The Province, through Alberta Municipal Affairs, is responsible for all functions of local government in the improvement districts, including the levy and collection of taxes. The residents of an improvement district (I.D.) elect representatives, who are subsequently appointed by the Minister, to an advisory council which assists in the administration of each district.
Five of the eight I.D.s are located in national parks: I.D. No. 4 (Waterton), I.D. No. 9 (Banff), I.D. No. 12 (Jasper), I.D. No. 13 (Elk Island) and I.D. No. 24 (Wood Buffalo). Two are provincial parks: Kananaskis Improvement District (including Kananaskis Provincial Park) and the I.D. No. 25 (Willmore Wilderness). The provincial and federal governments have primary governing responsibility in these areas except for school affairs.
There are a total of 10 people elected/appointed to the advisory councils of two of the eight I.D.s. The council, consisting of five members each, guides the activities of the improvement district manager and staff. The formal power rests with the Minister of Municipal Affairs, but most power and responsibility has been delegated to the councils.