A selection of County of Grande Prairie Bylaws, and all County Policies, have been added to online libraries, allowing them to be easily accessible for reference.

Bylaws and Policies are adopted by resolutions of Council, which can be found in Council minutes.

 

What is a Bylaw?

The “by” in bylaw is an old Norse word that means “town.” A bylaw is simply a town, or local, law.

Canadian municipalities don't have constitutional status of their own, so they can only pass laws authorized by other levels of government. Statutes like the Municipal Government Act and the Traffic Safety Act delegate authority for local bylaws. The “whereas” clause you see at the beginning of bylaws usually explains where the authority for the bylaw is coming from.

Some bylaws are mandatory. For example, every municipality in Alberta must pass a Land Use Bylaw. Some bylaws are required only if a municipality wants to carry out a certain type of activity. A town doesn't have to require business licensing, for example, but if they do, they need a bylaw. Bylaws can also customize provincial statutes to allow for local enforcement or reduced fines in areas like traffic safety.

What is a policy?

Policies are documents that guide how the County operates and provides services, and where necessary, establish how the functions are performed, and services delivered.

What is a Bylaw Reading?

You might notice in the paper that a bylaw has received “first reading,” or that it passed “third reading.” All bylaws must pass three readings before they can become law. This means that Council has three separate chances to consider the pros and cons, and to vote, on a bylaw. This regulation ensures that every bylaw is carefully considered before it is passed.

First reading is a test of whether Council wishes to consider an issue at all. It is not usually an indication of whether Council supports the bylaw. Second reading is when council can debate the issue, make amendments, and vote again. This time, council is voting on whether they support the bylaw. Third reading is the last chance for debate, amendments and voting.

If a bylaw fails any of the readings, it dies.

Can I provide input into Bylaws?

Lots of things can happen in between bylaw readings. In some cases, like Land Use Bylaws, municipalities are required to hold a public hearing after first reading has passed, but before second reading is considered. After the public hearing, council will call for second reading, which is when they can debate the bylaw, propose changes, and ultimately vote on whether it should pass.

Sometimes council will decide to hold a public hearing, or gather public input in other ways, even when it is not required by legislation. Council also sometimes asks municipal staff to provide more information before a final decision is made. This usually happens after second reading, when Council has had a chance to debate the issue and determine if they need more input before continuing.

Learn more about our approach and official strategy for public participation.

How can I find out about bylaws being considered?

Bylaws under consideration can be found in the council agenda packages which are posted to the Council Meeting Agendas, Minutes & Highlights page. For more information about bylaws, contact Legislative Services at 780-532-9722 or by email at legislativeservices@countygp.ab.ca.