Regional district powers and services

Regional districts can exercise a range of corporate and regulatory powers provided through provincial legislation. Regional districts also provide a broad range of services to residents of municipalities, unincorporated (electoral) areas, and other areas (such as Treaty First Nation lands) through service arrangements.

In B.C., local governments have broad powers, and can provide services, enter into agreements and regulate people and their property. Corporate and service powers are similar for both municipalities and regional districts; however regional districts have more limited regulatory powers than municipalities.

Regional district corporate powers

Regional districts rely on corporate powers to enable them to perform many of their basic functions such as entering into agreements and owning property.

Regional district regulatory powers

Regional districts are granted specified powers to regulate, prohibit or impose requirements on certain activities that affect people and property, such as setting rules for garbage collection, regulating dogs or prohibiting certain land uses through zoning. Regional district regulatory powers typically cover a more limited range of activities than municipal regulatory powers.

Regional district delegation, committees and commissions

Building on its corporate powers, a regional district board of directors may delegate some of its powers, duties and functions to board members, regional district staff, committees or other bodies. There are certain limitations on delegation to ensure accountability to the public. Boards that have delegated decision-making may also specify in the delegation bylaw whether and how decisions of a delegate might be reconsidered by the board. Learn more about:

Regional district services

Like municipalities, regional districts have broad authority to operate any service that the board of directors considers necessary or desirable for all or part of the regional district. Regional districts may provide services to unincorporated rural communities, entire electoral areas, combinations of electoral areas, municipalities and Treaty First Nation members, if applicable, and in some cases to the entire regional district. Regional districts may also provide services outside the regional district under specified conditions.

Most regional district services are optional –- it is at the discretion of the regional district board as to how and to what area a service will be provided. A few services are required such as emergency planning (under Emergency Program Act) and capital financing for local governments (through their role under the Municipal Finance Act).

Some of the more common services provided by regional districts include:

  • Water supply
  • Sewers
  • Fire protection
  • Parks and recreation
  • Solid waste management
  • Economic development
  • Animal control
  • Public housing
  • Libraries
  • Emergency services
  • Airports

A regional district may operate a service directly, or enter into a contract with another public authority, individual or organization.

Service establishment

While municipal councils may establish a service by passing a resolution, regional district boards must typically describe a proposed service in an establishing bylaw and, in most circumstances, secure participating area approval to pay for the service. Establishing bylaws describe the service, define the service boundaries, identify the participants (which electoral areas or municipalities are included in the service), and indicate the method of cost recovery. Learn more about:

Service arrangements and service reviews

Regional district service arrangements are established to provide a structured framework for maintaining a service. Service arrangements describe how a service will be provided, which areas will participate in and pay for the service, and how the costs will be recovered. Learn more about:

If participants in a service are unhappy with the arrangements, a service review provides a formal process to help a regional district and its service partners review the terms and conditions of existing service arrangements.