Local government powers and services

Local governments have broad powers, and can provide services, enter into agreements and regulate people and their property. These activities can be done by the local government or through delegation and working with others. Services include activities, works and facilities provided to the community by or on behalf of the local government.

Under the Community Charter and Local Government Act, municipalities and regional districts have broad authority to provide services that their respective municipal councils or regional district boards consider necessary or desirable. Services may be varied both in size and type, for example, water and wastewater management, garbage disposal, recreational facilities or economic development.

These broad authorities are generally enabling, that is the local government choses to exercise an authority. In these cases, the authority is balanced with public accountability through rules and limitations on how the authority can be exercised. For example, some regulatory powers can only be exercised by bylaw.

Most powers are exercised directly by the local government. However, certain powers can be exercised indirectly through delegation or entering into agreements with other public authorities, community or private organizations, or personnel to deliver services. For example, day-to-day decisions in the operation of a service such as a park or recreational facility.

Most powers are exercised within the boundaries of a local government. Local governments can also exercise some powers outside their boundary, for example, issuing inter-municipal business licenses.

While both municipalities and regional districts have broad corporate and service powers, regional districts have more limited powers. For example, a regional district may only undertake business regulation and licensing with provincial approval.

Municipal powers and services

Municipalities can exercise a broad range of powers under provincial legislation that reflect their status as corporate bodies, governments and providers of public services.

Regional district powers and services

Regional districts can exercise a range of corporate and regulatory powers provided through provincial legislation. Corporate and service powers are similar for both municipalities and regional districts; however regional districts have more limited regulatory powers than municipalities.

Partnering agreements

Regional districts and municipalities have a range of options for providing local or regional services in partnership with another local government, private corporation, not-for-profit organization, First Nation or a public authority such as a school board.