In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and in an attempt to relieve some of the pressure on municipalities with a number of important deadlines coming up, the Government of Alberta reacted by extending many of the deadlines contained in the Municipal Government Act (“MGA”) and related legislation. This post aims to provide an overview of the current state of the extensions enacted by the Government, with the exception of those extensions applicable to assessment.
The Government first responded with Ministerial Order 022/20, which extended many of the timelines and deadlines under the MGA holus bolus. This resulted in a number of unanticipated consequences, developer complaints and overall confusion and the Government quickly followed up with a retraction and replacement of Ministerial Order 022/20.
On April 17, 2020, the Minister of Municipal Affairs executed Ministerial Order 036/20, which rescinded and replaced Ministerial Order 022/20. Under Ministerial Order 036/20, only some of the timelines and deadlines under the MGA continue to be extended, with the balance of the timelines and deadlines reverting back to the existing requirements under the MGA. There are basically three categories of timelines and deadlines in the MGA now:
- those that remain unchanged,
- those that are extended to October 1, 2020, and
- those commenced or expired between March 25, 2020, and April 17, 2020, which now start to run on April 17, 2020.
Below is an overview of the timelines and deadlines which have been changed. If a particular provision of the MGA was not changed by Ministerial Order 036/20, the timeline or deadline remains the same and municipalities should follow their usual process as Ministerial Order 022/20 was rescinded.
October 1, 2020
Ministerial Order 036/20 requires that all municipalities complete their 2019 Statistical Information Return in accordance with the instructions prepared by Municipal Affairs, and it must be signed by the Chief Administrative officer, or a designated officer, and submitted to Municipal Affairs by October 1, 2020.
The following timelines and deadlines have been extended to October 1, 2020:
- The time for a municipality to make its financial statements, or a summary of them, and the auditor’s report of the financial statements, or a summary of them, available to the public under section 276(3) of the MGA;
- The time for municipalities to submit their financial information return, the auditor’s report on the financial information return, its financial statements and the auditor’s report on the financial statements to the Minister under section 278 of the MGA;
- The time for regional services commissions to submit their financial information return and audited annual financial statements to the Minister and each member of the commission under section 602.34 of the MGA;
- The time for a summer village to hold an organizational meeting under section 192(2) of the MGA;
- The 120-day period for a growth management board to submit a report to the Minister under section 708.09(1) of the MGA.
Between March 25, 2020 and April 17, 2020
Ministerial Order 036/20 extended the following timelines under the MGA, if the normal timeline began or ended between March 25, 2020 and April 17, 2020. In this circumstance only, the timeline for taking action now starts to run on April 17, 2020:
- Part 7: Public Participation
- Section 226(1): Report on sufficiency of petition;
- Section 229: Petition for meeting;
- Sections 231(3) and (4): Petition for vote on advertised bylaws and resolutions;
- Sections 233(2), (3), (4), (5), (6) and (7): Council’s duty on receiving certain petition;
- Section 234(3): Petitions respecting public vote bylaws;
- Section 235: Result of a vote on a question;
- Part 13: Liability of Municipalities, Enforcement of Municipal Law and Other Legal Matters
- Section 531(2): Snow on roads;
- Section 534: Public works affecting land;
- Section 537: Procedure for Challenging Bylaws and Resolutions;
- Sections 547(1)(a), (b): Review by Council;
- Sections 548(1.1)(a) and (1.1)(b): Appeal to Court of Queen’s Bench;
- Part 16: Miscellaneous
- Sections 606(2) and (5): Requirements for advertising;
- Section 608(2): Sending documents;
- Sections 610(1) and (4): Lost or unclaimed property;
- Part 17: Planning and Development
- Section 653.1(1):* Subdivision applications;
- Sections 657(1) and (5): Subdivision registration;
- Section 664.2(2): Conservation reserve;
- Section 667(1)(a): Money in place of municipal, school reserve;
- Sections 678(2), (3), and (5): Appeals;
- Sections 679(1) and (2): Notice of hearing;
- Sections 680(3) and (4): Hearing and decision;
- Sections 681(1) and (2): Failure to make decision;
- Section 683.1(1): Development applications;
- Section 684(1): Permit deemed refused;
- Sections 686(1), (2), and (3): Appeals;
- Section 687(2): Hearing and decision;
- Sections 688(2), (2.1), and (4.3): Law, jurisdiction appeals
- Subdivision and Development Regulation
- Section 6: Decision time limit;
- Off-Site Levies Regulation
- Section 11: Appeal period.
- If a Development Permit was issued between March 25, 2020 and April 17, 2020, the 21-day appeal period starts to run on April 17, 2020.
- If an SDAB hearing was held between March 25, 2020 and April 17, 2020, the written decision must be released within 15 days of April 17, 2020.
- If the 15-day period within which a petition must be filed for a vote on an advertised bylaw or resolution starts or ends between March 25, 2020 and April 17, 2020, the 15-day period starts to run on April 17, 2020.
Municipalities may want to consider communicating with applicants and affected parties these changes in the applicable timelines and deadlines, particularly when the previous deadline of October 1, 2020, was expressly communicated. There should be a relatively discreet number of applicants and affected parties impacted, but a transitional provision was required to address the retraction of the first blanket time extension.
If your Land Use Bylaw or the MGA requires notice to be provided of a particular event or deadline which will move as a result of Ministerial Order 036/20, you will need to re-notify all parties in accordance with the notification periods in your Land Use Bylaw or the MGA.
Part of the reason for retracting the blanket extension of timelines and deadlines in the MGA, was the adoption of the Public Meeting Procedures (COVID 19 Suppression) Regulation, which provides municipalities with significant flexibility in the holding appeals, meetings and public hearings which comply with the various public health orders limiting the number of physical attendees and requiring social distancing.
For timelines or deadlines which start or end after April 17, 2020, the timelines and deadlines will revert to the existing timelines and deadlines in the MGA.
These are difficult times. Municipalities are being asked to do more and deal with challenging new issues, with fewer resources than ever. Ministerial Order 036/20 is intended to provide some breathing room, while allowing municipalities to continue doing business and the economy to operate.
If you have any questions about how Ministerial Order 036/20 applies to your municipality, please do not hesitate to send us an email or give us a call. We are open for business and here to support you, even if we are working from home.