Regional municipality

Regional municipality

A Regional Municipality (or Region) is a type of Canadian municipal government similar to and at the same municipal government level as a county, although the specific structure and servicing responsibilities may vary from place to place. Regional municipalities were formed in highly populated areas where it was considered more efficient to provide certain services, such as water, emergency services, and waste management over an area encompassing more than one local municipality. For this reason, regions may be involved in providing services to residents and businesses.

Regional municipalities, where they include smaller municipalities within their boundaries, are sometimes referred to as "Upper-tier" municipalities. Regional municipalities generally have more servicing responsibilities than counties. Typical services include maintenance and construction of arterial roads, transit, policing, sewer and water systems, waste disposal, region-wide land use planning and development and health and social services.

Regions are typically more urbanized than counties. Regional municipalities are usually implemented in census divisions where an interconnected cluster of urban centres forms the majority of the division's area and population.


In Alberta, Wood Buffalo, Strathcona County, and Crowsnest Pass are specialized regional municipalites. This means they have one unified municipal government that controls all urban and rural areas within their boundaries.

Nova Scotia

In Nova Scotia, regional municipalities are a single level of government, and provide all municipal services to their communities. As they include both urban and rural areas, they are not called cities, towns or villages nor do they refer as a place on a map or for services such as the mail. (See Halifax Regional Municipality, Cape Breton Regional Municipality, Region of Queens Municipality). Such municipalities in Nova Scotia take over the area and name of a county. Counties still exist as a geographic division but only contain a single municipality.


In Ontario, regional municipalities were created to provide common services to urban and rural municipalities in the way that counties typically provide common services to rural municipalities. The specific relationship of a regional government and the cities, towns, townships and villages within its borders is determined by provincial legislation; typically the regional municipality provides many core services such as police protection, waste management and (in some RM's) public transit. Similar to counties, they also provide infrastructure for main roads, sewers, and bridges and also handle social services. Organization of regional government has occasionally been controversial where council membership is determined by the constituent municipalities rather than elected directly.

The Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton was created in 1969, following a precedent for two-tier municipal government established in Ontario in 1954 by the creation of the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto. The regional municipal structure was greatly expanded between 1970 and 1974 under the government of Bill Davis.

In 1998, the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto became the amalgamated City of Toronto. In 2001, three other regional municipalities — Ottawa-Carleton, Hamilton-Wentworth and Sudbury — were similarly amalgamated into single-tier cities, while the Regional Municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk was split into Haldimand County and Norfolk County. See the list of Ontario regional municipalities.


In Quebec, "regional county municipalities" or "RCMs" (French, "municipalités régionales de comté, MRC") have constituted the 'county' level of government for the entire province since the early 1990s.

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