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Organization of Governance


Local governments are represented by elected officials who exercise the powers and perform the obligations of the local government. In a municipality, the governing body is the mayor and council. However, there are other governing bodies depending on the organization and nature of the local government or local authority.

Regional districts are governed by a board of directors that is composed of directors who are elected from an electoral area, and directors who are appointed by, and from, member municipal councils. The number of directors appointed from member municipal councils depends on the population of the municipality. The chair of the regional district is elected by, and from, all of the directors on the regional board.

The size of municipal councils generally increases with its population. In addition to the mayor, there are 4, 6, 8 or 10 councillors. Council can reduce or increase the size of council but a reduction requires the approval of electors.

Unique to the City of Vancouver is the fact that its Parks Board is also directly elected. In some regional districts, some communities in unorganized (electoral) areas of the regional district are administered by directly elected local community commissions established by the regional district.

Special purpose local authorities take a variety of forms. Of the service-providers that pre-date the regional district system, improvement districts are governed by a directly elected board of trustees, and greater boards (i.e. the Greater Vancouver Water District and the Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage) are governed by a board of directors appointed by and from member local governments. Mountain resort associations function as societies for the purpose of encouraging development of resort areas, and are comprised of the owners of land in the area. Public libraries are governed by boards, the organization and membership of which depends on how the public library service is being delivered (i.e. by a municipal library, a regional library district, a public library association or an integrated library system). In all cases, there are close links between the library board and the local government for the area in which the library service is being provided.

Two local authorities have a dual provincial and local character. For the University Endowment Lands, the Minister exercises powers similar to that of a municipal council to govern the area surrounding the University of British Columbia. For the Gulf Islands area, the Islands Trust has 2 governing components: the Trust Council, comprising all trustees for the trust area, both those directly elected and those appointed by and from area municipalities; and various local trust committees, comprising the trustees that represent the local trust areas (i.e. non-municipal islands) in the trust area.

As treaty and other agreements are negotiated among the Federal and provincial governments and First Nations, various governing bodies may be created. Their nature and organization will vary, depending on the terms of the treaty, agreement or legislation under which they are created (e.g. Sechelt Indian Government District Enabling Act; Nisga’a Final Agreement; Westbank First Nation Self Government Agreement). In many cases, their link to existing local governments and other local authorities is also covered.


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