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
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.