Regional district corporate powers
In order for regional districts to operate effectively, they must be able to exercise certain fundamental powers to operate as a legal body and to interact with others.
Corporate powers in legislation
The Local Government Act provides for regional district corporate powers and the regional district board of director’s authority to:
- Make agreements including the undertaking, provision and operation of regional district services
- Make agreements respecting the operation and enforcement of regulatory powers in relation to the regional district board's exercise of its regulatory authority
- Provide assistance to citizens for the purpose of benefiting the community or any aspect of it
- Acquire, hold, manage or dispose of land, improvements, personal property or other property
- Delegate powers, duties and functions for specific purposes in accordance with the legislation
- Engage in commercial, industrial and business undertakings, including incorporating corporations
- Establish commissions for specific purposes
Regional districts also have specific authorities to undertake other functions that may be considered “corporate”, such as the power to hire and manage staff.
Limitations and requirements
While regional districts are recognized as an independent, accountable, and responsible order of government, the authority vested as corporate powers is limited by the Local Government Act and other applicable provincial statutes. The Local Government Act allows for broad interpretation when these powers are used in keeping with the purposes of regional districts.
Examples of limitations and requirements related to regional district corporate powers include the need to secure approval of the provincial Cabinet before entering into an out-of-province agreement or of the Inspector of Municipalities before establishing or acquiring a regional district-owned corporation.
Regional districts have legal standing to enter into agreements and may use agreements for many purposes. For example, they may:
- Contract a company to provide garbage collection
- Lease photocopiers and other equipment
- Obtain statutory right of ways for sewer lines located on private land
- Sign employment contracts with staff
A regional district may make a partnering agreement with an external entity (for example, a public authority, business, society or person) where the external entity agrees to provide a regional district service on the regional district's behalf.
Assistance is providing a grant, benefit, advantage or other form of assistance, including an exemption from a fee and, if specifically authorized, an exemption from property tax.
There are a variety of reasons why a regional district would provide assistance to an organization. For example, it might provide grants to theatre groups, galleries, or symphonies to encourage a vibrant arts community. It might also provide a tax exemption to a charitable organization that provides social relief to citizens in need (grants-in-aid). A regional district board must give advance notice of its intention to provide certain forms of assistance to a person or organization.
A regional district generally must not provide assistance to businesses. However, it may help to promote them through a business improvement area at a mountain resort or, if applicable, a resort association, where properties in a specified area contribute towards the improvement or promotion.
A regional district may provide certain property tax exemptions to businesses for example, a heritage revitalization tax exemption or a tax exemption under a partnering agreement, where the business contributes a public benefit.