Resort associations deliver a range of promotional services and activities such as marketing, signage and special events to resort areas in communities. They can also act as a central booking agency for events and accommodations.
The role and function of resort associations is set out in the Resort Associations Act. The Act also sets out provisions for their governance and empowers resort associations to charge a levy to members that supports the cost of their operations. As societies established under the Societies Act, resort associations are guided by their bylaws as well as the requirements in the Societies Act.
Resort associations are designed to manage business promotion in the area of the resort and its surrounding area. They are accountable to their members and not to the local government in which they are located; however, support from the local government is key to establishing a resort association. While a resort association encourages the development and use of a resort area, it is not directly involved in the delivery of local services such as fire protection or drinking water.
The three existing resort associations in B.C. have been established in connection to ski hills - Whistler, Sun Peaks, and Red Mountain. Across BC, resort communities with amenities such as ski hills, hot springs, lakefronts and wineries, and ocean shorelines could all potentially benefit from the creation of a resort association.
A resort association can be established if one of the following conditions is met:
- The area is within a resort region, as designated by the Lieutenant Governor in Council (resort regions are areas recognized as unique resort-oriented communities primarily involved with resort activities),
- The area has ski lift operations, year-round recreational facilities and commercial overnight accommodations, or
- A person has entered into an agreement with the provincial government to develop ski lift operations, year-round recreational facilities and commercial overnight accommodation on provincial Crown land.
Creating a Resort Association
The following steps are needed to establish a resort association:
- Establishment of the resort promotion area must be approved by resolutions by the local government in which the resort area is located (a resort promotion area will include all properties likely to be part of future resort development);
- A petition process demonstrating support of at least 50 percent of the property owners representing at least 50 percent of the net taxable assessed value of the lands within the resort area; and
- Approval from the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
Support of Resort Property Owners
As a resort association is supported financially by charges levied on its members, the level of support from property owners within a proposed resort promotion area needs to be determined, along with the services that the resort association would deliver.
A formal petition of property owners is required as part of the process as evidence of their support for the resort association. Initial discussions and consultation are important to determine whether there is support for pursuing the initiative.
Resort Promotion Area & Resort Land
Resort Promotion Area
The resort promotion area is the defined area for which a resort association undertakes activities to promote, facilitate and encourage the development, maintenance and operation of a resort. Generally, this area includes the Crown lands on which the resort amenities are located along with the area with accommodation and residential areas, and additional property for future development.
The resort land is the area - either inside or contiguous with the resort promotional area - that includes the properties that pay charges levied to support the resort's promotional services. Resort land can include commercial and residential areas.
Defining the Resort Promotion Area & Resort Land
Resort association proponents are required to develop maps that define both the resort promotion area and the resort land. The maps require sufficient detail to identify each individual parcel of land within the boundary of each map. The boundary of the areas must follow legal lot lines and cannot bisect a parcel of land.
Resort Association Bylaws
The resort association proponent is required to develop the proposed bylaws that will provide the governance framework for the resort association. Proponents are encouraged to review bylaws and best practices from the other existing resort associations. The bylaws need to reflect the goals, scope and complexity of the resort association. Collaboration with the local government, property owners, First Nations and other stakeholders on the proposed bylaws for the resort association is a key part of the process.
Local Government Approvals
The resort association bylaws, and the resort promotion area must be submitted to the local government where the resort land is located. Local government support, in the form of a resolution passed by the municipal council or regional district board approving the establishment of the resort promotion area and the resort association bylaws, is necessary for the resort association proposal to proceed.
Petition of Property Owners
As part of the resort association establishment process, proponents must seek support of property owners within the proposed resort promotion area through a petition. The resort association proponent must create the petition and carry out the process.
The petition must be signed by at least 50 percent of the property owners representing at least 50 percent of the net taxable assessed value of the lands within the resort area. The petition must:
- Contain sufficient information to explain the purpose of the petition;
- Meet the requirements in section 212 of the Community Charter;
- Identify the resort land on a map;
- Have legal descriptions of land parcels included on the petition forms;
- Contain a question to be answered by the property owner asking if they are in favour of creating a resort association and paying the charges that it may levy.
Referencing the petitions to the legal descriptions on maps assists property owners in confirming their properties are within the resort promotion area. It can also assist the provincial government in confirming that a sufficient number of property owners, with sufficient amount of the total property assessment value, support the resort association.
The resort association proponent must submit the certified results of the petition, maps, proposed bylaws and council or board resolutions to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing for review. Before approving the creation of resort association, the Minister must be satisfied that all legislative requirements have been met:
- The area has (or has entered into an agreement to have) alpine ski lift operations and year-round recreational facilities, or is within a resort region;
- The local government for the proposed area has approved the resort promotion area proposal and the resort association bylaws; and
- A sufficient number of land owners have signed petitions in favour of creating the resort association.
One Minister's Order formally establishes the resort promotion area and a second Minister's Order formally establishes the resort land and creates the resort association. In addition, the Minister’s approval is also required for the resort association's initial set of bylaws. Copies of the signed Minister's Orders and approved bylaws are forwarded to the resort association proponent.
Establishment of the Resort Association
Following the approval of the Minister, the resort association comes into existence when the following documents are filed with BC Registries and Online Services:
- Minister's order establishing the resort promotion area;
- Resort association's first set of bylaws;
- List of the resort association's first set of directors; and
- Address of the resort association.
Ministry Advisory Role
When proponents are considering the creation of a resort association under the Resort Associations Act, staff at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing should be contacted early in the process. Ministry staff are available to provide guidance on the process to proponents who are developing a proposal for a new resort association, or to existing resort associations who may be considering a change to their existing bylaws.
Generally Ministry staff will advise proponents to research best practices, engage legal and policy experts for bylaw drafting, and undertake an open and collaborative process with potential members of the resort association, stakeholders and other community members.