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MAP – Thoughts from Alberta CAO’s (part 1 of 2)

So, you are 1 of 254 Alberta municipalities that will be spending time with Alberta Municipal Affairs to complete the requirements of the Municipal Accountability Program (MAP).  How does that make you feel?  Lucky?  Overwhelmed?

We spoke to a handful of CAO’s in Alberta (Rick Binnendyk Town of Penhold, Linda Nelson, Town of Sundre, Kim Neill, Town of Hanna and Christine Pankewitz, Village of Warburg) about what it’s like to go through MAP so that you can get a feel for what you might be facing.  If you’ve already gone through the process, we would love to hear your impressions and feedback. (send us an email)

 Background

The implementation of the ‘modernized’ Municipal Government Act in 2018 led the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to put together the MAP program:

The MAP will consist of mandatory reviews every 4 years for those with populations under 5,000.  This will support municipalities with their legislative compliance. Alberta Municipal Affairs

Quick Facts

There are 400 municipalities in Alberta and 73% of municipalities in Alberta are subject to a mandatory MAP review.  

When we pull the numbers apart, we expect that Alberta Municipal Affairs will need to complete up to 64 MAP reviews per year in order to keep pace with its directive.  These numbers are dynamic and could   grow or shrink depending on population growth.

Based on scale, communities with a population of under 5,000 have the most limited resources, but this doesn’t have to be a problem.  Well-organized, smaller municipalities can do really well by going through the process. 

Linda Nelson, CAO for the Town of Sundre, says, “As a new CAO in May 2017, I looked at MGA compliance immediately after being appointed.  I wanted to create a culture of continuous improvement, so I started by looking at MGA compliance.”

That served the Town of Sundre well, as Linda and her team took it upon themselves to tackle the MGA head-on.

While it may seem that the smallest communities may lack the capacity to do this, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs has put together an advisory team to offer the support that smaller municipalities need as they go through the process.  The intention of the Ministry is to build municipal capacity through the MAP process so that it gets easier as time goes on. 

Why MAP?  

Over the years, the Ministry has had to deal with many examples of municipal behaviour gone bad.  Usually, the most public and negative situations have come from a publicly initiated petitions that garner the support of at least 20% of the municipal population.  These lead to Municipal Inspections that are much bigger and far more invasive than what is covered under MAP.  There have been some messy examples of Municipal Reviews that are initiated in this way. 

MAP is intended to act as a preventative process aimed to give the benefit of ensuring that municipalities are more compliant with the MGA.  This should limit the likelihood that municipalities are greatly out of sync with the spirit of the Act and in doing so reduce the number of Municipal Inspections that are requested.  

Watch for the next post: What can you expect from MAP?  And more insight from CAO’s that have gone through the process.