Municipal Law Seminar


Join us for our 2022 Municipal Law Seminars!

The agenda boasts a lineup of timely topics focused on the legal landscape and how it relates to municipalities in Alberta.

Topics at this year’s seminar will include:

Plenary Session:

The Thorn In Your Side: Dealing with Difficult Ratepayers

Municipalities exist to serve the residents of their communities, but sometimes matters with certain residents can escalate to an untenable level. What can municipalities do when a ratepayer’s conduct crosses the line? Covering topics like defamation, ensuring the safety of municipal premises, and engaging in litigation, this plenary fireside chat will start the day with a challenging but necessary dialogue.

Breakout Sessions:

Who’s the Boss? Provincial and Municipal Roles in Planning and Development

Alberta municipalities are delegated broad authority with respect to planning and development matters by the Municipal Government Act. However, there are situations where the Province has a role to play in the decision making process. This session will explore the interplay between provincial and municipal regulation in the area of planning and development. Topics will include Land Use Policies, ALSA Regional Plans, and circumstances where a provincial approval or interest will exempt a development from municipal requirements. The application of the provincial circulation and setback requirements in the Subdivision and Development Regulation will also be discussed, as well the process required under s. 619 of the Municipal Government Act and the nature of appeals to the Land and Property Rights Tribunal.

On the Hook: Municipal Liability

Following significant Supreme Court of Canada decisions addressing the liability of municipalities, this session will review the various ways in which municipalities may face potential claims and ways in which they can protect themselves from that liability. We will review the law relating to negligence in municipal operations like snow clearing, as well as occupier’s liability for injuries taking place on municipal property. We will also address the various statutory protections from liability afforded to municipalities (and municipal elected officials and employees), as well as discussing ways of seeking to reduce the risk of liability, including through the development of policies or the use of waivers.

Above Reproach? Challenges to Council Decisions

This session will discuss some of the different ways Council decisions may be challenged in the Courts and before administrative tribunals. While Council decisions are generally intended to be shielded from review, there are a number of ways ratepayers may seek to challenge those decisions. We will discuss challenging bylaws based on unreasonableness, judicial review based on procedural grounds and disqualifying bias, Constitutional challenges and applicable timelines. In addition, we will review that newest avenue for complaint, the Alberta Ombudsman.

Recent Developments in Construction Project Delivery Models

We will review the general types of construction project delivery models and allocation of construction risk. We will also discuss recent developments in both project delivery models and challenges related to the administration of construction projects. Attendees will leave with an understanding of different models, as well as some practical takeaways about relevant considerations when selecting a model for a specific project.

Employment Law Catch-Up

This session is devoted to several topics of interest to the human resources issues of municipalities including the different roles and obligations of Council and administration in human resources matters, updates on cannabis and drug use in the workplace, off-duty misconduct, and a workplace potpourri.

Bill 77 and Linear Taxes: Now What?

On December 2, 2021, the Government passed Bill 77: Municipal Government (Restoring Tax Accountability) Amendment Act. This Bill enhances the ability of municipalities to collect unpaid property taxes from “linear” properties such as oil wells and pipelines. We will review the key changes to the Municipal Government Act made by Bill 77 and what these changes mean for municipalities’ revenue raising and collection abilities.

Show me the $$: Property Assessment and Taxation

This session will provide a high-level overview of property assessment and taxation. We will review different types of property, how that property is valued for assessment purposes, the annual cycle for assessment, property owner complaints, other common issues, and last (but not least) how it all translates into tax for municipalities.

Bear Pit

Attendees will have the opportunity to submit legal questions on matters affecting municipalities for discussion by our panel of lawyers.