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Client Update: Bylaw requirements under the Municipal Government Act

Perlene Morrison and Hilary Newman

Municipalities in Prince Edward Island entered a new era when the Municipal Government Act (the “MGA”) was proclaimed into force on December 23, 2017. The MGA modernized the Province’s municipal legislation and repealed and replaced the Charlottetown Area Municipalities Act, the City of Summerside Act, and the Municipalities Act.

Many municipalities have a significant amount of work to do in order to comply with the new MGA. One of the most pressing concerns for many municipalities will be ensuring that the MGA’s bylaw requirements are met within the requisite time limits. Specifically, the MGA requires all municipalities to have the following bylaws enacted on or before December 23, 2018:

  • procedural bylaw (including conflict of interest rules);
  • code of conduct bylaw;
  • records retention and disposal bylaw;
  • access to information bylaw; and
  • protection of personal information bylaw.

The MGA also states that municipalities must pass an election bylaw by July 30, 2018. The Minister of Communities, Land and Environment has since extended this deadline to September 5, 2018 for all municipalities except the Resort Municipality. The Resort Municipality must pass its election bylaw by July 13, 2018 (as its election takes place in August, 2018).

Municipalities are required to enact the following bylaws at a later date:

  • emergency management program bylaw; and
  • purchasing or procurement bylaw.

It is important to note that the bylaws set out above include only those which the MGA mandates that all municipalities enact. Some municipalities may be required to enact additional bylaws. For example, municipalities who borrow funds, provide grants, provide compensation to council members, establish reserve funds, establish tax rate groups, or wish to appoint enforcement officers are obligated to enact specific bylaws prior to taking such actions. Municipalities without an official plan and zoning bylaws must have them in place no later than December 23, 2022. The circumstances under which these additional bylaws may be needed are likewise prescribed in the MGA.

Procedure for Enacting Bylaws

To validly enact a bylaw it must be read and formally approved at two separate council meetings which are open to the public and held on different days. The bylaw must be approved by a majority of the council members present and voting at each meeting. After its second reading the bylaw must be formally adopted by council resolution.

Next Steps for Municipalities

Municipalities should be mindful of the timeline for enacting the MGA’s required bylaws. Municipalities who already have bylaws in place to address these areas should review their bylaws to make sure that they satisfy the requirements of the MGA. We encourage all municipalities to contact their legal advisors to ensure that their bylaws comply with the new legislation, both in form and in content.

If you have any questions about the MGA, please do not hesitate to contact our municipal government team at Stewart McKelvey in Charlottetown: Perlene Morrison and Jonathan Coady.

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