Improvement districts are local authorities responsible for providing services for the benefit of the residents in a community.
Improvement districts vary considerably in size, from small subdivisions to larger communities, and are usually located in rural areas of British Columbia.
Improvement districts are empowered to provide local services such as water, fire protection, street lighting, dyking, drainage, garbage collection and parks, rather than general governance or land use planning that municipalities and regional districts provide to residents.
Typically an improvement district provides one or two services.
These services are generally financed by taxation or user fees.
Every improvement district is governed by a board of elected trustees (elected by area property owners) one of whom acts as the board chair.
The powers exercised by the trustees (to enact and enforce its regulations and charges, to assess and collect taxes, to acquire, hold and dispose of lands, to borrow money and to expropriate lands)
flow from the improvement district's bylaws, the Local Government Act and other
applicable provincial statutes.
Information on these topics can be found in the Improvement District Manual.
Most improvement districts are located within the boundary of a regional district, yet the improvement district and regional district are independent of each other.
Improvement districts can also be located inside municipalities.
Overlaps in jurisdiction can and do occur, therefore co-ordination between the two bodies is essential.
Regional districts can apply on behalf of improvement districts for infrastructure planning and capital grants from the Local Government Division.
The Local Government Division actively works with improvement district boards of trustees and staff to provide information and develop advisory materials, such as the Improvement
District Manual, the Improvement District Conversion Guide (PDF, 235KB) and Improvement District Governance Policy (PDF, 125KB)
and the Improvement District Trustee's Handbook (PDF, 650KB).
The Division also reviews improvement district bylaws, annual general meeting minutes, financial statements, and facilitates changes to improvement district boundaries.
Over the years, many improvement districts have either incorporated, as municipalities, or have transferred the services they provide to municipalities or regional districts.
Division staff have created the Improvement District Conversion Guide (PDF, 235KB) to assist those improvement districts interested in transferring their services to a municipality
or regional district.