Specialized municipalities of Alberta

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Distribution of Alberta's five specialized municipalities and two urban service areas

A specialized municipality is a type of municipal status used in the Canadian Province of Alberta. Alberta specialized municipalities are unique local governments that can be formed without resorting to special acts of Alberta's legislature.1 Often, they allow for the coexistence of urban and rural communities under a single municipal government.1

Specialized municipalities may be formed under the authority of Section 83 of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) under one of three of the following scenarios:

  • where the Minister of Alberta Municipal Affairs (AMA) is satisfied that the other incorporated statuses under the MGA do not meet the needs of the proposed municipality's residents;
  • to form a local government that, in the opinion of the Minister of AMA, will provide for the orderly development of the municipality in a similar fashion to the other incorporated statuses within the MGA, including other previously incorporated specialized municipalities;
  • for any other circumstances that are deemed appropriate by the Minister of AMA.2

Applications for specialized municipality status are approved via orders in council made by the Lieutenant Governor in Council under recommendation from the Minister of AMA.2

Alberta has five specialized municipalities that had a cumulative population of 178,598 and an average population of 35,720 in the 2011 Census.3 Alberta's largest and smallest specialized municipalities are the Strathcona County and the Municipality of Jasper with populations of 92,490 and 4,051 respectively.3

44 elected officials (four mayors, one reeve and 39 councillors) provide specialized municipality governance throughout the province.4


An order in council to incorporate any municipality must give the municipality an official name.2 Of Alberta's five specialized municipalities, two of them have branded themselves simply as municipalities in their official names, while two others have branded themselves as counties. The remaining specialized municipality has branded itself as a regional municipality.

The use of the regional municipality term in the official name of the one specialized municipality has led to a common belief that a regional municipality is its own separate municipal status type in Alberta, which is not the case. Meanwhile, the use of the county term in the official names of two specialized municipalities and 46 municipal districts has partially led to a common belief that a county also is its own separate municipal status type, which also is not the case. The other major contributor to this common belief is that a county was a former municipal status type in Alberta prior to the County Act being repealed in 1995.

List of specialized municipalities

Name Region Incorporation date
(per km²)3
Reason for incorporation
Crowsnest Pass, Municipality of Southern Alberta January 16, 2008 7   5,565 5,749 −3.2 373.07 14.9 Although no specific reason was provided in the order in council that changed its status,6 to enable membership in the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties for increased alignment with its neighbouring rural municipalities.7
Jasper, Municipality of Alberta's Rockies July 20, 2001 7 4,584N 1
4,4328 4,265 3.9 925.52 4.8 To provide for the unique needs of residents living within the municipality.9
Mackenzie County Northern Alberta June 23, 1999 10   10,927 10,002 9.2 80,478.12 0.1 To address concerns about municipal government and management in a municipality that serves a number of unique communities within a very large territory.10
Strathcona County Edmonton Capital Region January 1, 1996 9   92,490 82,511 12.1 1,180.56 78.3 To provide for the unique needs of a municipality that includes both a large urban centre and a significant rural territory and population.11
Wood Buffalo, Regional Municipality of Northern Alberta April 1, 1995 11 74,856N 2
65,565 51,92412 26.3 63,637.47 1.0 To provide for the unique needs of a municipality including a large urban centre and a large rural territory with a small population.13
Total specialized
44 178,979 154,451 15.9 146,594.74 1.2

See also


  1. ^ Jasper's 2011 municipal census also counted a shadow (non-permanent resident) population of 652 for a combined population of 5,236.
  2. ^ Wood Buffalo's 2012 municipal census also counted a shadow population of 41,551 for a combined population of 116,407.


  1. ^ a b "Types of Municipalities". Alberta Municipal Affairs. Retrieved 2010-03-27. 
  2. ^ a b c "Municipal Government Act". Alberta Queen's Printer. Retrieved 2010-03-27. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and census subdivisions (municipalities), 2011 and 2006 censuses (Alberta)". Statistics Canada. 2012-02-08. Retrieved 2012-02-09. 
  4. ^ a b c "Municipal Profiles (Specialized Municipalities)". Alberta Municipal Affairs. 2013-12-27. Retrieved 2013-12-30. 
  5. ^ "2013 Municipal Affairs Population List" (PDF). Alberta Municipal Affairs. November 20, 2013. p. 1. ISBN 978-1-4601-1418-6. Retrieved December 28, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Order in Council (O.C.) 1/2008". Province of Alberta. 2008-01-16. Retrieved 2010-03-28. 
  7. ^ "Municipality of Crowsnest Pass: Report on the Corporate Review". George B. Cuff & Associates Ltd. October 2009. Retrieved May 30, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Corrections and updates". Statistics Canada. September 11, 2013. Retrieved October 29, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Order in Council (O.C.) 279/2001". Province of Alberta. 2001-07-24. Retrieved 2010-03-28. 
  10. ^ "Order in Council (O.C.) 264/99". Province of Alberta. 1999-06-23. Retrieved 2010-03-28. 
  11. ^ "Order in Council (O.C.) 761/95". Province of Alberta. 1995-12-06. Retrieved 2010-03-28. 
  12. ^ "2006 Census corrections and updates". Statistics Canada. June 23, 2009. Retrieved June 1, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Order in Council (O.C.) 817/94". Province of Alberta. 1994-12-21. Retrieved 2010-03-28. 

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