In Alberta, municipal bylaws must be given three readings before they can be enacted. Typically first reading is to introduce the bylaw, second is to consider any amendments, and third the final reading enacts the bylaw.

There have been occasions where a bylaw has been introduced, but the Council takes immediate issue with it and refuse to give it first reading. But if first reading is supposed to introduce the bylaw, how can the Council know they don't want to pass it without acknowledging they've at least read it?

If a new bylaw is introduced, are Council required to give it first reading so they can later discuss and debate it, or at least show in the minutes that they properly examined it?

2 Answers 2


There is no regulation about whether a proposed bylaw get a first reading or not except that petitions for a bylaw must get first reading.

Petitions for Vote of the Electors - New Bylaws Petition for bylaw

232(1) Electors may petition for (a) a new bylaw, or (b) a bylaw to amend or repeal a bylaw or resolution

on any matter within the jurisdiction of the council under this or >another enactment.

(2)A petition requesting a new bylaw under Part 8, 9, 10, 17 or 17.2 or >an amendment or repeal of a bylaw or resolution made under Part 8, 9, 10, >17 or 17.2 has no effect. RSA 2000 cM-26 s232;2016 c24 s1

The requirement is here, in section 233

(3) Within 30 days after the day on which the chief administrative >officer declares a petition submitted under section 232 to be sufficient, >the council must give first reading to a bylaw dealing with the subject->matter of the petition and any other related matters the council >considers necessary.

http://municipalaffairs.alberta.ca/documents/Basic%20Principles%20of%20Bylaws.pdf http://www.qp.alberta.ca/documents/Acts/m26.pdf

There are regulations on things such as forbid all three readings in one council meeting unless all councilors agree, that a first reading can't take place unless all councilors have been given a chance to read the proposed bylaw (that's in sub-section 187(2)), and a proposed bylaw goes stale if 2 years passes after first reading and before third reading.

Because of 187(2), every councilor has actually had a chance to read the proposed bylaw before the first reading. As a consequence they know the contents of the bylaw.


I am not sure about the rules in Alberta, but in the US state of NJ, which has a similar procedure, the "first reading" is not when the members of a municipal council first read the proposed ordinance. That actually occurs several days before the meeting, when a draft is circulated to members in advance. At the meeting, there is a motion to introduce the ordinance. This will lead to debate, which may be lengthy or very short. ("Anything to say? Hearing nothing...") At the end of the debate, there will be a vote to introduce. This is the "First Reading." If this passes, the proposed local law will be brought back later for further discussion and possible final passage. If it does not pass, the proposal is dead and goes no further unless it is later re-introduced.

I was at one time rather active in local NJ politics, and was present at many township council meetings where this procedure was followed. From time to time the Township Attorney described the legal effect of the various steps in detail, particularly when some members were new to the council.

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