Municipal Office Requirements - Frequently Asked Questions
Why do we need a municipal office open to the public?
As a level of government, there is an expectation from residents and businesses that there will be a publicly available and accessible office open to conduct business. It is for this reason that the Municipal Government Act – MGA requires that all municipal government have a municipal office location open to the public. (MGA section 85)
What are the benefits to having a municipal office open to the public?
When there is a municipal office open to the public, residents and businesses are able to contact their local government to:
- Find out more about the surrounding communities for newcomers to the municipality
- Understand what services are available to residents and businesses
- Sign up for programming or pay for services
- Pick up or submit applications for development permits
The municipal office is the one stop spot for information about the municipality and the communities within it.
What does the Municipal Government Act - MGA say about a municipal office? (MGA s. 85. Municipal office)
A council shall:
- by resolution, designate a place in the municipality as its municipal office;
- provide public notice of the location of the municipal office; and
- notify the Minister, in writing, of the civic address of the municipal office.
Office operational requirements
Within five years after the coming into force of this section, a council shall:
- ensure that its municipal office is accessible to all members of the public; and
- establish, publish and maintain a schedule of not less than twenty hours in each week during which the municipal office shall be open to serve the public.
Exception - shared office
Despite clause (1)(a), a council may designate a place outside the municipality as its municipal office where the office is shared with another municipality as its municipal office.
Our municipality does not need to be open 20 hours each week, what can we do?
If your municipality does not feel that you need a dedicated staff person and an office open 20 hours each week, you can share an office with another municipality.
What does a shared office mean?
A shared office is one where your municipality and another municipality have agreed to share space and/or a staff person to provide public services to residents and businesses. A shared services bylaw template can be found here.
Can the municipal office be in my house?
Municipal Affairs suggests for reasons of security, accessibility, liability, privacy, and records management that a person’s home is not ideally suited for a municipal office that is open to the public.
- council has by resolution made it the public office of the municipality;
- Council/CAO is advised to create a plan for the transfer of records should the CAO retire, leave the position, become incapacitated or die.
- it is open to the public 20 hours a week;
- it is publicly accessible (wheelchair, non-smoking, etc.);
- the hours are posted;
- the minister (Municipal Affairs) is notified of the office location to be posted in the municipal directory.
The homeowner of the dwelling that is designated as a municipal office should:
- contact their insurance provider for additional coverage as a public office
- ensure that files and information can be secured to prevent any confidential or personal information from being viewed.