Alternative dispute resolution that emphasizes interest-based
negotiation strives to achieve solutions that are acceptable for
everyone involved in a dispute. Widely used in a variety of fields,
alternative dispute resolution encourages open communication and
helps foster understanding between the parties and better long-term
relationships. BC was one of the first provinces in Canada to put
alternative dispute resolution provisions in legislation, which is
aimed at helping to resolve disputes between government
jurisdictions. This process is available to local governments
through the regional growth strategy and
regional district service review provisions of the Local Government Act and through the
provisions of the Community Charter.
Conflicts can arise for a variety of reasons, including: unequal
impacts, benefits or costs; different expectations, assumptions or
forecasts; different definitions of the issue; different values;
fragile relationships; different standards of behaviour; and
decisions/actions on unrelated issues.
Conflicts can arise on a variety of issues, including:
Alternative dispute resolution that aims to resolve disputes
collaboratively helps parties to: identify their interests; explore
options for resolution; develop and implement solutions acceptable
to all; and obtain the services of a neutral mediator, if needed.
Solving disputes as early as possible will also help parties avoid
stressful and costly arbitration or court action.
To utilize one of the alternative dispute
resolution processes in the legislation one or more of the parties
to a dispute may request process advice and assistance from the
Ministry of Community Services. Please note that ministry
assistance is not available for legal or labour disputes.
In addition, under the Local Government Act and
certain disputes between or among local governments, must be settled
using one of the binding arbitration methods, if non-binding methods
fail to resolve the dispute.
Disputes subject to mandatory binding arbitration as a last resort
include those that relate to: acceptance of a
regional growth strategy; regional district service withdrawal; an inter-municipal boundary highway; an
inter-municipal transecting highway; an inter-municipal bridge; an inter-municipal watercourse; and a matter
prescribed in an order by Cabinet.
Any party to an inter-governmental dispute may
apply for process
assistance to the ministry. A dispute resolution officer or
facilitator may then help the parties resolve the matter by any
process the officer or facilitator considers appropriate, including
by referring the matter to mediation and other non-binding
resolution processes. For those disputes not subject to mandatory
arbitration under either the Local Government Act or the Community
Charter, if the parties agree, the officer must direct the dispute
to binding arbitration through a process of final proposal
arbitration, or full arbitration.
Further information and best practices regarding the resolution of Regional Growth Strategy or regional district service disputes is available in the following Ministry publications:
For further information please contact: