The Emergency Management Act provides the legislative framework for local management of emergencies and disasters. Independent reports that reviewed response efforts to major disasters, in Alberta, over the last 10 years recognized a need for updated provincial legislation to help keep Albertans safe. During the summer of 2018, the provincial government engaged with 92 municipalities and 5 organizations to gather feedback that helped clarify language and update requirements in the Emergency Management Act, and inform the development of the Local Authority Emergency Management Regulation.
The Local Authority Emergency Management Regulation provides direction on emergency management roles and responsibilities and what is required of municipalities to plan and prepare for the safety of their community. It also created the requirement for specific items to be addressed within municipal bylaws related to emergency management. To give municipalities sufficient time to work toward implementation the regulations will not come into force until January 1, 2020.
Early in 2019 the City of Spruce Grove reviewed this new legislation, met with the Alberta Emergency Management Agency (AEMA), and prepared a new Emergency Management bylaw. The new bylaw was reviewed by Spruce Grove's Emergency Management Agency (EMA) as well as AEMA. The EMA made recommendations related to the bylaw and AEMA provided feedback that the proposed bylaw would be in-compliance with the new legislation.
During first and second reading of the bylaw on June 24, 2019 Council raised a question related to section 3.8., specifically the delegation of authority to "pass a resolution" to a single person. After careful review of the legislation it was determined that the declaration of a State of Local Emergency must be made via a resolution. Research also found that across North America committees of a single person are acceptable. AEMA sent Spruce Grove's question to their legislative staff who suggested the amendments proposed here for third reading. The amendments include 3.2 related to quorums, and 3.8 changing the previous delegation wording from a single person to the Emergency Advisory Committee, then identifying a quorum as being met by the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, or any two council members being present. This change means that in the absence of other council members the Mayor may still pass a resolution but if other council members are present majority rule would apply.