Bylaw Amendment, Repeal & Conversion Requirements

Local government bylaws may only be amended or repealed by bylaw. Most amendment and repeal bylaws are subject to the same requirements as the power to adopt a new bylaw under that authority. Some regional district bylaws may be amended or repealed with two-thirds of the participants in the service consenting to the change.

Once a local government bylaw is adopted, it may only be amended or repealed by bylaw. Generally, bylaws to amend or repeal an existing bylaw are subject to the same approval and other requirements as the power to adopt a new bylaw under that authority.

An exception to the general rule for amendments and repeals is regional district establishing bylaws and loan authorization bylaws. The Local Government Act provides the option that the board may amend or repeal an establishing bylaw or loan authorization bylaw with at least two-thirds consent of the participants in the service.

General Process for Bylaw Amendments & Repeals

Unless otherwise specified in legislation, amendment and repeal bylaws are subject to the same approval and other requirements as the power to adopt a new bylaw under that authority. For example, if a municipal council or regional district board wanted to amend a zoning bylaw it would need to hold a public hearing after second reading of the amendment or repeal bylaw before it could adopt the amendment bylaw.

If a municipality wanted to amend a loan authorization bylaw it would need to obtain approval from the Inspector of Municipalities and approval of the electors before it could adopt the amendment bylaw. The municipality would also need to obtain consent from the regional district board for the change if the regional district already consented to undertake the financing through a security issuing bylaw.

Minister Can Exempt from Approval of the Electors

Under the Community Charter the minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has the authority to exempt an amendment or repeal bylaw from approval of the electors or assent of the electors and set any terms and conditions considered appropriate. The minister generally only uses this authority in situations where there is a provincial interest. This authority does not apply to regional district service establishing and loan authorization bylaw amendments and repeals.

Process for Regional District Service Establishing & Loan Authorization Bylaw Amendments and Repeals

Regional district boards may repeal or amend service establishing bylaws and loan authorization bylaws in one of three ways:

  • In accordance with the requirements applicable to the adoption of the bylaw (including Inspector of Municipalities' approval)
  • With the consent of two-thirds of the participants in the service and Inspector of Municipalities' approval
  • With the consent of two-thirds of the participants in the service and meeting the requirements of the Regional Districts Establishing Bylaw Approval Exemption Regulation which exempts some bylaws from Inspector of Municipalities' approval

Two-thirds consent of the participants is the most common way to amend service establishing bylaws and loan authorization bylaws as it is more straightforward to complete, especially when changes to the bylaw are often minimal (for example, adding a few properties to the service area or slightly increasing the requisition amount).

Where substantive amendments are required (for example, a large increase in the requisition amount or an expansion of the scope of the service), the regional district may choose to amend the bylaw in accordance with the requirements applicable to the adoption of the bylaw.

The minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing also has the ability to require a regional district to amend or repeal a bylaw in accordance with the requirements applicable to the adoption of the bylaw, or, order that the bylaw receive approval of the electors prior to adoption. This power is usually only exercised if the minster considers the change to have a significant impact on the electorate.

Special Provisions for Changing Service Withdrawal Conditions

If a regional district service establishing bylaw contains special provisions for service withdrawal, these cannot be altered without consent from all of the participants in the service (as opposed to the two-thirds consent available for other service establishing bylaw amendments).

However, most service establishing bylaws do not contain terms and conditions for withdrawal as this is optional content. Where there are no provisions for service withdrawal explicitly stated in the bylaw, a participant may leave the service with consent of two-thirds of the participants. Where the participants cannot come to agreement, there are dispute resolution provisions in the Local Government Act that deal specifically with service withdrawal.

Special Regulation to Exempt Some Amendments from Inspector Approval

The Regional Districts Establishing Bylaw Approval Exemption Regulation allows regional district service establishing bylaws to be amended without Inspector of Municipalities' approval where either of the following apply:

  • Service area boundary amendments - at least 50% of the parcels representing at least 50% of net taxable value of land and improvements to be added or removed from the service have signed a petition to request the change
  • Increase to the maximum requisition - the amount of the increase is less than or equal to 25% of the requisition amount on the date the original bylaw was adopted or the date five years before the date of third reading of the amendment bylaw (whichever is later)

These amendment bylaws still require consent from two-thirds of the participants in the service before adoption and must still be sent to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing for filing. Ministry staff will review the bylaw for consistency with the regulation.

When submitting a bylaw under this regulation, the regional district would provide:

  • A cover letter indicating that the regulation is being used
  • Copies of consent from at least two-thirds of the participants in the service
  • the corporate officer's certificate of sufficiency for the petition (if the amendment is to add or remove property)

As with most local government bylaws, there must be one day between third reading and adoption of the amendment bylaw.

Regional District Continued Service Conversion Bylaws

Prior to 1989, regional districts' core powers were provided in their letters patent (constituting documents). Therefore, they could only establish new services by:

  • Applying to Lieutenant Governor in Council to amend letters patent to augment or add a regional district's function
  • Adopting a specified area bylaw to provide services to small communities within unincorporated rural areas

In 1989, regional districts were authorized to adopt service establishing bylaws meaning they could choose from a menu of powers provided in legislation and establish these services by bylaw. While regional districts no longer have to apply for supplementary letters patent or adopt specified area bylaws, some regional district services, called "continued services," are still provided under these original authorities.

Because continued services no longer meet the requirements of the legislation, any amendment or repeal requires the continued service to be first converted to a service establishing bylaw, which requires approval of the Inspector of Municipalities.

Process to Convert a Continued Service

The process to convert a regional district continued service is similar to the process of amending a regional district service establishing bylaw, with a few differences:

  • The bylaw that converts the continued service must include all the current legislated content for a service establishing bylaw under section 339 of the Local Government Act -- many supplementary letters patent and specified area bylaws may be missing information as they predate some of the legislated requirements
  • The bylaw that converts the continued service should specifically identify that it is a continued service that is being converted to a service establishing bylaw -- an example of this wording is: "The function of [PURPOSE] as granted by Division ### (if applicable) of Supplementary Letters Patent dated [MM/DD/YY] is hereby converted and established as the [SERVICE NAME]."

The process to convert a regional district continued service is:

  1. Service establishing bylaw to convert a continued service drafted and board gives it three readings
  2. Two-thirds of the participants in the service provide consent
  3. Provincial review and statutory approval by the Inspector of Municipalities (six to eight weeks)
  4. Period during which bylaw can be challenged by applying to Supreme Court (one month)
  5. Adopted bylaw submitted to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing for its records

Given these bylaws can be complicated, provincial government staff are available to conduct a preliminary review prior to bylaw being moving forward to convert a continued service.