Bill 25, the Miscellaneous Statutes (General) Amendment Act, 2016, was introduced in the legislature today by Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton.
If passed, the amendments will affect the following provincial statutes:
Agricultural Land Commission Act:
The Ministry of Agriculture is proposing two amendments to the Agriculture Land Commission Act (ALCA). The first supports the preservation of land in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) by requiring the ALC to obtain the owner’s consent before excluding land from the reserve in situations when the application is not from the landowner, such as when the ALC is conducting a boundary review.
The second amendment adds regulation-making authorities to the ALCA that will be used to provide clarity to farmers about hosting agri-tourism activities within the ALR, including weddings. The allowed circumstances and limits around events hosted within the ALR will be described in the regulation, which is expected this spring. These clarifications will not affect wineries, cideries and meaderies.
A proposed amendment to the Assessment Act will provide authority for the Lieutenant Governor in Council to prescribe, by regulation, assessed values for certain restricted-use properties. Restricted-use properties are generally located on provincial or federal Crown lands and the occupying businesses or corporations, such as BC Ferries and NavCan, provide a public service with some public funding. Prescribing assessed values for these properties will support a fair and consistent assessment system, predictable and stable property tax revenues, as well as Government’s stated policy that all property owners and taxable occupiers should pay their fair share of property taxes.
Protected Areas of B.C. Act:
A proposed boundary adjustment at Finn Creek Provincial Park is being done to enable Kinder Morgan Canada to continue planning its Trans Mountain Expansion Project. This proposed boundary adjustment would not be brought into force unless the project is approved by the National Energy Board, the Province is satisfied its five conditions have been met and the Province has issued an environmental assessment certificate for the project. Until such time, this boundary adjustment does not permit any form of construction of the proposed pipeline.
Environmental Management Act:
Proposed amendments to the Environmental Management Act will provide the minister with flexibility to update area-based management plans (ABMP) and improve permitting certainty within ABMPs. These amendments will provide more certainty for those looking to invest in B.C., while continuing to protect the environment and preserve the independence of statutory decision makers. ABMPs are already based on science, with technical input from experts, including statutory decision makers.
Income Tax Act:
Changes to the Income Tax Act reflect the outcome of several months of engagement with the film and television industry to address the rising cost of the province’s production services tax credit for film and television. The Province will provide a transitional period to recognize investments already planned.
A consequential amendment is proposed as a result of changes to the Mutual Fire Insurance Companies Act.
Liquor Control and Licensing Act:
Proposed amendments to the Liquor Control and Licensing Act are creating a new process to enable the general manager of the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch to reconsider liquor enforcement decisions. The grounds for reconsideration will be set out in the regulations and could include situations in which there is an error of law or a procedural error where principles of administrative fairness were not followed. The changes will allow licensees to have enforcement decisions reconsidered without having to apply to the court for judicial review. This legislation implements Liquor Policy Review recommendation No. 15 and provides an efficient and affordable review process for all liquor licensees.
Local Government Act:
In 2015, the Office of Legislative Counsel revised the Local Government Act under the Statute Revision Act. The Local Government Act is the largest act in the BC Statute book and there are hundreds of internal cross references. The revision separated the former Division 7 into four more readable divisions. However, a cross reference in section 498 was missed, which resulted in a contradiction. The proposed change removes the contradiction but will not change the legal effect of the provision.
Mutual Fire Insurance Companies Act:
The act will be modernized and streamlined to allow the Mutual Fire Insurance Company of B.C. – the only company incorporated under this act – to operate a subsidiary insurance company. The change will help encourage growth and business innovation.
Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing Act:
A proposed amendment to the 1979 Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing Act clarifies BC Housing’s authority to provide support services and to manage multi-purpose developments that include a housing component. When the act was passed 37 years ago, it defined housing as only land and buildings. Over time, BC Housing’s role has evolved and providing support services is now an important part of providing housing to those in need. The amendment also allows BC Housing to oversee multi-purpose developments that include both housing and non-housing components.