Municipal & Provincial Concurrent Authority
The Community Charter recognizes that, in four spheres, municipalities and the provincial government have a shared interest in regulating activities.
The Community Charter concurrent authority provisions apply to bylaws that deal with:
- Building standards covered by the Building Act and regulations under that Act (for example, the BC Building Code)
- Public health
- Protection of the natural environment
- Prohibition of soil removal or prohibition of deposit of contaminated soil
Municipalities are provided with powers to adopt bylaws on matters covered by these spheres of concurrent authority. However, this municipal authority is subject to provincial involvement.
Regional districts do not have the same scope of regulatory authority as municipalities, and are empowered to enact bylaws in relation to three of the four spheres (public health, building standards and prohibition of soil deposit or removal), subject to the Community Charter’s concurrent authority rules.
Any new municipal bylaw or amendment to an existing bylaw that relates to one of the four spheres of concurrent authority requires provincial government involvement. Bylaws related to the four spheres of concurrent authority must do one of the following:
- Comply with a regulation of the responsible minister
- Comply with an agreement between the responsible minister and the municipality or regional district
- Be approved by the responsible minister
Four ministers are designated as responsible for the four spheres of concurrent authority. The designated minister has primary responsibility for the matters covered in the respective sphere:
- Public health – minister responsible for the Public Health Act
- Protection of the natural environment - Minister responsible for the Environmental Management Act
- Wildlife - minister responsible for the Environmental Management Act
- Building standards - minister responsible for provincial building regulations under the Local Government Act
- Prohibition of soil deposit or removal - minister responsible for the Ministry of Energy and Mines Act
How to Proceed
Before adopting a bylaw, each municipal council or regional district board must determine if the matter under consideration falls within a concurrent sphere of authority, whether they require some form of provincial involvement and if so, what form.
The council or board will want to determine if there is a relevant regulation in place. By regulation, the responsible minister may define the scope of the provincial interest regarding a particular sphere of concurrent authority. If a bylaw is in accordance with the relevant minister’s regulation, the bylaw may be adopted without having to obtain specific ministerial approval.
The Responsible Minister Regulation under the Community Charter designates the minister responsible for each of the four spheres of concurrent authority. As the names of the ministries responsible for various Acts may change, always check to confirm current responsibilities
Statutes and Regulations Relating to the Community Charter’s Concurrent Authorities
Some provincial regulations have been developed regarding concurrent authority. Section 9 of the Community Charter provides that a minister’s regulation may:
- Establish matters for which local governments may exercise their concurrent regulatory authority without provincial involvement
- Restrict or set conditions for the exercise of that authority
- Specify those matters subject to the responsible minister’s approval
As well, other legislation may restrict a local government’s activities within a sphere of concurrent authority.
Building Act & Buildings & Other Structures Bylaws Regulation
Under the Building Act, the minister responsible for the Act administers the “British Columbia Building Code.” The Building Code regulates building construction, and includes minimum requirements for building safety, accessibility, fire systems and energy efficiency.
The Building Act also provides local governments with limited building regulation authority. Local building bylaws can only regulate matters that are not subject to requirements under provincial regulations. As well The Act’s “Buildings and Other Structures Bylaws” Regulation clarifies that local governments may autonomously regulate buildings or structures exempted from or not covered by the BC Building Code.
Public Health Bylaws Regulation
The Public Health Bylaws Regulation requires that a municipal council or regional district board must consult with the regional health board or the medical health officer responsible for public health matters within the jurisdiction before any health-related bylaw can be adopted.
Bylaws relating to the protection, promotion or preservation of the health of individuals or the maintenance of sanitary conditions must be deposited with the responsible minister. A bylaw that restricts or has the potential to restrict an individual’s access to health services or that may impact health authority resources will require the responsible minister’s approval.
A Consultation Agreement (PDF) among the ministry responsible for health, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and the ministry responsible for local government establishes an intergovernmental mechanism to share information regarding the operation of the Public Health Bylaws Regulation.
Spheres of Concurrent Jurisdiction - Environment & Wildlife Regulation
The Spheres of Concurrent Jurisdiction - Environment and Wildlife Regulation provides that municipalities may autonomously regulate, prohibit and impose requirements in relation to certain matters:
- Activities affecting waterways
- Sale of wild flowers
- Application of pesticides for certain purposes (often referred to as cosmetic uses)
- Control and eradication of some alien invasive species
- Control of some wildlife species
- Feeding or attraction of specified dangerous wildlife
The regulation does contain some specific restrictions on municipal powers in relation to the application of pesticides. For the purpose of the regulation, “wildlife” has the same meaning as in the Wildlife Act.
- Spheres of Concurrent Jurisdiction - Environment and Wildlife Regulation
- Definition of "Wildlife" Regulation
Soil Removal & Deposit
No regulations have been developed in relation to the prohibition of soil removal or deposit. All municipal and regional district bylaws prohibiting soil removal or prohibiting the deposit of soil or other material (making reference to the quality of the soil or to contamination), require approval of the responsible minister.