Local government governance and powers

Municipalities and regional districts in B.C. are empowered by provincial legislation to govern in a wide range of areas. Local government governance and powers focus specifically on how municipal councils and regional district board of directors organize, operate, provide services and make themselves accountable to their communities.

The processes involved in local government governance and powers include:

  • General local elections
  • Service provision
  • Establishment and enforcement of bylaws and other regulations
  • Collaboration and relationship-building between local governments, other levels of government and with First Nations

Local government governance and powers are established by provincial legislation such as the Local Government Act and Community Charter, which set out on the regulatory and administrative structures, powers and abilities of municipalities and regional districts to provide services that reflect their communities' needs and desires.

Municipal councils and regional district boards

Municipalities and regional districts are represented by elected officials who exercise the powers and perform the obligations of the local government with input from staff and citizens.

Local government bylaws

Municipal councils and regional district boards may only make decisions by bylaw or resolution. Bylaws are laws that formalize rules made by a council or board. Local governments may use bylaws for various purposes, especially to regulate, prohibit or impose requirements.

General local elections

General local elections in B.C. are held every four years on the third Saturday in October. The next general local elections will be held on Saturday, October 15, 2022.

General local elections (and by-elections) are the most direct way for the public to influence their local government, school district or other local governance body by determining the individuals who then make decisions and govern on their behalf following general voting day.

Local government powers and services

Local governments have broad powers, and can provide services, enter into agreements and regulate people and their property. These activities can be done by the local government or through delegation and working with others. Services include activities, works and facilities provided to the community by or on behalf of the local government.

Local government consent and approval of the electors

Municipalities and regional districts must obtain consent or approval of the electors before a municipal council or regional district board may proceed with certain matters. The legislation specifies the circumstances when each form of approval or consent can be used.

Conduct of locally elected officials

Legislation sets out key roles and responsibilities of locally elected officials. How those officials conduct themselves as individuals and as part of a collective of decision-making bodies is key to carrying out those responsibilities.

Local government economic development

Economic development helps increase the strength and diversity of local and regional economies to create jobs and improve quality of life for residents. Municipalities and regional districts can take various approaches and use specific tools and strategies to support economic development in their communities.

Collaborating and building relationships

Municipal councils and regional district boards govern effectively and create benefits for their communities through intergovernmental collaboration and relationship-building with other local governments, local authorities, the provincial government, First Nations and the federal government.

Local government incorporation and restructure

As communities change, residents may believe a change in local government structure and/or service delivery could better serve the needs of the community. Re-organizing local government occurs through a restructure process, which examines the impacts for the most appropriate governance/service delivery options. Changes are approved by Cabinet.