- A growing community may need to extend its boundaries to support new residential development or to accommodate industrial/commercial growth, whether at the request of the municipality or the property owner(s).
- A key consideration is whether a majority of those within an area proposed for inclusion within a municipal boundary are satisfied with the proposed extension.
- Boundary changes can have a significant effect on a municipality. The Local Government Act allows the municipal council to request a boundary extension only with the approval of its electors.
- Municipalities and regional districts provide local government in British Columbia. Most communities are located within either a municipality or electoral area.
- Government creates municipalities with the consent of a majority of the community. Changes in municipal boundaries occur on a similar basis.
- Approval from electors can be obtained directly through a referendum or an alternative approval process. With a referendum, council requires greater than 50% (+1) electoral approval to proceed. An alternative approval process provides an opportunity to petition for a referendum. If it receives less than 10% support, council does not have to hold a referendum and can proceed with confidence with the boundary change request.
- Boundary extensions involve many parties: the municipality, property owners and residents in the extension area, the regional district and neighbouring municipalities, government ministries/agencies and First Nations.
- There are five steps for developing, processing and approving a municipal boundary extension:
- Preliminary proposal development and local referrals – Council gives conceptual approval on development of a proposal. Municipal staff guide the proposal from concept to specifics, seeking input from property owners, the regional district, service agencies and area First Nations.
- Ministry preliminary review and provincial referrals – For submission to the ministry, the municipality collects the outcome of its process into a coherent package that includes maps; rationale for proposal including land use implications; copies of communications with property owners, local governments, First Nations; and other relevant information. The ministry considers this information and prepares an administrative report that provides the local government with feedback, which may include or be followed by referrals to other provincial ministries.
- Formal proposal/request – Once the proposal is substantially complete (i.e. provincial requirements have been met), the municipality may seek approval of its electors through a referendum or an alternative approval process. Once elector approval is obtained, council adopts a resolution to request the boundary change, declares that the statutory requirements are met and provides the results of the elector approval process to the ministry.
- Provincial approval – The ministry prepares Letters Patent, describing the properties being included and provides for the transfer of services from the regional district/improvement district to the municipality. The Letters Patent are considered and may be enacted by Cabinet upon recommendation by the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.
- Implementation – When the Letters Patent are approved, the ministry notifies the municipality, the regional district and other ministries and agencies, such as BC Assessment, that the boundary has been extended. The municipality and service providers arrange for the orderly transition of services. The municipality becomes the local tax collector in the next taxation year.
British Columbia News
FACTSHEET: Municipal boundary extensions
Thursday, March 9, 2017 12:00 AM