There are many areas of the province where people have settled into
communities. Often the residents want services that will make the community more attractive to live in such as a water
distribution system, fire protection, recreation facilities and control over
land use development. Where there is local support, some of these communities
have been incorporated by the province as municipalities which means that they
have a corporate public body authorized to represent the community which makes
decisions through an elected mayor and council.
A community is incorporated by the province as a municipality when Cabinet
approves a legal document called Letters Patent. The Letters Patent establish
the municipality's name and boundary, provide for the first election of the mayor and
council, and contain a number of transitional issues.
It is not necessary for a municipality to incorporate just because the
residents want local services. In the absence of a municipality, services can
by provided by regional districts and
improvement districts. In addition,
communities on the Gulf Islands are provided local planning services by the
Islands Trust. All
rural residents in an electoral area are generally represented by one regional
district director. Communities located in the Islands Trust area
are represented by two local trustees. Improvement districts have an elected
board of trustees.
If a community incorporates, the municipality becomes a member of the
regional district and is represented on the regional board by one or more
members appointed by and from that municipality's council.
Municipalities are divided into four classifications: village; town; district;
and city. The distinction is based upon population and area but regardless of
the classification, every municipality generally has the same powers and
Communities can also be incorporated into the following types of municipalities:
These municipalities have the powers and responsibilities of other
municipalities but with slight variations.
Municipal incorporation is guided by the following principles:
The Local Government Structure Branch has a facilitative role in the incorporation process by:
There are three components to provincial financial assistance: