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Governance &
Structure Division

Local Government Elections


Local government elections in British Columbia are held every three years. This includes elections for mayors, councillors, regional district electoral area directors, and trustees for the Islands Trust.

The next local government elections will be held in the fall of 2014. Under current rules, local government elections are held on the third Saturday in November. However, that date would change to the third Saturday in October if the current rules are amended in accordance with the recommendations of the Local Government Election Task Force. The election for school board trustees will also held at the same time.


While provincial elections are administered by Elections BC, local government elections are managed by chief election officers that are appointed independently by each local government.

In most provinces, the eligibility for voting in local government elections is limited to residents only. In British Columbia, residents can vote, as can persons that own property in a local government jurisdiction, even if they do not reside there. Further information about eligibility can be found in the Voter's Guide to Local Elections in British Columbia (483 KB). See the Guide to Supporting a Candidate for Local Elections in B.C. (736 KB) for additional information about supporting candidates.

Elections are the most visible way for the public to directly influence their local government. During the election process, the candidates generally outline their platforms and objectives if they were to be elected. By choosing the candidates with the ideals and qualities that are most acceptable to the electors, they can directly influence the type of community where they reside or own property.

The majority of ballots cast by the electors determine who will be the successful candidate. For municipalities, the voters choose from a list of candidates to fill the councillor positions. The electors vote from a separate list of candidates to fill the position of mayor. In regional districts, a candidate is elected from each of its electoral areas to the regional board. However, the chair is elected by and from the directors on the regional board.

In instances where there are only as many candidates as there are positions available in the local government, no election is necessary as the candidates are automatically declared elected by acclamation.

There are very strict rules regarding the conduct of local government elections to ensure that they are fair, open and honest. These procedures are established in Part 3 of the Local Government Act. This legislation also includes provisions related to election offences and penalties.

Candidates seeking office in local government elections must complete a Statement of Disclosure (193 KB) which is required under the Financial Disclosure Act. For more information, a Fact Sheet (40 KB) is available. Following the election, candidates must ensure that full disclosures are made about the individuals or organizations that financed their election campaign. Failure to file campaign financing disclosure forms within the time allotted may result in disqualification from being a candidate until after the next local government election. The Inspector of Municipalities maintains  Inspector's List of Disqualified Candidates. Further information for candidates can be found in the Candidate's Guide to Local Elections in B.C. (1.26 MB).

For those considering engaging in campaign activities in relation to a local government election, the Campaign Organizer & Elector Organization Guide to Local Elections in B.C. (1.05 MB) provides an overview of the election process in British Columbia and a summary of the steps needed to run a campaign in a local election supporting or opposing a candidate or an elector organization. This includes campaigns related to elections for a municipal council, a regional district board, a local community commission or a local trust committee of the Islands Trust Council. Candidates, campaign organizers and elector organizations are subject to specific rules regarding the disclosure of campaign financing details. Further information about completing a campaign financing disclosure statement can be found in the Campaign Financing Standard Forms Booklet (1.2 MB)  for Local elections in B.C.

The Local Government Department is involved with local government elections in three main ways:

  1. The Inspector's List of Disqualified Candidates is maintained by the Department.
  2. Applications from candidates who want to withdraw from an election within 28 days of the election date are reviewed by the Department and forwarded to the minister to decide whether to allow the withdrawal.
  3. The Department develops informational materials and responds to requests for information about the local government election process.

Much of this information is available as General Election Frequently Asked Questions & Answers. In addition, a Local Government Elections Calendar: Significant Dates 2011 - 2012 for the election is available. For a complete list of available election resources visit


The School Trustees Election Procedures in British Columbia Guide (250 KB) provides information and assistance to school board, election officials and candidates in relation to the November General School Election.

Please contact the advisory officer responsible for your area if you have questions or comments.

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