A lot of Alberta communities have new councils in place to lead them for the next four years and those councillors have a new, revamped Municipal Government Act (MGA) to guide them.
Perhaps the change that will most affect rural communities is one that makes inter-municipal collaboration mandatory instead of the previous voluntary system.
"There's a lot of good examples of people out there that are doing good work together," acknowledged Municipal Affairs Minister Shaye Anderson. "The ICF (Inter-municipal Collaboration Framework) is saying 'Hey, you know what? To do good work on behalf of our citizens and to make sure we're cost effective and efficient, you need to work together and make some agreements that speak to that."
"When you're building, say for example a rec centre, instead of having to build something smaller because you only get so much money for it and they're very expensive, if you're working with the jurisdictions around you, you can build something that's going to be beneficial and is going to be there for years to come for not only the residents of the town, but the surrounding county as well," he outlined.
Other changes to the MGA include giving municipalities the option to have inclusionary housing in their land use bylaws and greater power to force the clean-up of empty 'brownfield' lots.
"It really gives the opportunity for local elected officials to have that flexibility to make those decisions and incentivise these people to say 'We want to make our Main Street better, we want to do things that are better for our citizens, so you need to be part of that."
Other changes to the act include everything from assessment and taxes to unified codes of conduct for municipal councillors.
A full overview can be accessed through this link.