As community growth occurs, residents may find that these local governments can no
longer provide the level of local representation or services necessary to meet local
community needs. When these communities are located near
municipalities, the municipalities may
also experience complex servicing, land use or development issues as a result of
the growth in the outlying rural areas. Municipal restructure becomes an option for
Municipal restructure can provide improved service coordination to a
large area, more comprehensive land use planning,
and more services and better representation to previously rural communities. Under the
the Province recognizes municipalities as an order of government within their jurisdiction.
As such, municipalities have a great deal of flexibility in
determining how best to meet local economic, social and
environmental needs and how best to provide local services. Under
the regional district system, all rural residents in an
electoral area are generally represented by one regional district director.
Citizens in a municipality are represented by a council of 5 to 9
members. Municipal residents continue to be represented in the
regional district system.
The desire for improved local representation and improved local
service provision, and a strong overarching community vision
motivate local communities towards municipal restructure.
Municipal restructure may be initially identified as an option by
individuals or groups in the outlying communities or by the
municipality. However, there must be agreement by the municipality
to study the impacts of a restructure before a restructure study
process can proceed. Municipal restructure may be implemented by a
major boundary extension, or as a transformation of an existing
municipality into a new municipal corporation. This could include a
change in municipal classification or status. For example, a village
may become a district municipality.
Municipal restructure also includes the amalgamation of two or more
municipalities into one municipality. Amalgamation is a rare form of
restructuring in British Columbia. The most recent amalgamation was
the merger of Abbotsford and Matsqui into the
City of Abbotsford in
1995. Under the Community Charter (section 279), the forced
amalgamation of municipalities is prohibited.
Municipal restructure is guided by the following principles:
The Local Government Structure Branch holds a facilitative role throughout this process. Staff provide advice on structure change to local governments, communities, and individuals. Staff facilitate the decision-making process and discussions between various stakeholders to the process. The Branch administers provincial financial assistance, which is available under the Local Government Grants Regulation to local communities undergoing change in local government structure. There are three components to this assistance:
The Branch also prepares Letters Patent for the consideration of Cabinet.
Municipal restructure is one form of structure change that enables
citizens to get the local government and local services they want