Municipal Boundary Extensions
The boundary of every municipality is defined in the document that incorporated
the municipality known as Letters Patent. The boundary is permanent but it can be
changed on occasion by amending the description to add or delete properties. Since
Letters Patent are brought into effect by Cabinet order, the boundary description
can only be changed by Cabinet order.
The reasons for changing municipal boundaries are many and are often
initiated by property owners who want their parcel of land to be
included within a municipality. Typically the property owners want
to receive services that are operated and administered by the
municipality such as water, sewer, fire protection and garbage
collection. In some cases, the property owner may feel that the
municipality has land use policies that are more suitable for the
area than the ones put in place by the regional district.
The province has a guiding principle that communities can choose how they are
governed. Therefore, the majority of citizens living within an area proposed for
inclusion within a municipal boundary must consent to (or not oppose) the proposed
extension. In addition, The Local Government Act (section 20)
requires that citizens of the municipality will have the opportunity to object to
the proposal. If at least 10% of the electors within the municipality request a vote on the
proposed boundary extension, then the municipality cannot proceed unless it obtains
the support of those electors in a referendum.
Unless the area to be added to a municipality is being removed from lands that
are located in an adjoining municipality, the area is located within an electoral
area of the regional district. Although not prescribed in legislation,
the regional district has an important role in the boundary extension process. The
regional district is the local government for areas outside municipal boundaries
and they may provide services in the area. Consequently, regional district
interests must be considered and municipalities should make their best efforts
to accommodate those interests. However, the regional district does not have a
veto on municipal boundary extensions.
Municipalities planning to request a boundary extension take the lead
in consulting with citizens, the regional district
and others whose interests might be affected by a boundary extension. This
information is then submitted to the ministry so that the application can be
assessed against the Municipal Boundary Extension Criteria.
If the application meets the requirements of the Criteria, an amendment to the Letters Patent is
drafted and the proposal is forwarded to the minister and to Cabinet for a decision.
The Criteria define the technical and process requirements for a boundary extension to proceed. Generally, a proposal must meet the following basic technical requirements:
A boundary extension is different from a municipal restructure
project because a relatively small number of properties or
residents are affected and it will not have a significant impact on the
regional district or the municipality.