A municipality may provide any service that the municipal council considers necessary or desirable, and may provide it directly or through another public authority or another person or organization.
A municipal service means an activity, work or facility undertaken or provided for, or on behalf of, a municipality. That could include traditional local services such as sewer, water and municipal roads, to community services such as recreation programs, arenas and pools, to newer services such as economic development and public WiFi.
A municipal council may choose whether or not to offer a particular service in their municipality, based on local circumstances. Some examples of services that must be provided are local roads (highways) and police services (if the municipal population exceeds 5,000).
Most municipal services are provided throughout the municipality, and paid for by all taxpayers through property taxes or by all users through fees, or some combination of each. However, a service may also only be operated in a part of the municipality. This type of service may be established by operational policy or bylaw, or through a local area service bylaw if the costs of the service are to be paid for by those properties within the service area through a property value tax or parcel tax. Where the service will be paid for by this local service tax, it must receive elector approval through a petition, council initiative or elector assent (referendum).
A municipality may provide any service outside its boundary with the consent of the adjoining municipal council or regional district board.
One or more municipalities may provide a service jointly, or the service can be provided through the regional district. Inter-municipal services allow municipalities to engage in opportunities that achieve economies of scale – for example, two municipalities could share in providing recreation programs. Providing services jointly may interest municipalities that are in close proximity.
Municipalities have flexibility in the services they provide and how they provide them, whether directly or indirectly. Municipalities can enter into contracts and partnerships with a public authority, business, society or person where the external entity agrees to provide a municipal service on the municipality's behalf.
Municipalities are not required to adopt a bylaw to create a service. However, a municipal council may wish to adopt a bylaw for each service, or list all services in a single bylaw. Municipalities can also establish a service by a resolution and by including it in their financial plan. If a municipality wishes to recover all or part of the costs of a service from properties in only part of the municipality, then it must establish that local area service by bylaw
A bylaw is required when council wishes to regulate, prohibit or impose requirements in relation to a service, or wishes to access the variation authority contained in section 12 of the Community Charter. For example, a municipality may choose to provide a licensing system for certain classes of activities, but not for others. A municipality may also provide for a system of licences, permits or approvals in relation to a particular municipal service.
Paying for services
The broad service powers of municipalities are matched with flexibility in municipal authority to recover the costs of those services through fees and charges and to generate revenue to finance operations through property taxes. Learn more about: