Bill 20 changes the rules of the local advocacy, we need to be ready to play a new game

For those who follow the ins-and-outs of municipal politics in Alberta closely, you’re likely already aware of the Provincial Government’s changes proposed in Bill 20. To catch everyone up, the Provincial Government is proposing to, amongst other things, 

  • overhaul municipal election campaign financing rules;
  • introduce municipal political parties;
  • increase provincial control over local decision-making; and
  • remove efficient, effective, and safe ways to count votes.

Bill 20 has not been passed yet and the Provincial government has already communicated that they may walk back some of the proposed changes. We might see further changes to the proposal, but we expect most of the changes to be ushered in for the October 2025 Municipal Election. If you want to read more about some of these proposed changes, check out this blog from Dr. Jared Wesley, Political Scientist at the University of Alberta.

We share many concerns that have already been raised, especially the province exerting more control over decision-making in cities. The changes, as currently written, could result in fractious reversals of local decisions, or removal of locally popular councillors for taking positions that differ from the provincial government’s. Councillors are locally elected officials who are accountable to their constituents; they need to be able to do their jobs without worrying about reprisals from the province. 

These board stroke changes would expand the scope of local advocacy, putting additional strain on volunteer-run organizations like ours, who would need to grow our advocacy efforts focused on the provincial government, in addition to the work we already do at the municipal level. We call on the province to remove or seriously circumscribe these powers so that municipalities can govern effectively.

Paths for People first and foremost supports local elected officials speaking out against these changes. You can read more from Alberta Municipalities here (more here) and Rural Municipalities of Alberta here. The positions of several members of council are listed below.

If you are aware of any other Councillor’s statements, please share them with us and we will update the website.

At Paths for People, we will be watching closely to understand how our advocacy will need to evolve as these changes take effect. This could likely mean we shift away from lobbying individual members of City Council towards lobbying both parties and those who choose to run independently. No one yet knows who all these parties will be, how many there will be, or who will run these parties. At the end of the day, it will be important for all parties to include municipal issues within their platforms. 

Nothing is more municipal than the roads, sidewalks, and active transportation infrastructure that stitches together our community and neighbourhoods. Therefore, we will focus on ensuring that safer, more livable streets continue to be a growing priority for the City. We will work to influence all municipal candidates and parties to ensure that they put forward proposals that build a more efficient and accessible transportation system.

Paths for People also encourages our members to get involved in these conversations. Ultimately, local governance is best served when well-informed people seriously contemplate how to run a community effectively.

Furthermore, if Bill 20 is passed, we call on members to DONATE to candidates and parties that take active transportation seriously. The changes to campaign financing means that corporations and unions will have more financial influence over elections. This means that local issues that are not affiliated with either of these kinds of entities may get drowned out.  Invest your money in candidates and parties that take safer, more liveable streets seriously. 

On top of this, continue to financially support local advocacy organizations by donating. Groups like ourselves, Climate Justice Edmonton, and Grow Together Edmonton depend on volunteers and donors to keep afloat. Dedicate your time and resources to these organizations to ensure that city-building continues to be a key issue.