Local government economic development

Economic development helps increase the strength and diversity of local and regional economies to create jobs and improve quality of life for residents. Municipalities and regional districts can take various approaches and use specific tools and strategies to support economic development in their communities.

Local governments can enhance the well-being of their communities and regions through a variety of approaches, programs and services for supporting economic development. To ensure fairness, local governments cannot directly provide assistance to businesses.

Local governments can:

  • Engage in commercial, industrial and business activities through tools such as local government corporations
  • Designate a business improvement area or provide specified tax exemptions, such as a revitalization tax exemption for downtown revitalization
  • Partner with others including businesses, community groups or regional trusts to build new facilities or infrastructure
  • Create an economic development department, establish an advisory committee or include economic policies in bylaws and plans
  • Seek ownership or tenure of Crown land for projects such as a water treatment plant, recreational facilities or heritage sites to support tourism
  • Establish a resort association to provide promotional services and activities for areas with amenities such as ski hills, hot springs, lake or ocean fronts, or wineries.

Local government corporations

Local governments may form or acquire shares in a for-profit corporation (under the Business Corporations Act) with the approval of the Inspector of Municipalities. The Inspector's approval is required to ensure consistency with provincial legislation. Municipalities and regional districts may form societies under the Societies Act without provincial approval.

Corporations are commonly formed purposes such as housing, utility services, business partnerships or land development.

Municipal business promotion

While municipalities may not assist businesses directly, they can support economic development and business in their community by enabling a business improvement area and providing specified tax exemptions, including revitalization tax exemptions.

Sponsored crown grants and nominal rent tenures

Local governments can apply to use Crown (provincial) land for economic purposes. Sponsored Crown grants are transfers of Crown land to local governments and for minimal transfer costs. Nominal rent tenures are leases and licences of occupation on Crown land provided to local governments and not-for-profit community organizations for a token amount.

Crown land tenure can be used to support economic development through, for example, water or wastewater treatment facilities to support growth, community halls for social events and programming, regional parks, recreational facilities and heritage sites to support tourism, and airports for inter-regional transportation.

Learn more about eligibility for Crown land transfer and nominal rent tenures and how to apply through FrontCounter BC:

Resort associations

Municipalities and regional districts can assist resort development by approving the establishment of a resort association within their boundaries. Resort associations are local organizations specifically authorized by legislation to impose fees on property owners for resort promotion.

A resort association operates as a society under provisions in the Resort Associations Act and the Societies Act. Resort areas with amenities such as ski hills, hot springs, lakefronts and wineries or ocean shorelines can benefit from the promotional services and activities provided by a resort association.