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Municipal Services

 

A municipality may provide any service that council considers necessary or desirable, and may provide it directly or through another public authority or another person or organization. Service means an activity, work, or facility undertaken or provided for or on behalf of the municipality. This broad authority is unprecedented in Canada and replaces the traditional approach to service empowerment with specific authorities.
 

The ability for a municipality to provide a service is permissive. This means that council may choose whether or not to offer a particular service in their municipality, based on local circumstances. The only exception to this general rule is local roads. In addition, police services are mandatory for a municipality if its population exceeds 5,000.
 

Any service can be provided outside a municipal boundary with the consent of the adjoining local government.
 

Services do not need to be created by the adoption of a bylaw. For clarity purposes council may wish to consider adopting an establishing bylaw for each service, or a bylaw that lists all services in a single bylaw. However, a bylaw is required in cases where council wishes to regulate, prohibit or require in relation to a service, or wishes to access the variation authority contained in section 12 of the Community Charter. For example, a municipality can choose to provide a licensing system for certain classes of activities, but not for others. A municipality can also, provide for a system of licences, permits or approvals in relation to a particular municipal service.
 

The service powers contained in the Community Charter are subject to specific conditions and limitations included in all provincial or federal statues. This indicates that where a potential municipal service overlaps with a provincial or federal jurisdiction, the other applicable legislation will be an essential context for defining the service. In some cases other legislation may exclude the municipality from providing a service, while in other cases a service may be provided within the context of the other legislation.
 

A service may be operated in a part of the municipality. However, one important aspect is that this type of service is that it must receive approval of the electors through a petition, council initiative, or vote.
 

One or more municipalities may provide a service jointly. This allows municipalities to engage in opportunities that achieve economies of scale.
 

The broad service powers of municipalities are matched with a broad range of cost-recovery tools such as fees and charges and property taxes.
 

 

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