A municipal council may wish to consider restructuring when a municipality faces significant challenges that make it difficult to provide sufficient services to its citizens, such as:
the resignation or retirement of the CAO (administrator) if council is unable to recruit a qualified replacement;
an inability to fill vacant seats on council;
an inability to manage the municipal assets;
non-compliance with legislative requirements;
financial difficulties; or
other reasons that are evident to the residents, elected officials or staff members.
Municipal councils experiencing administrative or governance challenges should be proactive in order to avoid a decrease in the level of service provided to citizens, legislative compliance issues, or costly administrative issues.
Section 53(1)(c) of The Municipalities Act provide the authority for a municipality to apply for inclusion.
Inclusion is the process of transitioning the administration of a community from an urban council to the council of the surrounding rural municipality. This process was formerly known as dissolution.
Should a municipality apply for inclusion, it may become either a hamlet or organized hamlet.
1. Meeting of Urban and Rural Municipal Councils
Once a municipality has decided to contemplate inclusion, the council should meet with the council of the surrounding rural municipality to discuss the proposal. While not required, the councils may wish to negotiate a voluntary municipal restructuring agreement.
Council must prepare an application for inclusion which includes a completed Form E from The Municipalities Regulations and the following schedules:
- Schedule 1: a certified copy of the resolution of the council requesting inclusion.
Schedule 2: a map or plan showing the boundaries of the municipality requesting inclusion, including a legal description, verified by the administrators of the municipalities affected by the proposal.
Schedule 3: an outline of the future growth or development of the rural municipality as a result of the inclusion.
Schedule 4: a proposed operating and capital budget for the rural municipality following the inclusion.
Schedule 5: a certified complementary resolution from the rural municipality affected by the inclusion.
Schedule 6: a copy of the public notice and any written submission respecting the proposal that was received by council.
Schedule 7: minutes from the public meeting held to discuss the proposal.
Schedule 8: a statement setting out the population, total taxable assessment, total number of dwellings and lots for each municipality involved in the inclusion. Population and dwelling unit data can be found from Statistics Canada Community Profiles website.
- Schedule 9: if applicable, attach a signed copy of any voluntary restructuring agreement.
The application must be available for public viewing from the date the Notice of Intent is published until the last day when a person may submit a written objection.
3. Public Consultation
i) The Notice of Intent must be:
- published once a week for two consecutive weeks in a locally circulated newspaper;
- personally delivered or sent by ordinary mail to:
- each person assessed on the last revised assessment roll with respect to land or improvements located in the area affected by the proposed application;
- the council of all involved municipalities affected by the proposal; and
- the board of all school divisions affected by the proposal.
The notice must contain:
- a map and description of the proposed incorporation;
- a brief explanation of the reasons for the proposal;
- a statement saying where the proposal may be examined;
- a statement saying that anyone who objects to the proposal may file a written objection, clearly explaining their reasons for objecting to the proposal, with the council within four weeks of the last publication of the notice; and
- the date, time, and place of a public meeting that will be held by council to discuss the proposal. The meeting must be held at least one week after the day on which the notice was last published, delivered, or sent.
ii) Public Meeting
Pursuant to Section 57 of The Municipalities Act, council must conduct the public meeting. At the meeting, all material required to be included with the submission must be available for public review, as per Section 59 of The Municipalities Act . Please see the “application” section for further details. It is recommended that the representatives from the rural municipality attend the public meeting and be available for questions regarding the proposal.
iii) The Possibility of a Vote
Pursuant to Section 58 of The Municipalities Act:
- a vote may be called by a municipal council that is party to the proposal;
- the Minister, if it is considered desirable and in the public interest to call a vote, may require a municipal council to hold a vote; or
- the voters of a municipality may petition their council to hold a vote.
4. Submit Application for Inclusion
Once the required public consultation is complete, an application for inclusion may be submitted to the Ministry. If necessary, the Minister may request further information or clarification respecting any aspect of the application. The Minister may also request the Saskatchewan Municipal Board to review an application for inclusion.
Minister's Decision and Effect
After a review of the submission, the Minister may reject or accept the submission:
- If rejected, the Ministry will provide reasons for the decision and publish a notice in a newspaper circulated in the area of the proposal. The urban municipality cannot submit other application(s) that the Minister considers substantially similar until three years after the rejection
- If the Minister is of the opinion that the restructured rural municipality will be a viable entity, the Minister may issue an order including the area of the former urban municipality within the area of the rural municipality.
Once an order is made for the restructuring, on and from the effective date of the order:
- The members of the urban municipal council cease to have any further authority and administration over the community will transfer to the RM;
- All bylaws and resolutions in force in the urban municipality continue in force as the bylaws and resolutions of the new municipality for one year or until they are sooner repealed or others are made in their place;
- All taxes and local improvement charges due in that portion of the rural municipality that is incorporated as the new municipality at the time of the incorporation are deemed to be taxes and charges due to the new municipality and may be collected and dealt with as if they were imposed in accordance with this Act or The Local Improvements Act, 1993;
- All rights of action and actions by or against the former municipality may be commenced, continued or maintained by or against the new municipality;
- All land or improvements vested in the former municipality are vested in the new municipality and, subject to any trusts or other conditions that may be applicable, may be dealt with by the new municipality in its own name;
- All other assets, liabilities, rights, duties, functions and obligations of the former municipality are vested in the new municipality and may be dealt with by the new municipality in its own name; and
- Any proceedings commenced by the former municipality pursuant to The Tax Enforcement Act on any real property within that portion of the former municipality that is incorporated as the new municipality are, for all purposes, deemed to have been commenced by the new municipality, and after the order is made the administrator of the new municipality shall carry out all the duties imposed by The Tax Enforcement Act respecting redemption and furnishing of returns to the Registrar of Titles, and title to the real property is to be issued in the name of the new municipality.
The order will appoint someone to settle the assets and liabilities of the included municipality. This is done to ensure that the rural municipality that is involved in the inclusion is not burdened with outstanding liabilities from the other municipality.
As soon as possible after the date of the inclusion listed on the order, the administrator of the former municipality shall provide to the administrator of the rural municipality that is gaining the land either:
- a copy of the assessment and tax roll for the part of the municipality that has been added to the rural municipality; or
- a statement setting out the pertinent details of the information reflected in the assessment and tax roll for that part of the included municipality.
It is important to note that all bylaws and resolutions in force in the included municipality continue in force as bylaws and resolutions of the rural municipality until they are repealed or others are made in their place. This primarily affects planning and land use bylaws that will follow the land. The rural municipality should pass bylaws to replace those of the included municipality with those of the rural municipality.