Regional District Restructure
The 27 regional districts in the province cover its entire geographic area except for the
far northwest corner of the province. Therefore, all regional districts border on at least on
one other regional district. In addition, each regional district is divided into a number of
electoral areas. The electoral areas may have specific names such as
“Southern Gulf Islands” or be designated by a letter such as “A”, “B”, “C”.
The boundary of every regional district and its electoral areas are described in the document
that the province approved when the regional district was incorporated. This document is
called Letters Patent and besides describing boundaries, it establishes
the name of the regional district and its voting unit.
Voting units are used to determine how
many directors are appointed from a municipality and how many votes the directors have when an issue for discussion at a
regional district board meeting calls for a weighted vote. Voting
units can be adjusted in circumstances where inequities appear to have
developed because of population changes in high growth areas.
On occasion, the boundaries of electoral areas need to be realigned. This may be the case
where an electoral area is experiencing rapid growth or when a municipality is
or restructured and the remainder of the electoral area is too small to be maintained
independently. In this case, the remainder of the electoral area is often joined
(amalgamated) with an adjoining electoral area.
The majority of electoral area boundary changes result when there is a municipal
extension. By definition, a municipality and an electoral area
cannot exist in the same geographic area. Therefore, the boundary of the regional district
electoral area is reduced whenever a municipality extends its boundary. Municipal boundaries
are typically extended to areas that will benefit from improved service coordination, more
comprehensive land use planning,
more services and increased representation.
Occasionally regional district boundaries need minor realignments. However, major regional
district boundary changes have also taken place. For example, the
Fraser Valley Regional
District was created in 1995 from the amalgamation of three different regional districts. The
Northern Rockies Regional District
and the Peace River Regional
District were created when the Peace River – Liard Regional District was split in 1987.
Improvement districts are most often located
within regional districts even though they operate autonomously. They are responsible for
providing local services for the benefit of the residents in a community. They vary
considerably in size from small subdivisions to larger communities and there are instances
when the Letters Patent that incorporated the improvement district are revoked by Cabinet
order and all of the assets, liabilities and bylaws of the improvement district are
transferred to a regional district. This transfer or
“conversion” (235 KB) of
improvement district services to a regional district is also considered to be a restructure.
All decisions to change boundary descriptions or voting units in Letters Patent must be made
by Cabinet. The ministry reviews the applications and makes recommendations to Cabinet. 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 also 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.