Municipal Powers & Services

Municipalities can exercise a broad range of powers under provincial legislation that reflect their status as corporate bodies, governments and providers of public services.

Municipalities have basic powers, much like an individual or private body. As public service providers, municipalities can provide any service they consider necessary or desirable, and recover the costs of those services.

Municipalities also have authority to regulate people and property, and to impose property taxes. Most of these powers are enabling, that is the municipal council can choose whether or not to exercise the power. If they do exercise the power, the legislation may set requirement's, limits and other rules that the municipality must follow.

Municipal Corporate Powers

Municipalities have the same rights, powers and privileges of a "natural person of full capacity". For example, municipalities may enter into legal agreements, buy and sell land, hire and manage staff, and take or be subject to legal actions. These are typically referred to as "corporate powers" and are enabled through the Community Charter.

Municipal Regulatory Powers

Municipalities are granted powers to regulate, prohibit or impose requirements in relation to people, property and activities. Under the Community Charter, municipalities have these powers within broadly defined areas or spheres of jurisdiction, and under other provincial legislation, municipalities have such powers for more specific topics.

Municipal Taxation

Municipalities may only impose property tax and fees as expressly authorized by the Community Charter.

Municipal Services

Municipalities have the authority to establish a wide range of services under the Community Charter and other provincial legislation. Most of the time whether or not to provide a particular service is the municipal council's choice. Municipalities are only required to provide a very small number of services such as local emergency planning or in some cases policing, depending on the size of the community.

Typically services are provided throughout an entire municipality, such as garbage collection and recycling programs, or road maintenance. However, most services may be provided in only a portion of a municipality, such as a sewer service, sidewalks or a business improvement area . These services are called local area services and the municipality may impose taxes within the local area to pay for some or all of the cost of these services.

Municipalities can also provide services outside of their boundaries to other municipalities, unincorporated rural communities (parts or all of an electoral area of a regional district), First Nation communities, or to a combination of these participants.

Municipal Delegation

A municipal council may delegate some of its powers, duties and functions, for example, delegate to senior staff the signing of certain contracts.. However, there are limitations on delegation to ensure accountability to the public. Council also has the power to establish, by bylaw, the right to have decisions of a delegate reconsidered.