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A Bibliography on Local Government in
British Columbia - Continued

 


Regional Districts / Metropolitan Government


The reader who asks, "But what exactly Is a regional district?" has inadvertently stumbled across one of the main themes in the literature: few people -- outside of those immediately concerned -- have a clear idea what exactly regional districts do and how they operate. One possible political consequence of this is that regional districts have never been wildly popular with the general public.
 

After World War Two rapid urbanization occurred in Canada, and with it came a need for neighbouring cities to co-ordinate their policies and sometimes to join together to finance large projects. The idea of metropolitan government was one response to the problem of lack of co-ordination and co-operation. Individual cities would retain some of their functions, but other functions would be transferred to a new, broader level of government made up of representatives of member municipalities, either directly elected by the general public or appointed by the municipalities involved. Metropolitan Toronto was the first example of this in North America, and there is a substantial body of literature about it. In this province regional planning boards in the Lower Mainland, Greater Victoria and elsewhere were part of this trend towards co-ordination in the 1950s. The regional planning boards were not entirely successful and in 1965 began to be replaced by the newly created system of regional districts. Regional districts were, however, not just a response to urban problems in Greater Vancouver and Victoria. They were also a way of bringing local government to unorganized areas of the province, and to provide better services for small towns and rural areas. It should be noted that B.C. was unusual at the time in not having a well-developed rural governance structure. Thus, the regional district emerged as a hybrid form of government, one capable of delivering upper-tier services in urbanized areas and lower-tier services to the province's scattered rural settlements.
 

One theme in the literature is that the regional district idea was less controversial and met with less opposition in B.C. than regional government schemes have elsewhere in Canada. One reason for this was "the strategy of gentle imposition." Another reason is that regional districts have fewer powers, especially in connection with the management of development, than regional governments in Canada usually do.
 

A second theme is simply the flexibility of regional districts, and how this allows them to tailor their functions to meet local needs, instead of having a long list of mandatory functions rigidly imposed across the board by the province. Useful as this is administratively, it does make it hard for the general public to get a clear idea of what regional districts do, because no two districts are completely alike.
 

A final theme in the literature is that there has been tension within regional districts. Urban and rural areas have not always agreed about what needs doing and what should have priority, and neighbouring municipalities in urban areas have not always agreed about where developments that would bring in lucrative property taxes should be located, or conversely, where unwanted developments should be situated (the "not in my backyard syndrome" at the regional level). Various mechanisms, and the removal of the regional planning function in 1983, have eased these tensions over the years. There is also some tension between regional districts and the province, which has, on occasion, overruled some of their decisions. See also section 9E, on regional planning.
 

A. General Canadian Works

Bish, Robert L. and Vincent Ostrom. Understanding Urban Government: Metropolitan Reform Reconsidered. Washington, D. C.: The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1973. This is an American work, but many of the arguments can be applied in a Canadian context. One of the major works in the field.
 

Feldman, Lionel D. and Katherine A. Graham. "Local Government Reform in Canada." In Local Government Reform and Reorganization: An International Perspective, ed. Arthur B. Gunlicks, 151-68. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1981.
 

Higgins, Donald J. H. Local and Urban Politics in Canada. Chapter 5. Toronto: Gage, 1986. Provides a province by province overview of local government reorganization since the end of World War Two.
 

Magnusson, Warren. "Metropolitan Reform in the Capitalist City." Canadian Journal of Political Science 14 (Sept. 1981): 557-85.
 

Pacific Rim Metropolitan Conference Proceedings. April 5 to 10, 1981, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Hosted by: the British Columbia Ministry of Municipal Affairs and the Greater Vancouver Regional District in association with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Co-published by the Greater Vancouver Regional District, 1982.
 

Plunkett, Thomas J. Urban Canada and Its Government: A Study of Municipal Organization. Toronto: Macmillan, 1968. See chapters 8 and 9.
 

Self, Peter. Planning the Urban Region: A Comparative Study of Policies and Organizations. University, Alabama: University of Alabama Press, 1982. Includes some discussion of Canada.
 

Tindal, C. R. Structural Changes in Local Government: Government for Urban Regions. Monographs on Canadian Urban Government, no. 2. Toronto: Institute of Public Administration of Canada, 1977. Includes discussion of regional districts.
 

Wichern, Philip. "Metropolitan Reform and the Restructuring of Local Governments in the North American City." In Power and Place: Canadian Urban Development in the North American Context, ed. Gilbert A. Stelter and Alan F. J. Artibise, 292-322. Vancouver: The University of British Columbia Press, 1986.
 

B. Works about British Columbia

Barnes, D. W. "The System of Regional Districts in British Columbia." In A Look to the North: Canadian Regional Experience, 109-25. Substate Regionalism and the Federal System series, vol. 5. Washington: Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, 1974.
 

Bernard, Andre, Jacques Leveille, and Guy Lord. The Political and Administrative Structures of the Metropolitan Region of Vancouver. Ottawa: Ministry of State for Urban Affairs, 1975. Cover title begins Profile Vancouver.
 

Bish, Robert L. Local Government in British Columbia. Chapter 4. Richmond, B.C.: Union of British Columbia Municipalities in cooperation with the University of Victoria School of Public Administration, 1987.
 

Bracewell, Ben. "The Development of Local Government in British Columbia." Mimeo. Copy held by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Recreation and Culture Local Government Research Library, 1970.
 

British Columbia. Department of Municipal Affairs. A Guide to Municipal and Regional District Administrative Procedures. Victoria, 1970.
 

British Columbia. Department of Municipal Affairs. The Regional District Concept: What It is - How it Works. (Interview with the Minister of Municipal Affairs.) Victoria, 1968.
 

British Columbia. Department of Municipal Affairs. Regional District Conference, Newcombe Theatre, Parliament Building, Victoria, British Columbia. Victoria, 1971.
 

British Columbia. Department of Municipal Affairs. Regional Districts in British Columbia 1971; A General Review. Victoria, 1971.
 

British Columbia. Development Process Committee. Development Process Committee Report. Vancouver: The Committee, 1981.
 

British Columbia. Lower Mainland Region Planning Board. The Greater Vancouver Metropolitan Community: A Preliminary Factual Study. New Westminster, B.C., 1954.
 

British Columbia. Ministry of Municipal Affairs. Proposed Regional District Legislation: A Discussion Paper. Victoria, September 1987.
 

British Columbia. Ministry of Municipal Affairs. Regional Government Reform: A Discussion Paper. Victoria, 1979.
 

British Columbia. Ministry of Municipal Affairs. Development Services Branch. A Guide to Advisory Planning Commissions. Victoria, 1986.
 

British Columbia. Ministry of Municipal Affairs. Development Services Branch. A Guide to the Development Permit System. Victoria, 1986.
 

British Columbia. Ministry of Municipal Affairs. Policy and Research Branch. Regional Districts in British Columbia: Policy Proposals for Legislative Reform. September 1986. Copy held by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Recreation and Culture Local Government Research Library.
 

British Columbia. Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Transit. Development Services Branch. Board of Variance Guide. Victoria, 1986.
 

British Columbia. Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Transit. Development Services Branch. Bylaw Review Procedures for Regional Districts. Victoria, 1986.
 

British Columbia. Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Transit. Development Services Branch. A Guide to Rural Land Use Bylaws. Victoria, 1986.
 

British Columbia. Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Transit. Development Services Branch. Guide to the Preparation of Official Community Plans by Regional Districts. Victoria, 1986.
 

British Columbia. Ministry of Regional Development and Ministers of State. Back grounder. Victoria, 1988. About development regions, rather than regional districts.
 

British Columbia. Regional District Review Committee. Report of the Committee. Victoria. Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, 1978. Chairman: Rendina Hamilton.
 

British Columbia. Regional District Survey Committee. Summary Report of the Regional District Survey Committee. Prepared by Dan Campbell, Chairman. Victoria: Queen's Printer, 1986. There are also twenty-eight individual reports.
 

Brown, James E. "Regional Districts in British Columbia." Municipal Finance 41 (Nov. 1968): 82-86.
 

Citizens' Research Institute of Canada. A Suggested Plan of Local Government for the Victoria Metropolitan Area. A Report prepared for the Victoria Chamber of Commerce and the Victoria Junior Chamber of Commerce. Victoria, 1956.
 

Collier, Robert W. "The Evolution of Regional Districts in British Columbia." B.C. Studies, no. 15 (1972): 29-39.
 

Corbett, David C., with the assistance of Eleanor R. Toren. A Survey of Metropolitan Governments. A Report to the Metropolitan Joint Committee, Vancouver, September 1958. Vancouver: Department of Economics and Political Science, University of British Columbia, 1958.
 

Corke, S. E. Land Use Controls in British Columbia: A Contribution to a Comparative Study of Canadian Planning Systems. Land Policy Paper no. 3. Toronto: Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto, 1983.
 

The Metropolitan Joint Committee. Vancouver, British Columbia. Final Report to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, British Columbia. Vancouver: The Committee, 1960.
 

Payne-O'Connor, Josephine. Sharing Power: Women in Politics: Vancouver Island Profiles. Victoria, B.C.: Kachina Press, 1986. Chapter 12, "Regional District Chairmen," 133-44.
 

Smith, Patrick J. "Regional Governance in British Columbia." Planning and Administration 13 (Autumn 1986): 7-20.
 

Staples, Lorena P. D. and Thomas F. Moore. Division of Responsibilities: Regional Districts in British Columbia. New Westminster: Union of B.C. Municipalities, January 1985.
 

Swainson, Neil A. "The Provincial-Municipal Relationship." Chapter 8 of The Reins of Power: Governing British Columbia. By J. Terence Morley, Norman R. Ruff, Neil A. Swainson, R. Jeremy Wilson, and Walter D. Young. Vancouver: Douglas and McIntyre, 1983.
 

Tennant, Paul and David Zirnhelt. "Metropolitan Government in Vancouver: The Strategy of Gentle Imposition." Canadian Public Administration 16 (Spring 1973): 124-38.
 

Wilson, James W. "Regional Planning in British Columbia." Community Planning Review 2 (Nov. 1952): 102-04. For historical background.
 


Please send any comments or questions to Nicola.Marotz@gov.bc.ca
 

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