Municipal restructure is a term used to describe a boundary or governance change
that has a significant impact on a municipality,
a regional district, and citizens. The province
has a program that assists municipalities with a restructure proposal through
financial assistance and by other means. One of the purposes for the financial
assistance is to pay for a study to be undertaken by a consultant to review the
implications for the restructure.
The most common type of restructure is where a municipality wants to extend
its boundary to an electoral area that is adjacent to its boundary and the area
has political representation from a regional district and/or an
improvement district and may also receive
services from those local governments and other agencies.
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.
Another type of restructure is the amalgamation of two or more municipalities
into one municipality. Amalgamation is a rarer form of restructuring in the
province. The most recent amalgamation was the merger of the District of Abbotsford
and the District of Matsqui, resulting in the incorporation of the City of Abbotsford
in 1995. The province has enacted legislation in the Community Charter,
which prohibits the amalgamation of municipalities unless both of them agree to it.
In the case where the restructure is a municipal boundary extension, there are
a number of changes that need to be considered. For example, in most cases
electoral areas are represented on the regional board by a single director. Improvement
districts generally have three to five trustees. If an area is brought within a
municipal boundary, it will receive greater representation through an elected
mayor and council, it will reduce the number of agencies with authority to make
decisions for the area and it could enable more comprehensive land use planning.
In addition, municipalities have more financial flexibility and a wider range of
tools to meet local economic, social and environmental needs than regional
district or improvement districts.
A restructure study that identifies the implications for a municipal restructure
can be initiated by the residents of an area outside a municipal boundary, or it
can be initiated by the municipality itself. However, there must be agreement by
both the municipality and the area outside its boundary to study the impacts of a
restructure before a restructure study process can proceed.
Municipal restructure is guided by the following principles:
The Local Government Structure Branch has a facilitative role in the restructure process by:
There are three components to provincial financial assistance:
Further information about restructure can be found in
Managing Changes to Local Government Structure
in British Columbia: A Review and Program Guide.
Further information about municipal boundary extension can be found in the: