What is the Role of Local Government?

Local governments include both municipalities (and their councils) and regional districts (and their boards). Both are governed by the Community Charter and the Local Government Act. However, the authority is somewhat different in the case of regional districts. Regional districts have not been granted “natural person powers” as have municipalities under the Community Charter. Nor have they been given exemption from elector approval for agreements with capital liabilities to the same extent as municipalities.

The B.C. government works collaboratively with local governments to provide information and services to support economic development across B.C. Local governments are a key player in leading, partnering with or supporting the creation of an economic development strategy. The strategy's success will have a direct effect on your community's tax base, ideally providing additional revenue to maintain, expand and improve local infrastructure and community services. 

They can initiate community economic planning efforts, building on their critical role in shaping community growth and determining land use. The tools at their disposal include planning and zoning, taxation, supporting local businesses, and working collaboratively with surrounding communities and the larger region for coordinated development and planning. The benefits from these activities range from a business-friendly atmosphere that encourages job growth, retention, and stable, well-paying jobs for residents to improving the quality of life for residents by providing improved services, environmental and recreational areas, as well as cultural and social activities.  

Some specific activities that local governments can do to promote economic development include:

  • actively promote the development of all economic sectors in the region
  • encourage sustainable business practices
  • develop, implement and promote business retention strategies
  • identify and actively market the community's assets 
  • communicate internally and externally on projects that support and promote economic development
  • act as first point of call for investment enquiries, providing accurate information, encouragement and support
  • champion existing economic development plans, ensuring they are assessed, reviewed and updated as required
  • lead in the creation of a plan, if one does not already exist, including initiating a discussion on the possible structure and support of an economic development organization
  • assist in identifying key members for boards and assignments
  • support economic development officers to accomplish goals
  • communicate to the public that economic development is a long term process and success must be measured over time