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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 incorporated 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 boundary 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.
 

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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:

  1. Restructure planning grants fund governance review studies and the public consultation process.
  2. Restructure assistance grants provide financial assistance to a restructured municipality. These are per capita grants provided in conjunction with assistance from other ministries.
  3. Restructure implementation grants fund the administrative costs for a restructured municipality.

The Branch also prepares Letters Patent for the consideration of Cabinet.
 

 

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