Local Government Consent & 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.

Public participation in local government decision-making is necessary because locally elected officials are responsible for making decisions that affect citizens, businesses and other interests in their communities. Citizens may be engaged and involved in decision-making through a number of informal and formal processes.

Some decisions and actions require formal local government consent or elector approval under the Community Charter or Local Government Act before they are implemented.

Generally, matters that require local government consent or elector approval are those that may significantly impact the community over the longer term, such as:

Provincial legislation generally uses two terms to refer to local government consent and elector approval-- approval of the electors and participating area approval.

Approval of the Electors

Approval of the electors is required for a variety of municipal and regional district actions, including disposal of certain utilities or specified parkland, municipal boundary extensions, and municipal loan authorization bylaws.

Where approval of the electors is required, it may be obtained by the local government either directly through assent voting (referendum) or by first 'testing the waters' through the alternative approval process.

A few actions may only be approved through assent of the electors (assent voting).

Regional District Participating Area Approval

Participating area approval is required before a regional district may adopt a service establishment bylaw. Participating area approval is also required for most regional district loan authorization bylaws. 'Participating area' refers to the municipality, electoral area, or Treaty First Nation (if applicable) that is the participant in a regional district service.

How participating area approval is obtained depends on the type of participant (for example, municipality, electoral area, or Treaty First Nation) and the nature of the service.

  • Municipal and Treaty First Nation Participants: Participating area approval is usually obtained through consent.
  • Electoral Area Participants: Participating area approval is usually obtained through approval of the electors.

In addition to participating area approval, the Inspector of Municipalities must also approve the adoption of regional district service establishment bylaws.

Local Area Services

Local area services are municipal services paid for in whole or in part by local residents of an area and require owner or elector approval before they may be established.

To establish local area services:

  • Local property owners must submit a petition to council to establish local area services, or
  • Council can initiate a petition against for the property owners (conceptually similar to an alternative approval process), or
  • Through assent voting of all electors in the local service area

Business improvement areas may also be established using similar methods.