Planning in the local government context deals with
cultural and heritage resources, environment,
economic development, finance, transportation
The planning process itself involves problem-solving,
visioning and working through a variety of technical, policy and
legislative issues using acceptable procedures. Planning involves a wide range of
stakeholders to ensure that decisions meet the economic, environmental and social
objectives of communities.
At the global level, some issues that cross national, provincial or international borders
can have impacts that need to be addressed locally. Taking a coordinated approach to
issues such as climate change, the effects of increasing density and urbanization, or
environmentally sustainable infrastructure, can lead to more sustainable local solutions.
Planning at the provincial level is important because provincial objectives, program and
initiatives have implications for local governments and communities.
Coordination among the various provincial agencies, the Union of British
Columbia Municipalities, local
governments, communities and the private sector is key to developing partnerships
will protect provincial interests.
Provincial initiatives include:
In British Columbia there are 188 local governments, consisting of 161 municipalities
(villages, districts, towns and cities), 27 regional districts and the Island's Trust.
Each local government is responsible for their own planning initiatives, tailored to
reflect their community's unique needs and aspirations, and for amending and updating
their official community plans and
Locally elected politicians on municipal councils or regional district boards are responsible for making planning and land use decisions. They have a range of planning tools available to assist them with this responsibility. For example:
One of the most important and often controversial responsibilities
of local governments is the development and management of land. Within
the context of the social, economic and environmental goals of their
communities, local governments have the ability to
control land use and its
This means local governments can determine the plan designations
for an area, the density of a neighbourhood and the size and dimensions
of a lot. They prescribe the nature and level of servicing, as well as
the protection of hazardous and sensitive environmental areas. They can
determine what type, height and size of buildings will be permitted and
they approve building and occupancy permits.
When local governments are considering changes to land use, they are generally required
to hold a public hearing in order for the elected
officials to hear submissions from persons who believe that their interest in property is
by the change. Another way for local governments to receive input is by creating an
advisory planning commission which is an
independent body composed of local residents that makes recommendations to elected officials
about the proposed land use matters that are referred to it.
The role of the Local Government Department is to support the system of local
government through areas such as infrastructure, finance, policy development,
governance and planning. The Department also furthers relations between local
governments in British Columbia and provides advice, assistance and support for
international, national, provincial, and regional and community planning. It
dispute resolution when communities have disagreements.