Roles and Authorities




>> Regional Districts
>> Improvement Districts
>> Municipalities
>> Islands Trust
>> Local Government Assuming Approving Authority
>> Land Use Contracts


Regional Districts

The Local Government Act gives Regional Districts the authority to enact subdivision servicing and zoning bylaws.  Section 87 of the Land Title Act authorizes the Approving Officer to refuse a subdivision if it does not conform to these bylaws. A local government may regulate the provision of works and services in subdivisions by bylaw, including standards for highways pursuant to Section 506 of the Local Government Act. 

Improvement Districts

Improvement districts are autonomous local government bodies responsible for providing one or more local services for the benefit of the residents in a community. They vary considerably in size from small subdivisions to urban communities but are usually located in rural areas of the province where there has been no alternative form of local governance either available, suitable, or desirable for the community. In structure they are similar to a municipality but are more informal and only provide direct services such as waterworks, fire protection or street lighting rather than general governance.

There are approximately 260 improvement districts currently operating in the province. Your property tax notice will indicate if your property is within an improvement district.

Improvement District bylaws are created under Part 17 of the Local Government Act in the same manner that regional district bylaws are created.

Municipalities

When a subdivision is proposed for land outside but adjacent to a municipality, the Provincial Approving Officer may refer the application to the relevant municipality for comment, in order to consider cross-border aspects, such as road networks.

Islands Trust

The Islands Trust operates within the Ministry's South Coast Region (Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island Districts). The Trust Area is shown on the Trust Area Map. It includes:

  • All land, except Indian reserves, on all the islands that are darkened in the map
  • The water between these islands, within the boundaries shown on the map

The region is approximately 5178 square kilometers, or 2000 square miles, in size.

Mandate and Responsibilities

In 1974, the Government of British Columbia enacted special protective legislation entitled the Islands Trust Act. The Act states that the object of the Islands Trust is to “preserve and protect the trust area and its unique amenities and environment for the benefit of the residents of the trust area and of the Province generally.”

On April 1, 1990, the Act was amended to establish the Trust as an autonomous local government, with land use planning and regulatory authority similar to those of a Regional District. Broad authority for coordinating work with other agencies, organizations, and groups ensures that the objective of the Act is carried out.

Approving Officer: The Islands Trust may assume the rural subdivision approving authority under Section 77.1 of the Land Title Act and appoint an Approving Officer to rule on subdivisions within the islands under its jurisdiction.  As of Dec 31st, 2004, no Approving Officer has been hired.

For more information about the Islands Trust, see their website at www.islandstrust.bc.ca.

Local Government Assuming Approving Authority

Regional districts and the Islands Trust may request the subdivision approving authority, by council resolution of the local government. The authority and process for the appointment of regional district and islands Trust approving officers is set out in Section 77.1 of the Land Title Act. To date, there is no Regional District with approving authority.

Land-Use Contracts

Land-Use Contracts are similar to current Development Permits but are no longer created under the Local Government Act.  Existing contracts govern some subdivisions, however. The conditions in those contracts must be satisfied.

An order-in-council gives the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure or the local government jurisdiction over applications for removal or amendment of a Land-Use Contract.

This guide is a living document; it is subject to change without notice. Please check the Rural Subdivisions Website (http://www.th.gov.bc.ca/DA/Subdivision_Home.asp) to make sure you version is sufficiently current.