wildrose Official Opposition said today.
The Act, introduced Monday in the Legislature without consultation, establishes the province’s authority to force municipalities to enter into regional planning boards like the Capital Region Board (CRB) or Calgary Regional Partnership (CRP) and imposes strict controls on such bodies. Penalties for municipalities that don’t co-operate with the imposed planning boards are severe, including stiff fines and jail time for senior officials. Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said the legislation is just the latest in a long line of laws and policies that concentrate power in the hands of the province at the expense of locally elected governments. “Bill 28 might be the most heavy-handed, draconian and backwards piece of municipal legislation ever conceived in this Assembly,” Smith said. “If it passes as is, it will essentially strip away what local autonomy municipal governments have left.” Under the Act, regional planning boards would have to align their objectives with the province’s regional plans created under the Alberta Land Stewardship Act, such as the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan. Municipalities could not undertake planning initiatives, public works or pass bylaws that don’t comply with the provincially appointed boards who will report to the Minister. Wildrose Municipal Affairs Critic Bruce Rowe said the Official Opposition is preparing several amendments to overhaul the legislation so it respects local autonomy. “This government simply does not understand that municipalities should be our partners, not our enemies, when it comes to good, sound regional planning,” Rowe said.