Improvement districts

Improvement districts are local authorities that provide specific services to landowners who have requested and pay for those services. Improvement districts vary in size from small subdivisions to larger communities and are generally located in rural areas of B.C.

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Improvement districts history and powers

Improvement districts are incorporated public local bodies governed by a board of elected trustees. Improvement districts provide services such as water and fire protection services (also known as "objects") for the benefit of landowners within their boundary.

Improvement districts are not the same as municipalities or regional districts, as improvement districts may only provide the services authorized in their letters patent.

Property acquisition and disposal

Improvement districts can acquire, hold, lease and sell land and other property in order to carry out their functions. Proceeds from the sale of land and improvements (infrastructure and assets) must be used for services (objects) the improvement district provides under its letters patent.

Improvement district governance

Improvement districts are governed by an elected board of trustees, one of whom has the additional duty of chair. Trustees are elected by the eligible landowners of the improvement district, normally for three-year, staggered terms.

Improvement district meetings

Improvement district boards of trustees hold regular board, annual general or special general meetings, depending on the business to be conducted.

Improvement district administration

An improvement district board of trustees can hire employees to manage the day-to-day operation and administration of the improvement district, provide support to the board and implement board decisions. Trustees must establish officer positions for corporate and financial administration.

Improvement district bylaws and resolutions

An improvement district board of trustees may exercise its powers by bylaw or by resolution. Decisions for some matters can only be exercised by bylaw, such as borrowing and establishing the basis of property assessment while others,such as adopting a strategic plan can be made by resolution.

Improvement district elections

Improvement district trustees are typically elected to staggered three-year terms to ensure continuity on the board of trustees and to pass on corporate knowledge to newly elected trustees. Clear election procedures are key to running fair and transparent improvement district elections.

Improvement district services

Improvement districts are incorporated under letters patent in order to provide one or more objects (services) to landowners of a community.

Improvement district finance

Improvement district boards of trustees are responsible for ensuring that their improvement districts meet the financial obligations necessary to provide service to property owners.

The board is authorized to levy taxes, tolls and other charges, to invest money, to borrow and to expend money.

Improvement district boundary changes and dissolutions

Improvement district restructure is the process for making governance, function, and boundary changes to improvement districts. The B.C. government does not generally create new improvement districts, add new service responsibilities or consider major boundary extensions where there is a local government willing and able to provide the service.

Infrastructure and planning grants

Regional districts and municipalities can apply on behalf of improvement districts for infrastructure planning and capital grants.

Improvement district support

In addition to oversight on certain bylaw approvals, the B.C. government advises improvement district boards of trustees and staff on matters such as:

  • Improvement district bylaws
  • Annual general meeting minutes
  • Financial statements
  • Facilitating changes to improvement district boundaries

The B.C. government also provides advisory materials and guides for improvement districts.