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Local Government Act
Bulletin No.: G.7.0.0Date: October 2000
Replaces Bulletin: I.1.3.0 

Implications of Improvement District Subdivision Servicing Requirements for Local Governments


This bulletin is essentially a duplication of a bulletin that was released in July, 2000 (Bulletin Number: I.3.0.0) on the authority of Improvement Districts to establish subdivision servicing requirements. It is released in this series with some modifications to draw the attention to local governments the changes that have been made to the improvement district legislation.


The Local Government Act has been changed to include provisions that more clearly set out the powers of an improvement district to establish servicing standards and require that they be followed by an owner who subdivides or develops their land. Improvement districts have the ability to enter into an agreement with the local land use jurisdiction, so that a building permit can be refused if the improvement district's servicing standards have not been met. As well, an approving officer, appointed under the Land Title Act must ensure that the improvement district's standards have been met. The addition of this power responds to basic Municipal Act Reform principles because it establishes an opportunity for consultation and collaboration on inter-local government issues.


New Provisions:

  • Section 747.1 sets out the ability of a board of trustees to establish servicing standards by bylaw for services within their objects. For example, standards can be established for a water distribution system, a sewage collection or disposal system, a drainage collection or disposal system, or a fire hydrant system, if the improvement district has that power. These standards outline such things as the type of materials to be used, design parameters and installation requirements.
  • The servicing standards can be varied for different areas, for different uses of land, for different zones, or for different circumstances.
  • Once the servicing standards are established by bylaw, an improvement district can require an owner of land to meet the servicing standards on land they are subdividing or developing and on that portion of a highway immediately adjacent to the site being developed or subdivided. There are, however, some limitations with respect to this authority, as noted below.
  • The primary enforcement mechanisms for these requirements are:
    • For land that is being subdivided, a municipal, regional district or provincial subdivision approving officer appointed under the Land Title Act must not approve a subdivision if services do not meet the standards established in an improvement district bylaw.
    • For land that is being developed, if the improvement district has entered into an agreement with a local government for this purpose, the local government may refuse to issue a building permit unless the owner has provided services to the standard required in the improvement district bylaw.
  • The following are limitations on the ability for an improvement district to require an owner subdividing or developing their property to meet the improvement district's servicing standards:
    • The ability to set servicing standards only relates to works and services that are within the objects of the improvement district as described in its Letters Patent. In other words, an improvement district that has water as its only object, cannot set servicing standards for sewers, or for any services other than water.
    • Requirements may only be made under these provisions if they are directly attributable to the subdivision or development. Therefore, if an owner, in accordance with the improvement district's bylaw, provides water, sewage or drainage facilities that serve land other than the land being developed or subdivided, then the portion of the facility that serves other properties is considered an excess or extended service, and the provisions of section 747.2 automatically apply. This means that if the owner is required to provide these excess or extended service, they are entitled to compensation from properties which connect to, or use, the services if that connection or use begins during the next 10 years.
    • An owner cannot be required to provide services which are included in a capital expenditure charge (CEC) calculation. However, if the owner agrees to provide these, any cost related to those services that are included in the calculation of a CEC must be deducted from the amount that would otherwise have been collected for a CEC from the owner for that class of service.
    • Improvement district subdivision servicing standards cannot be imposed for a subdivision under the Strata Property Act.


Related Provisions:

  • Section 746 (1) (k) allows an improvement district, by bylaw, to regulate and require the provision of works and services in respect of the subdivision of land.
  • Section 747.2 outlines the powers of improvement districts in regard to requiring works that will serve land other than the development or subdivision.

Practical considerations:

  • Improvement districts in which development is occurring will likely want to establish servicing standards - if so, they must do this by bylaw. Once the bylaw has been adopted, the improvement district needs to provide a copy of the bylaw to the provincial, regional district or municipal subdivision approving officer, and must provide updated copies of the bylaw if amendments are made to it. In addition, if an agreement has been made in which a local government agrees to withhold building permits if the improvement district's servicing standards have not been met then the improvement district will also need to provide copies of these bylaws to that local government.
  • Regional districts, municipalities and improvement districts have concurrent authority to establish subdivision servicing standards. In unincorporated areas, the Subdivision Servicing Regulations under the Local Services Act may also have application. It is important that consultation take place between all authorities in developing their subdivision servicing bylaws to ensure that the interests of each are met. For example, an improvement district may be responsible for providing water and the regional district responsible for fire protection. Both parties will want to ensure that pipes are sized to provide both potable water and adequate fire flows.
  • The objective of these discussions should be to achieve a common standard in the bylaws of both the improvement district and the regional district or municipality. This reduces confusion for the applicant for subdivision and the approving officer.


Transitional provisions:


Local Government Act References:

Primary Sections: Sections 746 (1) (k) and 747.1
Bill 14 Sections: Sections 747.2; Section 933(8)(a); 746(1)(f)

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