Improvement district governance

Last updated on January 31, 2023

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.

Board of Trustees

Each improvement district is governed by three or more trustees who are collectively called the "board of trustees." Since each trustee, including the chair, has a single vote, their powers are exercised through collective decisions rather than individual actions. The improvement district's letters patent and the Local Government Act outline the powers that can be exercised by the board of trustees.

Trustees have several roles, including that of an elected representative, steward of a public service, policy-maker and law-maker. In these roles, trustees ensure that the improvement district's resources are used effectively and for the long-term benefit of landowners. This can involve balancing differing community interests, and must be undertaken in an accountable, transparent, ethical and collaborative manner that is respectful of the rules of law.

Trustees are not directly involved in the operation and administration of the public services for which they are responsible - that duty falls to their employees.

The Role of the Chair

At the first meeting of the board of trustees each year, or in the event of a vacancy, the board will select one of the trustees to serve as chair. The chair presides at board meetings, decides on points of order, co-signs meeting minutes and adopted bylaws, and sets the tone for meetings through their leadership style. The chair may also be selected by the board to represent the improvement district in meetings or to the media. As with the other trustees, the chair has one vote.

If the chair is absent, the board must select an acting chair from among themselves for the duration of the absence.

Bylaws and resolutions

An improvement district board of trustees can exercise its powers by a bylaw or by resolution, adopted at any legally convened meeting of the board by a majority vote of the trustees. Decisions for some matters may only be exercised by bylaw, such as borrowing and establishing the basis of property assessment while others, such as establishing an appropriate system of fiscal control, may be decided by resolution.

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.