Much of the existing legislation governing local and regional affairs has been in place for forty or more years, and while there have been many amendments to address emerging issues, the legislation has not benefitted from complete overhaul. This has resulted in a mix of provisions within and among various Acts and Regulations which can be difficult to interpret and administer. This legislation also tends to be very specific, which can limit local decision-making and discourage local responsibility.
‘Modernizing’ legislation takes many forms, from using plain language rather than complex legal language, to providing general authorities, which enable greater adaptability to local circumstances.
Government recognizes that legislative change will take two forms going forward:
- Providing the legal framework of the new Local Governance System, and
- Modernizing legislation to make it easier for users to adapt to change going forward.
Current Challenges at a glance:
- Current local governance legislation is prescriptive in nature. Many communities feel constrained by these specific requirements. Others feel that if an issue isn’t expressly identified in law, they cannot take action. A balanced approach will be required going forward.
- Current legislation can be difficult to understand and follow because it is not written using plain language and because it has been amended on an issue by issue basis over many decades.
The Path Forward - Actions to achieve Objective 5
Modernize legislation by:
- Providing legislative power to give decision-making and accountability to local/regional levels wherever possible and desirable.
- Writing new legislation, using clear, modern language, wherever possible.
- Modifying or repealing (removing) legislation that goes against modernization objectives.
- Placing significantly new concepts in new, stand-alone laws. For example, a new Regional Services Delivery Act and regulations will be developed to support the new regional services model.
- Exploring the potential to consolidate common legislation under new single Acts and Regulations. For example, a new Community Funding Act could guide both community funding and capital borrowing arrangements.
- Reconfiguring the current Community Planning Act in stages by:
- placing the portions of the Act that govern planning commissions under the new Regional Services Delivery Act, and
- creating land use planning legislation that provides clear guidance to users, and supports sustainable development.
- Overhauling the Municipalities Act to create a new and modern Local Governance Act that provides authority for decisions to be made locally.
- Legislation which supports implementation of the Action Plan for a New Local Governance System.
- Modernized legislation that supports increased and improved local and regional decision-making, service delivery and accountability and that is easier to understand and comply with.
- Less cumbersome legislation that requires fewer ongoing and housekeeping amendments to support stakeholder needs.