General local elections

Publication date: March 1, 2018

General local elections in B.C. are held every four years on the third Saturday in October. The next general local elections will be held on October 17, 2026.

General local elections (and by-elections) are the most direct way for the public to influence their local government, school district or other local governance body by determining the individuals who then make decisions and govern on their behalf following general voting day.

General local elections include elections for municipal councils, regional district electoral areas, boards of education, specified parks boards, local community commissions and the Islands Trust.

During the election process, candidates generally outline their platforms and objectives if they were to be elected. By choosing the candidates with the ideals and qualities that are most acceptable to the electors, citizens can directly influence the nature of the community where they reside or own property.

Thinking of running for local office?

Serving your community can be a rewarding experience. There are many good reasons to run for office—you might run to be actively involved in the local decision-making process, contribute your experience and knowledge to the community, address issues or lead change in your community.

Running for local office

Residents of B.C. who are interested in running for office in general local elections must meet certain requirements to be nominated for and hold office if elected. In addition, how elected officials conduct themselves as individuals, and collectively as part of a decision-making body, is key to carrying out their responsibilities and providing good governance to their communities.

Provincial legislation sets out residency and nomination requirements, the nomination process, public access to nomination documents, how candidates run their election campaigns, as well as campaign financing and election advertising rules..

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Elections administration

The administration of general local elections and by-elections is a shared responsibility between local governments and Elections BC. Each local government is responsible for running its own general local election. Local governments may also run school trustee elections on behalf of boards of education.

Elections BC is responsible for the administration of the provincial electoral process in B.C. and the campaign financing and election advertising rules under the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act.

The B.C. government is responsible for the core local government system and its legislative framework including maintaining and changing the framework for local elections, by-elections and assent voting events.

Election participants

Electors (voters), candidates, financial agents, scrutineers, volunteers, third party sponsors, elector organizations, Chief Election Officers and Elections BC are the key participants in the local election process.

Election process

Local governments are required to follow a legislated process when conducting general local elections.

Voting in local elections

In B.C., residents and property owners who meet the voter eligibility requirements for a local jurisdiction can vote at an advance voting opportunity, on general voting day or by mail ballot voting if it is offered by the local government. There is no corporate or business vote in local elections.

Elector organizations & endorsements

Elector organizations endorse candidates and run election campaigns to promote a candidate, group of candidates or a point of view by endorsing candidates on the ballot or by advertising for or in conjunction with candidates. Elector organizations may be referred to as "civic political parties."

Elector organizations must meet membership requirements, register with Elections BC, appoint official representatives and are subject to campaign financing and election advertising rules under the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act.

Election offences

General local election offences fall into one of two categories: general election offences committed under the Local Government Act (or the Vancouver Charter for elections in the City of Vancouver); and, campaign financing and election advertising offences committed under the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act.

General election offences are usually investigated by law enforcement agencies while campaign financing and election advertising offences are managed by Elections BC.

By-Elections

By-elections in B.C. are held between general local elections to fill a vacancy on a municipal council or regional district board.

Local elections legislation

Thinking of running for local office?

Download Thinking of Running for Local Office Brochure (PDF)

Before making the decision to run for local office, it's important to think about how you can best serve your community if you are elected.

Contact information

Contact us if you have legislative questions about general local elections.

Victoria Office
250 387-4020
Toll Free
1 800 663-7867
Mailing
Governance and Structure Branch
PO BOX 9839 STN PROV GOVT
Victoria, BC
V8W 9T1