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Wild Animal Law of Canada


Municipal Government Act (Alberta)

[current to 01 August 2016 (see note)]
Note Re Currency of Law: This module reflects the Municipal Government Act ('MGA') as it was posted on the Alberta Statutes website at 10 August 2016, though it had apparently been amended at that time. The amended version was not available online as of 10 August 2016.
Note Re Application of the Municipal Government Act

The Municipal Government Act sets out the legal jurisdiction of municipalities throughout Alberta.

This law bears on the wildlife issues of:

The Municipal Government Act grants municipalities in Alberta very broad (even ill-defined) jurisdiction to address animal issues. This authority is simply stated as follows [MGA 7(h)]:
7 A council may pass bylaws for municipal purposes respecting the following matters:

(h) wild and domestic animals and activities in relation to them;
Traditionally, Canadian municipal by-law jurisdiction with respect to animals has been limited to public safety and nuisance control, classically control of stray dogs. However both of those traditional heads of authority are addressed independently in that same MGA section, as follows [MGA 7(a,c)]:
(a) the safety, health and welfare of people and the protection of people and property;

(c) nuisances, including unsightly property;
So the MGA 7(h) animal jurisdiction can be fairly interpreted as applying quite widely in relation to anything to do with animals, even entrenching into animal-related fields that other jurisdictions, particularly the province itself, have already occupied (eg. animal welfare, circuses, zoos etc).

Modern judicial attitudes are highly tolerate of conflicts between laws from different levels of government (the issue of 'paramountcy'). The current doctrine from the Supreme Court of Canada on paramountcy is stated in 114957 Canada Ltée (Spraytech, Société d'arrosage) v. Hudson (Town) (SCC, 2001). This test is two-step examination of (1) the mutual operability of the competing laws ("operability") and (2) frustration of purpose of the dominant legislator ("frustration"). This doctrine was reaffirmed by that same court in Saskatchewan (Attorney General) v. Lemare Lake Logging Ltd., 2015 SCC 53 (CanLII).

Regulatory methods that municipalities may use in bylaws are listed here [MGA 8]:
8. Without restricting section 7, a council may in a bylaw passed under this Division

(a) regulate or prohibit;

(b) deal with any development, activity, industry, business or thing in different ways, divide each of them into classes and deal with each class in different ways;

(c) provide for a system of licences, permits or approvals, including any or all of the following:

(i) establishing fees for licences, permits and approvals, including fees for licences, permits and approvals that may be in the nature of a reasonable tax for the activity authorized or for the purpose of raising revenue;

(ii) establishing fees for licences, permits and approvals that are higher for persons or businesses who do not reside or maintain a place of business in the municipality;

(iii) prohibiting any development, activity, industry, business or thing until a licence, permit or approval has been granted;

(iv) providing that terms and conditions may be imposed on any licence, permit or approval, the nature of the terms and conditions and who may impose them;

(v) setting out the conditions that must be met before a licence, permit or approval is granted or renewed, the nature of the conditions and who may impose them;

(vi) providing for the duration of licences, permits and approvals and their suspension or cancellation for failure to comply with a term or condition or the bylaw or for any other reason specified in the bylaw;


(d) provide for an appeal, the body that is to decide the appeal and related matters.

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Last modified: 16-11-20
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