Intergovernmental collaboration and relationship-building

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 governments typically have authority to provide services and undertake activities within a defined geographic area, such as within the boundary of a municipality or within a regional district service area. In some cases, local governments have agreements that allow them to provide services outside their geographic boundary, such as when providing services to neighbouring First Nation lands.

Within a local government’s boundary, other governments and other bodies may have legal authority or a significant interest, for example:

  • The federal government, in relation to a federal airport
  • A First Nation, in relation to land
  • An improvement district, in relation to providing specific services

Local governments often collaborate among themselves, and with other levels of government, on a variety of matters, including:

  • Regional planning and service delivery
  • Economic development
  • Regional parks
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Climate change
  • Infrastructure

To be effective in a multi-party environment, local governments need the capacity to build relationships, collaborate on challenges and opportunities and resolve problems through interest-based dispute resolution.

Enhancing collaboration

Local government legislation, advisory and educational materials enhance the capacity of local governments to build partnerships, resolve issues that cross jurisdictional boundaries, and effectively work through conflict using a collaborative, interest-based approach.

These resources focus on regional districts however, many of the findings apply to municipalities.

Local government and first nations relations

Many local governments and First Nations are geographic neighbours and as such are increasingly discussing common interests, challenges and mutual opportunities for their communities.

Local governments and First Nations can develop neighbour-to-neighbour relationships. However, the nature of that relationship can differ depending on local circumstances and jurisdictional context.

All local governments operate under provincial legislation, however for First Nations it may vary. Non-treaty First Nations typically operate on Federal Reserve lands under federal legislation. Treaty First Nations operate independently on treaty settlement lands under the terms of their final treaty agreements and related legislation. A Treaty First Nation can also join a regional district, becoming part of the local government system.

As part of building and enhancing relations, local governments can work together on common interests with First Nations and develop partnerships through protocols, service agreements and memorandums of understanding. This collaboration can be facilitated through the Community to Community Forum Program managed by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities with support of the First Nations Summit, and financial support from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and the federal government.

Local government and First Nation engagement helps communities explore opportunities for co-operation and collaboration and strengthen neighbour-to-neighbour relationships. This engagement differs from the provincial government’s constitutional duty to consult with First Nations on certain statutory approvals, such as when local governments propose a boundary change. In the latter case, local government engagement can help assist the provincial government in fulfilling its duty to consult.

Learn more about engagement and consultation with First Nations:

First Nations can consider having provisions in their final agreements to enable their membership in a regional district and to also generally enhance relationships with local government neighbours.

Intergovernmental dispute resolution

Despite best intentions and efforts to work collaboratively, intergovernmental disagreements can occur between local governments and also between local governments and the provincial government.

The Local Government Act and the Community Charter provide for a principled, interest-based approaches to solve intergovernmental conflicts with minimum delay and cost.