The BC Regional Experience


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From the Saskatoon Regional Growth Summit, Kelly Daniels

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The BC Regional Experience

  1. 1. Saskatoon Regional Growth Summit November 20-22, 2013 Follow: @YXERegion #yxesummit
  2. 2. What I will cover 1) Regional Government in British Columbia • Brief history • Key factors that make Regional Districts unique 2) Regional Growth Strategies/Plans • What the legislation says • What works and what doesn’t 3) The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Follow: @YXERegion #yxesummit
  3. 3. Regional Government in British Columbia – Brief History • Created in 1964 • 27 regional districts throughout province • Primary consideration for creation: – Province could no longer provide all services for rural areas – Concept of a “federation” of municipalities and rural areas that would reduce costs of service delivery through cooperation – Not create a fourth level of government • Major reviews in 1978 and 1986 with a broad review in 2001 each time resulting in more authority to regional districts Follow: @YXERegion #yxesummit
  4. 4. Key factors that make regional districts unique • Only mandatory services are: – land fill operations – rural emergency preparedness • Board makeup: – Rural directors are elected to Board – Municipal directors are appointed annually to the Board by their councils – The number of directors from a municipality is based on a population formula Follow: @YXERegion #yxesummit
  5. 5. Key factors that make regional districts unique - continued • Voting Structure: – Directors have up to five “weighted votes” depending on the population they represent – Corporate vote – most resolutions and general Board conduct – all Directors, one vote – Money matters – budget, borrowing, contracts etc. – all Directors, weighted vote – Stakeholder vote – management and operation of individual services – participants only, weighted vote Follow: @YXERegion #yxesummit
  6. 6. Key factors that make regional districts unique - continued • Establishing a service: – Services are created through an establishing bylaw – basically a partnership agreement between participating members – Bylaw must: • • • • Describe service Define boundary of who will receive and pay for the service Outline method of cost recovery State maximum amount to be requisitioned – It may: • Set out unique ways of apportioning costs (e.g. assessment, population, capacity, users, etc.) • Establish regulations Follow: @YXERegion #yxesummit
  7. 7. Regional Growth Strategy/Plans • What the legislation says: – Purpose: To promote human settlement that is socially, economically and environmentally healthy and that makes efficient use of public facilities and services, land and other resources – Legislation enables regional district to develop strategy – Regions can develop plans to meet local priorities – Plans must address key policy areas: • • • • • • • • Statement on the future of the region: triple bottom line Targets for greenhouse gas reductions Eco-systems, natural areas, parks Transportation Regional district services Population and employment projections Housing Economic development Follow: @YXERegion #yxesummit
  8. 8. Regional Growth Strategy/Plans Plans have varied degrees of success because: • most regions do not have transportation planning authority • Boards are often reluctant to uphold plans in the face of local politics when attractive development proposals contravene regional priorities Plans are valuable for: • Setting common regional land-use vision • Providing additional support for local community plans • Establishing regional priorities Follow: @YXERegion #yxesummit
  9. 9. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly • The Good: – Opportunity for cost saving and efficiencies in providing regional and sub-regional services – Opportunity for stronger regional voice on key community issues – Jurisdictions only participate in services they choose – Provides a forum to resolve regional disputes Follow: @YXERegion #yxesummit
  10. 10. The Bad • Public and media often don’t understand how regional districts work or the services they provide • Once you are in a service it is difficult to withdraw • Often seen as unaccountable as most elected representatives are appointed to the Board, not elected • Board representatives often don’t keep their councils informed, causing misunderstandings and distrust • Board members often have difficulty distinguishing between regional interests and municipal interests on key issues/votes Follow: @YXERegion #yxesummit
  11. 11. The Ugly • Often seen as dysfunctional because regional disputes are debated at the Board table • Loss of some municipal autonomy – some ugly power struggles can happen at Board • Political grandstanding at regional level to strengthen local profile – diverting blame to regional board • Some regions have a large municipality or heavy rural area that can dominate voting Follow: @YXERegion #yxesummit
  12. 12. While they aren’t perfect… “Regional districts do provide for inexpensive basic rural government, a political forum and administration for inter-municipal co-operation and regional governance.” - School of Public Administration (University of Victoria 1999) “Regional districts are viewed in Canadian, and increasingly in the US scholarly communities, as an excellent (if not the best) way to promote intermunicipal cooperation where there are mutual benefits.” – Robert Bish Follow: @YXERegion #yxesummit