Provincial Approval of Local Government Bylaws

Local governments generally have broad authority to provide services, adopt bylaws to regulate, prohibit and impose requirements and undertake other activities within their jurisdiction. For certain matters, such as financial management, there is strong provincial interest to maintain a role in approving local government actions, plans and bylaws.

Provincial bodies that approve actions, plans and bylaws include the Inspector of Municipalities, the Lieutenant Governor in Council and provincial ministers or officials. For certain matters there is strong provincial interest, especially where there is a potential impact on the local government system as a whole, such as financial management. In those cases, the provincial government has a role in approving local government actions, plans and bylaws.

Some bylaws and actions that require approval from the the Inspector of Municipalities include:

  • Regional district service establishing bylaws
  • Development cost charge bylaws
  • Short-term capital borrowing bylaws
  • Loan authorization (long term borrowing) bylaws
  • Borrowing in relation to a municipal local area service

Local governments also require provincial approval for bylaws or plans such as the establishment of neighbourhood constituencies (approval by the Lieutenant Governor in Council), bylaws that prohibit the deposit of soil or other material, (approval from the minister responsible for the Ministry of Energy and Mines Act), and provincially required public health plans (approval from the minister responsible for the Public Health Act).

Inspector of Municipalities

The Inspector of Municipalities, appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, is responsible for oversight of local government financial matters and approval of certain decisions to ensure consistency with provincial legislation.

Sequence of Approvals

If a municipal or regional district bylaw requires the approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, a minister or the Inspector of Municipalities, that approval must be obtained after the bylaw has been given its third reading and before it is adopted.

If a municipal or regional district bylaw requires both provincial and elector approval, then the former must be obtained first.

Regional District Services

Before adoption by a regional district board all regional district service establishing bylaws require approval by the Inspector of Municipalities and participating area approval (approval by electors and/or the jurisdiction participating in the service).

Provincial legislation outlines specific content that must be contained in these bylaws. Additionally, there is background material that must be submitted to the B.C. government when these proposed bylaws are submitted for approval.

Borrowing

All municipal and regional district long-term and short-term capital borrowing bylaws require approval by the Inspector of Municipalities as well as approval of the electors before they may be adopted. Security issuing bylaws of regional districts as well as loan authorization bylaws (long-term borrowing) also generally require participating area approval before they may be adopted by the board. 'Participating area' refers to the municipality, electoral area, or Treaty First Nation (if applicable) that is the participant in a regional district service.

Provincial legislation outlines specific content that must be contained in these bylaws. Additionally, there is background material that must be submitted to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing when these proposed bylaws are submitted for approval.

Development Cost Charge Bylaws

A development cost charge bylaw requires approval by the Inspector of Municipalities before it may be adopted by a local government.

Provincial legislation outlines specific content that must be contained in these bylaws. Additionally, there is background material that must be submitted to the B.C. government when these proposed bylaws are submitted for approval.

Local governments seeking approval of development cost charge bylaws would email the proposed bylaw and all background material to:

Municipal & Provincial Concurrent Authority

Certain municipal powers under the Community Charter, known as spheres of concurrent authority, require provincial involvement in relation to the bylaw. There are four separate spheres of concurrent authority in which authority to make laws is shared with the B.C. government. The Community Charter’s concurrent authority provisions also apply to regional districts for two of the four spheres—public health and soil deposit or removal.

Where there are spheres of concurrent authority, municipal authority is subject to provincial involvement.