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. (February 2011)
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 (including in urban areas, where counties do not), 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.
Alberta does not have an official municipal status type of regional municipality. However, that has not prevented one municipality from branding itself as one. Wood Buffalo, formed as a specialized municipality on April 1, 1995, through the amalgamation of the City of Fort McMurray and Improvement District No. 143, changed its official name from Municipality of Wood Buffalo to Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo on August 14, 1996, while maintaining its specialized municipality status.