Municipal Legislative Framework
The Municipal Act of Manitoba provides a flexible, enabling framework to enable municipalities to govern efficiently and effectively in today`s environment. Municipalities have flexibility and autonomy to manage their own affairs and to make decisions that they think will best meet the needs of their communities.
Recognizing this, there are very few services that municipalities are required by legislation to deliver. Required services include waste management, maintenance of municipal roads, protective services such as a fire and for some municipalities (urban municipalities of 750 or more population) police services, and land use planning. Municipalities, however, can deliver a wide and varied range of other services that are not required by legislation, such as recreation and economic development, as long as these services are within their legislative authority. These services reflect municipalities own local priorities.
Municipalities are given powers under The Municipal Act that they use to deliver municipal services:
Government powers – municipalities have powers that are available only to governments. These are significant powers because they have a direct impact on citizens and property owners. These powers include the authority to tax property, to take an individual’s property for non-payment of taxes through the tax sale process, and to expropriate land for municipal purposes.
Government powers also include the authority to make laws, known as by-laws, in the municipality that regulate the behaviour of individuals or private property. Examples include land use planning and building by-laws, noise by-laws, animal control by-laws, unsightly property and derelict vehicle by-laws. Municipalities have authority to enforce their own by-laws.
Corporate powers – municipalities have powers similar to other individuals or businesses, which enable them to operate their municipalities. These powers include the authority to buy and sell land, to buy equipment, to enter into agreements for services or to tender work.
Under The Municipal Act, municipalities have considerable autonomy and independence within the broad parameters of the legislation. This autonomy and independence is balanced with requirements for transparency and public accountability recognizing that municipalities are accountable to their citizens first and foremost.
LEGISLATION GOVERNING MUNICIPALITIES
The Municipal Act – the most important Act for municipalities. The Act establishes the framework for municipalities, and sets out municipalities’ governance and corporate powers.
The Municipal Council Conflict of Interest Act – defines situations when an individual member of council’s personal interest may conflict with the broader municipal interest, and imposes consequences on council members when they put their personal interests first.
The Planning Act – establishes the legislation to guide the use and development of private land. The Act also establishes Planning Districts and their authorities. Provincial Land Use Policies, which guide local planning decisions, are established in a regulation under the Act.
The Municipal Assessment Act – establishes the framework for property assessment and taxation, as well as the authority of municipal Boards of Revision to consider property assessment appeals.
The Emergency Measures Act – gives municipalities responsibilities for emergency preparedness and authorities for states of emergencies.
The Public Utilities Act – establishes Public Utilities Board oversight over municipal utilities (water & sewer utilities), including the approval of rates.
The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act – governs access to information held by municipalities and other public bodies, as well as rules to protect the privacy of personal information.
The Ombudsman Act – gives the Ombudsman the authority to investigate complaints about the administration of municipal policies and programs.
The Environment Act - establishes requirements for environmental assessments and licensing, including municipal wastewater facilities, landfills, use of pesticides, livestock operations, etc.
The Water Rights Act – establishes the rules for the use of water, including requirements for drainage licenses.
The Conservation Districts Act – provides the framework for water conservation on a watershed basis and gives authority to Conservation District Boards.
The Regional Waste Management Act – provides the framework for regional delivery of municipal waste management facilities, and the authority of regional Boards.
The Highway Traffic Act – provides that municipalities are traffic authorities with powers to set traffic certain rules within the municipality, including parking, snow routes, weight restrictions on roads, etc.
The Public Schools Act – establishes Council’s responsibility to fix and impose a school division special levy that is apportioned to the municipality by the school division(s) and the education support levy requested by The Public Schools Finance Board.
This list is not exhaustive – other Acts may also apply to municipalities.
Acts are available electronically on the Government of Manitoba’s website at: