A local improvement is a project that council considers to be of greater benefit to an area of the municipality than to the whole municipality. Examples include things like burying power lines, street lighting design upgrades, gravel road paving, or a new sidewalk. The full costs of a local improvement project are charged back to the benefiting property owners and are paid through an increase in their property taxes.
The rules for initiating and carrying out local improvement projects are set out in sections 329 – 409 of the Municipal Government Act (the MGA). Under the rules of the MGA, property owners wishing to initiate a local improvement must submit a petition to the Town. If you would like to start a petition for a local improvement, please read through the steps set out below.
Step 1: Request a local improvement petition package
Fees may apply for the preparation of the petition package, engineering will let you know if this is the case.
You will also need to create your own petition form, witness affidavit, and a Statement of the Representative of the Petitioners. Examples of these documents can be found in the Petition Information for Electors; a guide published by Alberta Municipal Affairs.
Step 2: Circulating the petition
You will need to circulate the petition (in person) to get signatures from affected property owners. To be valid, 2/3 of the affected property owners, who represent at least 1/2 the assessed value of the affected properties, must sign in favour of the local improvement. You will need to get all the signatures within a 60-day period.
In order to determine what 1/2 the assessed property value is, you can look up the tax roll information for the affected properties here.
An owner who has more than one property in the affected area will only count as one vote.
If a home is being rented, you will need to contact the owner of the house to request their signature; tenants cannot sign on behalf of the owners.
Step 3: Submitting your petition to the Town
Once you have the signatures on your petition form and have completed your witness affidavits, along with the Statement of the Representative of the Petitioners, you can submit your petition to the Municipal Clerk’s office at the Town of Canmore Civic Centre.
Step 4: Notification
Within 45 days of the date a petition is filed with the Town, the CAO must make a declaration to council on whether or not the petition is sufficient.
If a petition is sufficient, a notice letter will be sent to all affected residents. The letter will include information on the type work that will take place, as well as the estimated cost of the project.
Once council approves the project, all affected property owners are required to pay the local improvement tax, even if they are opposed to the project.
Step 5: Petition Against process
Any affected owners who are not in favour of the local improvement have 30 days, from the mailing date of the notice letter, to appeal the project through the Petition Against process. This process is essentially the same process as petitioning for a local improvement, starting at step 1 above.