Regional district service establishing bylaw requirements
Certain legislative requirements must be met before regional districts may receive provincial approval for service establishing bylaws. Provincial government staff review these bylaws against the requirements of the legislation before approval.
A regional district has broad authority to operate any service it considers necessary or desirable for all or a portion of the regional district. To operate most services, the regional district board must pass a service establishing bylaw.
All service establishing bylaws require approval by the Inspector of Municipalities and most also require participating area approval before they may be adopted. Other legislative requirements must also be met.
Provincial bylaw review
In support of the Inspector of Municipalities’ approval role, provincial government staff review regional district service establishing bylaws against the requirements of the legislation.
Regional districts may submit their service establishing bylaws along with supporting materials by email to:
- Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Governance and Structure Branch: LGGovernance@gov.bc.ca
A hard copy is not required. The bylaw should be attached separate from the supporting materials.
If a bylaw is expected to be complex or out of the ordinary, local governments may wish to consult with ministry staff early in the process, as additional supporting documentation may be required.
Service establishing process
There are a few different steps in the service establishing bylaw process. How long it takes to complete the service establishing bylaw process depends on a number of factors, including the participating area approval method chosen and the complexity of the service. The various steps in the establishing bylaw process are:
- Service establishing bylaw drafted and board gives it three readings
- Municipal council or electoral area director provide consent (if applicable)
- Provincial review and statutory approval by the Inspector of Municipalities (6-8 weeks)
- Approval of the electors (if applicable, 8-11 weeks)
- Adoption of the bylaw by the board
- Period during which bylaw can be challenged by applying to Supreme Court (1 month)
- Adopted bylaw submitted to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs for their records
Provincial Statutory Approval
Once a regional district service establishing bylaw is given three readings, a signed, certified copy of the bylaw at third reading, along with all required supporting information is emailed to the B.C. government. Provinciall staff review the bylaw for legislative compliance and financial viability. Once the initial review is complete, the bylaw is sent to the Inspector of Municipalities for final approval and issuance of a statutory approval certificate. If a regional district service establishing bylaw is accompanying a loan authorization bylaw, these should be submitted to the provincial government together.
Content of Service Establishing Bylaw
Under the legislation, all regional district service establishing bylaws must:
- Describe the service: for example, provision of water, regional parks, sewer
- Define the service boundaries: for example, which properties are in the service
- Identify the participants: for example, which electoral areas or municipalities are in the service
- Indicate the method of cost recovery: for example, property value taxes, parcel taxes, fees and other charges
Most regional district service establishing bylaws must also contain the maximum amount that the regional district may requisition (collect) for the service. However, the following services are exempt from this requirement:
- Regulatory services
- Regional development
- Social planning
- Economic development
- Emergency programs and communications
- Regional parks
- Heritage conservation
- Participation in regional library districts
Learn more about regional district requisition and taxation.
Optional content of Service Establishing Bylaws
In addition to the required content, regional districts have the option of adding special provisions to the service establishing bylaw. These include:
- Setting out a method of apportioning costs among the participants, for example requiring one participant to pay slightly less or more than the rest of the participants in the service
- Establishing a different method than population for determining the number of votes to which a director is entitled regarding the administration and operation of the service
- Providing for appointments to a body established by the regional district board to administer and operate the service, and establish voting rules for the body
- Setting a shorter time period before a service review can be initiated than what is provided for in the Local Government Act, section 357 - Initiating a service review
- Establishing an alternative service review process than what is provided for in the Local Government Act, Part 10, Division 6 - Dispute Resolution in Relation to Services
- Establishing terms and conditions for withdrawal from the service
- Any other provisions respecting the establishment and operation of the service that the regional district board considers appropriate
To assist the Inspector of Municipalities’ approval decision, provincial government staff need the following information to support their review of a regional district service establishing bylaw:
- Financial plan: Evidence that the service is or will be included in the adopted five-year financial plan.
- Operating budget: A budget of the anticipated revenues and expenditures for the service for the next five years. The budget should specify the methods to be used for initial financing and ongoing cost recovery for the service.
- Capital budget: If the service will include a large capital component, a separate capital budget showing that engineering and contingency costs have been considered.
- Tax impact: If the service will result in a substantial tax impact to properties in any property class, information on any consultation that has been undertaken.
- Assessment breakdown: The assessed values of the properties in the proposed service area by property class and the number of occurrences in each class. This is crucial when the service area is a portion of an electoral area or municipality.
- Cost recovery: If the methods of cost recovery include property taxation, the method of taxation that will be used (either property value or parcel tax).
- Requisition limit: An indication of the calculation used to arrive at the requisition limit. If both a rate per $1,000 of property assessment and a maximum dollar limit are provided for, the calculations must initially be equivalent. Please note that a requisition limit specified by a rate per $1,000 must be based on the net taxable value of land and improvements and cannot be based on improvements only.
- Background information: Staff or consultant reports that provide background information on the service.
- Method of participating area approval: Indicate the method of approval. If consent is being used, include the consents and petition certificate of sufficiency (if applicable) with the statutory approval application. If approval of the electors is being used, indicate whether it is the alternative approval process or assent voting and when council or the board would like to conduct these.
- Exemption to participating area approval: Indicate if the bylaw is for the purpose of preparing or implementing a waste management plan that has been requested by, or approved by, the minister responsible for the Environmental Management Act and does not require participating area approval.
Amendments and repeals
Regional district service establishing bylaws may either be amended or repealed by following the same steps as those for a new service (including Inspector of Municipalities and participating area approval), or, through a process requiring two-thirds consent of the participants in the service (some restrictions may apply).