A bylaw is a law made by a local authority in accordance with the powers conferred by or delegated to it under a statute, in this case the MGA. Council may pass a bylaw to govern the affairs within the council (the procedural bylaw and code of conduct for councillors) and bylaws that govern within the municipality. Common bylaws include vehicle parking and stopping regulations, animal control, licensing, noise, business regulation, and management of public recreation areas.
A municipal by-law is no different than any other law of the land, and can be enforced with penalties, challenged in court and must comply with higher levels of law. Municipal bylaws are often enforceable through the public justice system, and offenders can be charged with a criminal offence for breach of a bylaw.
Section 7 of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) sets out the general jurisdiction to pass bylaws. This general jurisdiction gives broad authority to municipalities to develop bylaws unique to each municipality. Councils are expected to act in good faith and in the public interest when creating laws. Municipal administration, who usually drafts bylaws, is expected to act in good faith when carrying out the responsibility. Creating a bylaw that meets general statutory and fundamental principle standards is only part of the process. A good bylaw needs to be drafted for certainty, predictability, democratic transparency and accountability. Municipal administration should aim to create bylaws that are understandable, enforceable and accomplish the council’s desired goal.