Open Collections

UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Regional district renewal : reforming regional government in British Columbia Gawronski, Christopher Joseph 1999

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Item Metadata


831-ubc_2000-0070.pdf [ 4.06MB ]
JSON: 831-1.0089408.json
JSON-LD: 831-1.0089408-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 831-1.0089408-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 831-1.0089408-rdf.json
Turtle: 831-1.0089408-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 831-1.0089408-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 831-1.0089408-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

R E G I O N A L D I S T R I C T R E N E W A L : R E F O R M I N G R E G I O N A L G O V E R N M E N T I N B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A by C H R I S T O P H E R J O S E P H G A W R O N S K I B . A . , University of Toledo, 1994 A THESIS S U B M I T T E D I N P A R T I A L F U L F I L M E N T O F T H E R E Q U I R E M E N T S F O R T H E D E G R E E O F M A S T E R O F A R T S ( P L A N N I N G ) in T H E F A C U L T Y O F G R A D U A T E S T U D I E S (School of Community and Regional Planning) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard) T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A November 1999 © Christopher Joseph Gawronski, 1999 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department o f WTTMOOL. 6P CowKudrTy /Ufo Qa-,,^\Ai Pu^Atyd The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada DE-6 (2/88) Abstract Governance and planning are inextricably linked. To have good planning there must be an appropriate governance structure in place. Regional districts have been praised by many, but their ability to carry out good planning is hampered by the nature of their structure and powers. The ongoing Municipal Act Reform Initiative provides an excellent opportunity to review regional districts and consider improvements to their structures and powers. The 35-year history of regional districts explains the current arrangement of their structures and powers. A re-evaluation of the needs of B.C. in 1965 confirms that those needs continue to be valid and regional districts should continue to address them. However, many new needs and concerns, such as sustainability, global economic restructuring, and the rural-urban interface, require attention. The regional districts of today are ill-equipped to handle new and emerging needs - especially those of a regional nature. Regional districts need a renewed regional focus. This can be accomplished with a moderately restructured board including a regionally-elected chair. Further, municipalities and the province alike must recognize the need for certain issues to be regionally. To ade-quately address regional needs, the specific regional responsibilities must be identified, and powers must be granted that are broad enough to tackle the regional responsibilities. Be-cause the granting of broad powers may be overwhelming to many less-sophisticated mu-nicipalities and regional districts, the province should provide an option for local govern-ments to stick with the current system of express powers or to use the grant of broad powers. Table of Contents Abstract ii Table of Contents iii List of Figures v Chapter 1 : Preliminaries 1 1.1. CONTEXT 1 1.2. PROBLEM STATEMENT 2 1.3. RESEARCH QUESTIONS 4 1.4. APPROACH AND METHODS 4 1.5. STRUCTURE OF THE THESIS 5 Chapter 2 : A Regional District Primer - History and Purpose 6 2.1. BACKGROUND 6 2.2. T H E VISION (1965) 7 2.3. T H E REGIONAL DISTRICT REVIEW COMMITTEE (1978) 11 2.4. T H E MINISTRY'S RESPONSE (1979) 13 2.5. T H E SPETIFORE AFFAIR (1983) 14 2.6. T H E REGIONAL DISTRICT SURVEY COMMITTEE (1986) 15 2.7. REGIONAL GROWTH STRATEGIES (1995) 16 2.8. MUNICIPAL A C T REFORM INITIATIVE (1997) 17 2.9. SUMMARY 18 Chapter 3 : Determining Needs 20 3.1. VALIDITY OF PRIOR NEEDS 20 3.1.1. Rural Areas 20 3.1.2. Intermunicipal Services 22 3.1.3. Regional Voice 24 3.2. IDENTIFICATION OF NEW AND FUTURE NEEDS 25 3.2.1. Reconsidering the Rural-Urban Split 25 3.2.2. Ecology and Sustainability 26 3.2.3. Economics 27 3.2.4. Good Government 27 3.2.5. Protocol of Recognition 29 3.3. SUMMARY OF NEEDS 30 Chapter 4 : Alternatives for Meeting Needs 31 4.1. REPRESENTATION 31 4.1.1. Electoral System 32 4.1.2. Number of Representatives 35 4.1.3. Administration vs. Policy-Making 35 4.1.4. Direct Democracy 36 4.2. POWERS 37 4.2.1. Territory 37 IV 4.2.2. Autonomy 38 4.2.3. Granting Powers 40 4.3. S U M M A R Y 44 Chapter 5 : Recommendations 45 5.1. S T R U C T U R A L R E F O R M S 45 5.1.1. Rural Representation 46 5.1.2. Regional Perspective 47 5.2. POWERS 49 5.2.1. Rural and Intermunicipal Powers 50 5.2.2. Regional Powers 50 Chapter 6 : Post Mortem 54 6.1. S U M M A R Y 54 6.2. R E C O M M E N D A T I O N S 54 6.3. P O T E N T I A L FOR C H A N G E 55 6.4. F U R T H E R R E S E A R C H 56 Notes 58 Bibliography 61 Appendix 65 V List of Figures FIGURE 2-1: REGIONAL DISTRICTS IN 1999 WITH INCORPORATION DATES 9 FIGURE 2-2: SUMMARY OF SIGNIFICANT RDRC RECOMMENDATIONS 12 FIGURE 2-3: SIGNIFICANT RDSC RECOMMENDATIONS 15 FIGURE 4-1: OPTIONS FOR GRANTING PROVINCIAL POWER 43 FIGURE 4-2: SUMMARY OF ALTERNATIVES 44 1 Chapter 1: Preliminaries 1.1. CONTEXT Planning is a multifaceted profession. It can be combined with almost any other dis-cipline to develop such specialties as social planning, site planning, regional planning, heri-tage planning, strategic planning, infrastructure planning, environmental planning, and so on. Regardless of the planning specialty in question, they all have one thing in common: plan-ning is a political activity. Whether within a private company or at a city hall, planning in-volves the coordination of people and resources, the examination of problems, identification of alternatives and the development and execution of courses of action.1 In every case, trade-offs are made, costs and benefits are realized, and there may be both winners and losers in the short, medium and long terms. As with all political activities, planning takes place within a certain forum. The fo-rum has a structure and procedures that dictate the way in which planning can take place -who will be involved and how; what decisions will be made, by whom and when? For ex-ample, a city might have a planning commission that determines the reason for undertaking a planning exercise and initiates the process. Then the city council might be responsible for approving a method of consultation, a timeframe for the planning project, and ultimately a final plan for implementation. This structure, the decision-makers involved, and the way in which the decision-makers are chosen all have an impact on the decisions that are made. It is evident, then, that the forum dictates how all political activities, including planning, are car-ried out. Therefore, the nature of the forum, and any alterations thereto, will impact the op-eration and outcome of any planning activity undertaken within it. In the public sector, another way of thinking of the forum is as a structure of govern-ance or a government. Since the forum in which planning occurs can have a large impact on the planning process and product, and public sector planning takes place within the forum of a government or governance structure, the periodic examination of governance and govern-mental arrangements is critical to effective planning. Regional districts are the regional governance structure in British Columbia. It is im-portant to note that governance is distinct from government. Governance is "ideally charac-terized by partnerships, strong leadership, and innovative intergovernmental arrangements, 2 and [in the case of a region] by a broad umbrella body that has the capacity to view matters from a [regional] perspective, and to act in the [regional] interest." On the other side, Oberlander and Smith define a government as having the following five characteristics: rep-resentation, revenue raising capacity, autonomy, legal authority, and the capacity to coordi-nate.3 Regional districts are unique in several ways. They are unlike any other regular gov-ernment arrangement in Canada. In fact the internal structure of regional districts varies from one to the next depending on population and the number of local jurisdictions. Also, regional districts are very young in B.C. - only 35 years old. However, it has been 35 years of reviews, adjustments, fights and collaborations - never a dull moment. Because regional planning issues have become increasingly important in British Columbia in recent decades, the governance of regions is increasingly important to planning. 1.2. PROBLEM STATEMENT The regional districts of British Columbia have been touted by outsiders, and many within the province as well, as a unique, adaptable, and practical form of governance.4 Re-searchers and other provinces have often pointed to B.C. as a leader in the development of workable regional structures of democracy and service delivery. However, many British Columbians continue to be divided about the proper role of regional districts in the governing of the province. Some critics have charged that regional districts have failed to provide even the most basic, accountable representation at either the rural or regional level, and it is ques-tionable whether their governing bodies are capable of sustained activities benefiting the re-gions at large. Regional districts are probably the least understood form of governance in British Columbia.5 A general lack of understanding on the part of the public is related to the rela-tively low visibility of regional districts. This, in turn, results from their indirect public ac-countability as compared with municipalities and other forms of local government and an absence of effort to draw attention to their existence. Regional government and planning have had a difficult time in British Columbia. In March 1999 a study done for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs provided some intriguing in-formation about regional districts from the perspective of planners and administrators. The study, Tools of the Trade, asked regional districts to identify the planning tools they used, 3 discuss their effectiveness6 and comment on the overall system of planning in B.C. The study revealed that current planning activities in regional districts are not as common or ef-fective as in municipalities across the province. The lack of effective planning activities may be accounted for by the hands-off attitude rural residents have about the role of government. However, what is of particular concern is that where regional districts, and their citizens, have undertaken planning activities they generally have been less effective than municipali-ties. This raises significant concerns about the current situation of regional districts since planning activities are essential to all of their functional responsibilities (rural, inter-municipal, and regional servicing and coordination). The biggest potential problem facing British Columbia today is the handling of re-gional issues at an inappropriate level of government. Environmental, social and economic issues are handled by municipalities and the provincial government. However, as develop-ment spreads across the province, urban areas grow, and the economy becomes more global-ized, it is hard to understand why government management of these issues has not changed as much as the issues themselves. Major aspects of these three issues are best understood at a regional level. With the impact of human activities reaching far beyond their immediate area, municipalities are poorly structured to cope due to their constrained boundaries and fo-cus on providing hard services. At the other end, the province is too large and diverse to adequately address the unique needs and problems of its various regions. If the problem is potentially so bad, then why has there not been an outcry for better government? It seems to be a law of society that significant changes do not occur until there is a crisis. Yet it is not responsible for government to ignore the potential problems even when there is no public outcry. It is better to plan ahead than to govern by crisis. Indeed, according to former Municipal Affairs Minister Dan Campbell, the creation of regional dis-tricts themselves was a response to a clear public need rather than a publicly expressed de-sire. Therefore, there is precedent in British Columbia for recognizing shortcomings in government and addressing them with or without public recognition of the shortcomings. With this in mind, the ongoing Municipal Act Reform Initiative and its reconsideration of the role of local government presents an opportune time to review regional districts to determine 4 their proper form and function within British Columbia's present system of local govern-ment. 1.3. RESEARCH QUESTIONS To properly examine the governance structure of regions, the background of regional governance must be explored to understand why the current structure is in place. Then, it must be determined if the original reasons for establishing regional governance are still valid and if any new situations have arisen that should be reflected in regional governance. Fi-nally, consideration must be given to how a governance structure can appropriately respond to the province's regional needs. There are three main questions that will be explored: 1. Why were regional districts created? 2. Are they still needed? 3. If so, what form and function should they have? 1.4. APPROACH AND METHODS The purpose of this thesis generally is to inform the review of regional districts that is currently being undertaken by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs as part of the Municipal Act Reform Initiative. Many parts of the Municipal Act have already been reviewed, and changes have been made to many of the powers common to both regional districts and municipalities. The next stage of the Initiative involves a re-examination of the part of the Act that pertains to the structural and operational details of regional districts only. In provinces across Canada, local government reform has been an ongoing process for the last four decades, however the approaches have been quite different. In some cases, radical reform was the preferred method, in others a more gradual approach was taken.8 British Columbia has followed the latter course. This research recognizes the tradition of incrementalism in British Columbia local government reform. However, the current Munici-pal Act overhaul has created an environment of change that might welcome more compre-hensive reforms than would normally be considered by both the provincial and local gov-ernments. Therefore, the approach of this thesis is to review regional governance needs and present alternatives and recommendations ranging from fine-tuning adjustments to funda-mental change. Even if political tradition has been to shy away from aggressive changes, it must be recognized that such changes may be necessary from time to time and the present atmosphere of openness to potentially greater change should be used as fully as possible. 5 The methods utilized for this research build a qualitative analysis of the subject mat-ter. The bulk of the research consisted of an extensive review of available literature in the areas of rural planning, regional government and governance structures, local government theory, and B.C. local government history. A special examination was made of the statutory and other legal instruments affecting the structure and operation of local government in B.C. Some primary information was gathered through interviews. One interview was con-ducted with a researcher in the field of B.C. government and politics. The information gath-ered from this source supplemented the background research on regional districts and con-tained thoughts on potential and appropriate changes for regional district government. Other interviews were conducted with a planner or administrator from three regional districts across the province. The regional districts were selected to represent a variety of location, geogra-phy, and planning activities. The interviewees were asked to explain their day-to-day plan-ning operations and comment on the problems and strengths of regional districts (see Appen-dix). 1.5. STRUCTURE OF THE THESIS This first chapter has provided a brief introduction to the topic and laid out the pur-pose of the study. Chapter 2 describes the history of regional districts and tracks their pur-pose as it has changed over the years. Chapter 3 looks at British Columbia's needs as they relate to regional governance and planning by reviewing experiences from the perspective of regional district planners and administrators and examining relevant regional government literature. Chapter 4 discusses possible alternatives to the present regional district arrange-ment through consideration of regional government experiences from outside B.C. and theo-ries of local government. The possible application of lessons gleaned from this research is laid out in Chapter 5. The conclusion in Chapter 6 summarizes the findings and recommen-dations of this study, considers the potential for reform in British Columbia, and recognizes issues deserving further research. 6 Chapter 2: A Regional District Primer - History and Purpose "Regional Districts were not conceived as a fourth level of government." - B.C. Depart-ment of Municipal Affairs (1971) The first step in re-examining regional districts must be to understand why they were created in the first place. Why were they needed? The historical background and develop-ment of regional districts provides an explanation. There were certain clear purposes of re-gional districts stated explicitly during their creation. Changing situations caused issues to arise surrounding the structure and function of regional districts prompting various parties to propose changes. This chapter traces the historical development of regional districts. 2.1. BACKGROUND Throughout most of its history as a province, British Columbia has had one kind of general purpose local government - the municipality. Regardless of how municipalities have been named (e.g. cities, districts, villages, corporations), they have all encompassed a settled, community area and, in some cases, surrounding undeveloped areas. From the beginning, municipalities in British Columbia have been seen primarily as providers of services, espe-cially "hard" services such as water, sewer, pest control, parks, and roads. The then-Department of Municipal Affairs described this philosophy well in 1966: When people begin to congregate in one locality they soon discover that there are some needs which can only be satisfactorily met by collective or group action. Obviously these needs will vary from locality to locality and it is the purpose of local government to be the institution or machinery by which the citizens of an area can collectively arrange to obtain whatever services are necessary in accordance with their needs.9 (stress added) The history of regional districts grows out of the need for services to be provided be-yond municipal borders and therefore follows the pattern of local government as service pro-vider.10 Early in the twentieth century, special districts (also known as improvement dis-tricts) began to be established to provide joint services - locally coordinated services to mul-tiple municipalities as well as unincorporated areas. Special districts were created for sewage and drainage, water provision, health and hospital services, and parks. Examples of special districts could (and still can) be found around the province, but they were most prevalent by far in the Vancouver area. 7 After the Second World War, both Canada and the United States experienced an ex-plosion of urban population and development that spilled across municipal boundaries and increased car travel. Most cities were ill-equipped to handle the situation because of limited financial resources.11 The result was that special districts which provided just one, or some-times a few, specified services were being set up to handle more and more services to more 12 and more municipalities and even some unincorporated areas. This created interest in a more multi-purpose structure to handle "regional" issues. In the 1940s, the province allowed for the creation of regional planning bodies, but it was not until 1957 when a multi-purpose regional government was first formally attempted in British Columbia. At that time, Mr. Hugo Ray formed a task force along with a number of faculty mem-bers from the University of British Columbia to explore the concept of metropolitan govern-ment for the Vancouver area and produce a report for the province. Provincial legislation from 1957 provided for the task force and empowered the Minister of Municipal Affairs to direct that a referendum be held based upon the report. The report was completed in 1960, but no action was taken. Apparently, public apathy toward the proposal was deafening and municipalities were completely disinterested as they had not been participants nor were they even consulted. 2.2. THE VISION (1965) In spite of this failure, there was interest within the provincial Department of Munici-pal Affairs in creating a regional structure for Vancouver, but one that was politically non-threatening. There were several perceived problems that a regional governance structure was intended to address. First of all, the continual creation of special districts was seen as waste-ful of taxpayer money because of potentially uncoordinated services and duplicative bureauc-racy. Also, rural services provided by the provincial government were problematic politi-cally and costly administratively. The general notion of "regionalism" was promoted too as a means of encouraging municipalities to work together toward common goals. As a result, publications from Municipal Affairs describing the early development of regional districts clearly identify three distinct facets of regional district responsibility: intermunicipal, rural and regional. 8 The intermunicipal nature of regional district functions was the most clearly articu-lated. Because "restricted municipal boundaries made it difficult and often inefficient to pro-vide many services on the scale required by the community as a whole,"14 regional districts were structured as a federation of localities that could be used to address common problems. "Such an organization obviously is designed to preserve the local unit as the main operating , unit of local government and yet enable a group of these to provide a common facility on a shared basis"15 without the need for setting up special districts for every cross-boundary is-sue. The local units (municipalities and newly delineated "electoral areas" in unincorporated areas) were therefore the direct constituents of the regional districts. From the perspective of rural services, regional districts were a means of freeing Victoria from the burden of providing services to various unincorporated rural areas - serv-ices that were sometimes not coordinated among provincial ministries and often difficult to provide for geographic reasons. In addition, there were also plenty of examples of poor de-velopment and lack of planning outside of municipalities. Rees and Karlsen described the situation as follows: [U]ntil 1965 services to rural areas in B.C. (water and sewer systems, hospi-tals, etc.) were provided by a variety of special purpose boards, and land man-agement functions were carried out on a piecemeal basis by provincial gov-ernment departments. Many of these special purpose agencies were not re-sponsible (through election by the public) to areas they served and they often operated on the basis of inadequate or inequitable funding.16 The stated rural aim of regional districts was therefore two-fold. One was to reduce direct provincial service provision to rural areas by providing more democracy and self-government to rural areas since "there were no established elected bodies to speak for the people not within a municipality."17 The second was to introduce planning into the vast, non-municipal reaches of the province that were beginning to see accelerating development. Regionally, the creation of regional districts was expected to foster more regional identity and considerations across the province. But the raising of regional awareness was not just for internal matters, it was also to create a more formalized relationship among re-gions and between the regions and the provincial government: "it is inherent in the structure that the Regional [District] Boards become the regional presence or voice in the over-all 18 scheme of governmental decision-making in matters relating to the region as a whole." 9 A new Minister, Mr. Dan Campbell, acquired the local government portfolio in 1964 and he quickly became a champion of the new regional vision. The specific policy had been 1. Alberni-Clayoquot 21 Apr 66 15. Greater Vancouver 29 Jun 67 2. Bulkley-Nechako 1 Feb 66 16. Kitimat-Stikine 14 Sep 67 3. Capital 1 Feb 66 17. Kootenay Boundary 22 Feb 66 4. Cariboo 9 Jul 68 18. Mount Waddington 13 Jun 66 5. Central Coast 16 Jul 68 19. Nanaimo 24 Aug 67 6. Central Kootenay 30 Nov 65 20. North Okanagan 9 Nov 65 7. Central Okanagan 24 Aug 67 21. Okanagan-Similkameen 4 Mar 66 8. Columbia Shuswap 30 Nov 65 22. Peace River 31 Oct 87 9. Comox-Strathcona 19 Aug 65 23. Powell River 19 Dec 67 10. Cowichan Valley 26 Sep 67 24. Skeena-Queen Charlotte 17 Aug 67 11. East Kootenay 30 Nov 65 25. Squamish-Lillooet 3 Oct 68 12. Fort Nelson-Liard 31 Oct 87 26. Stikine (unorganized) 13. Fraser-Ft. George 8 Mar 67 27. Sunshine Coast 4 Jan 67 14. Fraser Valley 12 Dec 95 28. Thompson-Nicola 24 Nov 67 (Source: Municipal Statistics. Victoria: Ministry of Municipal Affairs, 1994.) 10 nurtured and promoted by Deputy Minister Everett Brown and proposed to create a system of regional governance not just for Greater Vancouver but for the whole province. Since the creation of a new type of local governmental entity was likely to raise concerns and opposi-tion among municipal officials it must be understood that the term "government" was en-tirely avoided - in fact it was emphatically denied that the new entities were governments at all.19 The new form of governance began with only one province-wide mandate, regional planning, to which was added hospital construction in 1967. A new Municipal Act was enacted in 1965 authorizing the creation of regional dis-tricts by Letters Patent issued by the Lt.-Governor in Council. From their modest beginning, regional districts were expected to acquire powers as needed by agreement of the members of the board. When a regional district board decided upon a service that it should provide, it petitioned the Minister who could recommend to Cabinet that the power be granted in. The first regional district, Comox-Strathcona, was created shortly after the legislation passed and included most of the minister's own riding. Over the next several years, 28 re-gional districts were created across the province not counting the region of Stikirie in the northwest corner of the province which is not formally incorporated or operational. Figure 2-1 shows the various regional districts existing today and when they were created. It is important to note that in the published reports of the Department of Municipal Affairs there is no reference to theories of regional governance or regional models elsewhere. If such studies were undertaken to help inform B.C.'s new regional policy, it seems that mention of them was studiously avoided. The most credit given to the experience of other jurisdictions (e.g. Ontario) was that B.C. was not like them and therefore B.C.'s solutions would have to be unique. Even so, experiences with special purpose districts seem to have impacted Minister Campbell's approach of discrediting those bodies in favor of general pur-pose regional entities.20 In spite of exhortations that regional districts were not governments, by the early 1970s, once all regional districts were created, they were commonly being referred to as gov-ernments: "The [regional district] boards... were conceived to provide a form of government at the regional level to co-ordinate municipal and non-municipal services."21 Even former Minister Campbell used the term and later insisted it was only a matter of semantics anyway: "[i]t is fair to say that what title is conferred upon a local system of governance is to no con-11 sequence. What such an instrument of governance does and how its technical machinery is 22 designed to carry out its authority and responsibilities is all that matters." As anticipated, the new "governments" were evolving differently across the province in response to unique situations. The success of various regional districts varied greatly, however. While the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD; originally called the Regional District of Fraser-Burrard) was able to absorb pre-existing regional functions from special-purpose agencies, many rural regional districts lacked direction from their boards. In short, the primary role of regional districts, as envisioned by Municipal Affairs at the time of their inception, was to be a vehicle for intermunicipal cooperation, rural area rep-resentation and servicing, and regional planning. However, according to an oft-quoted statement from the Department, regional districts "were not conceived as a fourth level of 23 government, but as a functional rather than a political amalgamation." 2.3. T H E REGIONAL DISTRICT REVIEW COMMITTEE (1978) With the defeat of the Social Credit government in 1972, Dan Campbell ceased to be Minister of Municipal Affairs. Regional districts, still less than ten years old, were not a pri-ority for the new provincial government and were largely left to handle their own affairs. By the time of the 1975 election, many regional districts were being subjected to fierce criticism by municipalities and the public for a variety of reasons. In fact, some regional districts were not completely sure of their own purpose by the time a provincial review was initiated in 1977 to "examine the jurisdictional role of regional districts, including an examination of present and future functions and responsibilities."24 The Regional District Review Committee (RDRC) began an examination of regional districts in late 1977. The Committee was appointed by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and had five members with extensive local government experience. It held 41 hearings in 26 communities from 12 December 1977 to 30 May 1978. Over the course of the study it ac-25 cepted 366 briefs, 27 supplementary submissions and 150 pieces of correspondence. All regional districts submitted briefs to the committee, but less than half (only 65 of 140) of the province's municipalities provided formal written input. The RDRC also examined what it termed "regional type governments" in other jurisdictions: various Canadian provinces, the United States, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand.26 12 The committee was generally impressed with the development of regional districts over the preceding decade. Overall, it felt the established system had worked reasonably well. "It ha[d] provided a measure of local government for rural areas and a means of co-operation for provision of joint services."27 However, as the volume of submissions might indicate, not everyone agreed about many aspects of regional districts. The various interest groups identified by the committee (the public, municipalities, provincial ministries, resource industries, and regional districts themselves) often had different opinions about the appropri-ate role of regional districts in various activities. Without excluding anyone from the blame associated with regional district shortcomings, the committee summarized its thoughts as follows: Some major problems stem from a general lack of commitment to the regional district concept by the Provincial Government over the years, a lack of sup-port from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, a lack of co-operation by other ministries and their field agencies, a lack of specific re-sponsibilities set out for regional government, a lack of understanding by the general public and, unfortunately, in come cases by poor performance on the part of regional districts.28 Contained within the report of the 1978 re-view came recommenda-tions that would have clari-fied and strengthened the purpose of regional dis-tricts (see Figure 2-2). Although the Review Committee applauded the service-providing capabil-ity of regional districts, the review was greatly con-cerned about the lack of a defined regional role. "If the regional districts are to i definition of their local and regional roles." Figure 2-2: Summary of significant RDRC recommendations 1. Creation of electoral area commissions (elected local advisory bodies) and elimination of Advisory Planning Commissions. 2. Compulsory incorporation or annexation of unincorporated devel-oped areas when certain statutory criteria are met. 3. Provide mandatory and permissive powers to regional districts statutorily. 4. Ministerial approval of regional plans accompanied by power to adopt land use bylaws without approval once regional plan ac-cepted. 5. Single planning board for Lower Mainland (Lower Fraser Valley and delta) 6. At-large regional election of Chairman of regional district boards. 7. Municipal representation by directly elected directors and mayors. 8. Adjustment of regional district boundaries and creation of two provincially-administered areas where populations are small and dispersed. 9. Adjustment of the weighted vote system on regional district boards. )ntinue to assume.. .varied responsibilities, there must be a clear 13 In all, the committee proposed 52 recommendations to improve the operation of re-gional districts and their relationships with municipalities and the province. The Committee proposed to make regional districts more independent and regional instead of just a collec-tion of localities. The recommendations were based on a view (quite different from Minister Campbell's premise of a decade earlier) that regional districts should be recognized "as a 30 level of government with statutory powers." 2.4. THE MINISTRY'S RESPONSE (1979) After the committee's report was released, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs re-sponded with a discussion paper on regional government reform in B.C. The paper briefly outlined the work and findings of the committee and proposed a set of six principles to use in evaluating any reform proposal (accessibility, accountability, adequacy of services, effi-ciency, rational land use planning and simplicity). The principles were then applied to three reform proposals identified by the Ministry: abolition of regional governments, retention of the existing regional district system, creation of a new regional government system with counties as the regional units. Interestingly, in almost every case, abolition of regional governments rated poorly against the principles, regional districts were rated "fair" and the new county proposal was rated "good." In its discussion of the county option, the paper identifies several key areas of responsibility for the county: 1. Rural representation 2. Rural service delivery 3. Joint/inter-municipal services 4. Settlement planning 5. Regional planning if delegated by the province, otherwise this function would be re-tained by the province (emphasis added)31 These, apparently, constitute the purpose of regional government as seen by Municipal Af-fairs at the time. The Ministry's favoring of a county concept helps explain the "neglect" experienced by regional districts as mentioned in the 1978 review. A number of other changes associated with the county plan were also put forward. New structures and procedures such as rural committees, fringe development committees, a land use appeal system, and "progressive status elevation" for the eventual municipalization of unincorporated, high-growth areas, were all potentially useful with or without the pro-14 posed county structure. They were intended to be provincial directives to help enhance rural representation and control extra-municipal development. The RDRC report and the Ministry's response demonstrated the divergent opinions about regional government at the time. Both accepted the usefulness of inter-municipal structures to handle joint services. Both also believed rural representation was important. However, a great departure occurred regarding the appropriate scale and planning powers of regional government. The Review Committee believed regions needed to be sufficiently large to actually encompass a natural region and that some existing boundaries should be modestly adjusted to provide more consistency with natural features and other boundaries (e.g. school districts, resource management areas). The Ministry, by contrast, proposed making counties that would be significantly smaller than the existing regional districts. This was apparently an effort to bring this level of government closer to the people, there being complaints about the "distant" decision making in geographically large regional districts. The Ministry's proposal also included aligning county boundaries with school districts and maintaining hospital functions within them so as to consolidate several governmental func-tions into one structure. Regarding planning powers, the RDRC clearly felt regional districts should have their planning authority expanded to allow it to create or maintain more of a regional focus. The proposal by the Ministry for the provincial government to assume the "burdensome task"32 of regional planning is an interesting and distinct departure from both the Review Committee's recommendations and the original function of regional districts. While no significant changes resulted from either document, the Ministry's response was a harbinger of things to come. 2.5. THE SPETIFORE AFFAIR (1983) Since their creation, each regional district had regional planning as a power, and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs at first encouraged its use. At the time of the RDRC report, some municipalities were beginning to chafe under the requirement to have municipal plans comply with regional plans. Also, some rural areas were objecting to planning that they did not want. They felt that plans were being imposed on rural residents by the municipal inter-ests on regional district boards. These sentiments had been noted in the RDRC's 1978 re-port. Unfortunately, despite examples of successful cooperative planning the issue of re-15 gional-municipal planning conflict continued to build in the provincial political conscious-ness. In 1983, members of the provincial government ended up as personally interested parties in a regional district development approval dispute. The dispute involved a farm that came to be known as the Spetifore Lands; the farm was owned by a Mr. Spetifore who had made campaign contributions to the provincial party in power. This particular piece of land was in the Greater Vancouver Regional District which refused to allow the development as it conflicted with regional planning goals. This situation outraged the legislators and prompted the abolition of all regional planning powers in Bill 9 of the infamous provincial "Restraint Package" of 1983.33 The government thereby canceled the legitimacy of all existing regional plans and eliminated a fundamental purpose of regional governments. This action reduced the profile of, and need for, many regional districts across the province, particularly those that had taken on very few discretionary powers. 2.6. THE REGIONAL DISTRICT SURVEY COMMITTEE (1986) In 1986, the next review of regional districts rejected the prior review's premises even while putting forward many of the same recommendations. The Regional District Survey Committee (RDSC), headed by former Minister Dan Campbell himself, proposed (not sur-prisingly) "no philosophical change in direction with respect to Regions: certainly no change in the federation principle."34 The Re-gional District Survey Committee com-piled a report on every regional district and the chairman presented the recom-mendations in a summary volume in 1986. In that volume Mr. Campbell echoed many of the observations re-ported by the RDRC and admitted that "[r]egions do have some operational and perception problems"35 which he pro-posed addressing with familiar-sounding remedies (see Figure 2-3). Figure 2-3: Significant RDSC recommendations 1. Replace the Letters Patent system with a clear statutory power system including the option of special powers from Cabinet. 2. Original supervisory and support role of the Min-istry should be reinstated. 3. More public awareness should be raised by indi-vidual regional districts and the Ministry through publications describing the role, purpose and char-acteristics of regional districts. 4. Change regional board voting system. 5. Rural community representation opportunities should be made easier. 6. Ministry should actively encourage incorporation of developed areas outside of municipalities where studies prove it to be attractive. 16 Regional District legislation, published in draft form in 1987, and brought into effect in 1989, followed many of the review recommendations from 1986 (and 1978). The system of granting powers by Letters Patent was eliminated and a system of statutory powers was created, the regional board weighted voting structure was adjusted, and rural community rep-resentation was potentially improved. Also there was a renewed commitment on the part of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to provide guidance and administrative support to regional district boards and staff. In spite of these significant changes the purpose of regional districts remained the same as at the end of 1983. The effect of the changes was to strengthen the importance of rural representation both on the boards and within the rural communities themselves. Re-gional districts also became more independent from the provincial government with the im-plementation of numerous statutory powers in place of Cabinet-approved powers, but re-gional planning powers were absent and the operation of regional districts as cohesive re-gions was not improved. 2.7. REGIONAL GROWTH STRATEGIES (1995) In 1992, a project called the Georgia Basin Initiative began with a provincial mandate to develop a strategy for sustainable development and management of the Georgia Basin re-gion of British Columbia. As sustainability is a multifaceted issue, with three commonly recognized bases (ecological, social and economic), the recommendations of the initiative encompassed many aspects of life in the Georgia Basin region. Recommendation 1 from the report, Georgia Basin Initiative - Creating a Sustainable Future, described the foundation required: [T]hat the Province of British Columbia immediately undertake a process that will consider and recommend new models of planning and governance for sustainability in the Georgia Basin. This process should: a) involve discussions with all levels of government (federal, provincial, re-gional, municipal), aboriginal communities, and the public; b) be designed to result in final recommendations by early 1995; c) be founded on the principle that new planning and governance systems will not increase costs or levels of government; and d) recognize that the new models must integrate, at a regional level, trans-portation and comprehensive land-use planning.36 17 The end result of the overall report and its series of recommendations was the crea-tion of the Growth Management Act (GMA), enacted in 1995. This act added a section to the Municipal Act establishing a new type of regional plan: the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS). 37 Since 1995, two RGSs have been completed in B.C. and five more are under development. What makes this legislation important in the context of this study is that the GMA was not limited in application to only the Georgia Basin; all regional districts were given the author-ity to pursue a regional growth strategy. While this legislation represented a significant step toward returning planning powers • 38 to regional districts, it is seen by some critics as too weak to achieve effective planning.. The process of creating and adopting a RGS is a series of collaborative efforts that require consensus among the parties involved. Mediation and arbitration feature prominently in the legislation as a means of developing agreement. The timeframe is also open-ended, poten-tially resulting in planning processes which take many years just to get to the first completed draft. Also, the obvious focus of the legislation is on growth management. For the many re-gional districts facing stagnation or decline in either population or the economy, the devel-opment of a growth strategy is probably less than useful. Even with its pitfalls, the GMA is a partial reversal of the 1983 revocation of regional planning powers. Planning is clearly returned as a function of regional districts. In addition, the matters spelled out in the legislation for consideration by a RGS are truly remarkable in the context of British Columbian planning and government. Both the ecological and big-picture view of issues promoted by the legislation are important advances from the more simplistic view of planning land use for good development which prevailed in the 1960s when regional district planning powers were originally created. 2.8. MUNICIPAL ACT REFORM INITIATIVE (1997) The newest examination of regional districts is occurring as part of the Municipal Act Reform Initiative. Begun by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs in 1995, the initiative has prompted the most in-depth review of British Columbia's entire system of local government in recent history. The provisions pertaining specifically to regional districts are scheduled for revision in the year 2000. 18 As a part of the reform initiative, the provincial government undertook a re-examination of the purpose and role of local governments in cooperation with the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM), the provincial organization representing the inter-ests of local governments. Resulting from the early stages of this cooperative process was the negotiation of a Protocol of Recognition between the government and UBCM. In this protocol the province "recognizes local government as an independent, responsible and ac-countable order of government." Even though regional districts are not mentioned specifically, the new relationship clearly seems to be meant for both municipalities and regional districts since the UBCM rep-resents both types of government and the generic term "local government" is used. However, with their historical differences in structure and treatment by the province, it is unclear what the intentions of the province are in this situation. As a representative of both types of government, the UBCM is carefully positive about the need for retaining both and the ability of both to carry out their assigned functions. However, since municipalities are the more entrenched constituency, being both older and more numerous, the UBCM may be limited in its ability to promote any significant increase in powers for regional districts. In any event, this comprehensive reform has already pro-duced positive legislative changes for local governments, including regional districts, and seems to be more accepting of academic study than past review efforts. 2.9. SUMMARY The purpose of regional districts have been modified several times since their crea-tion. In 1967, all regional districts had two regional functions: hospital construction and re-gional planning. The planning power and combined rural-municipal governing boards were meant to give regional districts a regional perspective and the ability to be a regional voice. In addition, regional districts were meant to provide rural representation and coordinated in-ter-municipal and rural services - but only by agreement of the localities involved. After ten years, a committee of people with local government experience reported that regional dis-tricts should be upgraded to a fully autonomous level of government, accountable directly to both the people and municipalities they comprise. While this never became official policy, it prompted the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to articulate its thoughts with respect to regional 19 districts. These thoughts favored replacing regional districts with counties which would have been more limited in scope both geographically and functionally. Functional limitations came to pass in 1983 when regional planning was rescinded as a power of regional districts. The Campbell Report in 1986 did not advocate returning plan-ning to regional districts and continued to promote them as being based on local wishes. However, it did propose more independence for regional districts from the provincial gov-ernment and enhanced rural representation. Regional Growth Strategies have put regional planning back into the realm of re-gional districts, though in a much more collaborative form than in 1967. The new regional planning provides less authority for a regional district to impose plans but also incorporates the more recent issue of sustainability. Finally, recent negotiations on reforming the Munici-pal Act have prompted the province to declare local governments as partners in governing. The current purpose of regional districts has ended up being similar to what it was originally. They are expected to handle inter-jurisdictional servicing where required by in-terested parties. They operate rural services and provide rural representation. However, the potential enhancement to rural community participation and local representation has not seen significant use. Finally, regional planning is a function of regional districts, but not an inde-pendent one. Regional Growth Strategies must be collaboratively established goals, there-fore opportunities for both the regional district and constituent municipalities to stall are part of the process. It would seem, then, that the trend in regional district government has been toward more autonomy from the province, but not municipalities, and more statutory author-ity within the framework of the federated structure currently in existence. 20 Chapter 3: Determining Needs "The Regional District form of government is an inappropriate framework for the deliv-ery of effective rural planning programs.Anonymous respondent, Tools of the Trade (1999) Having established the reason behind the creation, and current status, of regional dis-tricts, the next step is to determine if they are still needed. Do they continue to be useful and appropriate? In order to address this, it is necessary to identify the current governance needs of B.C. First, the reasons for the current system of regional districts (the needs identified in Chapter 2) must be re-examined to determine if they are still valid. Then, any new needs must be identified for a complete consideration of regional district reforms. 3.1. VALIDITY OF PRIOR NEEDS To assess the continuing validity of prior needs, the experiences of regional districts are examined as they relate to each of the primary categories of responsibility (and purpose): rural area servicing and representation, intermunicipal services, and regional voice. Infor-mation for the assessment is drawn from literature, responses to a recent survey, and discus-sions with regional district planners and administrators. 3.1.1. Rural Areas Part of regional district responsibility is to provide rural area planning and services. The need for this was made abundantly clear by the Department of Municipal affairs during the establishment of regional districts. Rees and Karlsen described the rural situation and supported the province's response: With no mechanism for comprehensive planning in rural areas, the citizens of B.C. would continue to witness the loss of valuable land and resources to im-proper use. Recognizing the unacceptable social costs of this situation, the British Columbia Department of Municipal Affairs in 1965 created a system of 28 Regional Districts to co-ordinate the administration of services and un-dertake land-use planning in the unorganized rural areas of the province.40 Today more than ever, development is sprawling out of urban areas, and many unincorpo-rated communities are facing even greater growth pressures than they did in 1965. By far, the main concern of almost every regional district is providing services to ru-ral areas. When verbally asked the question, "Generally, what would you say is the purpose 21 or mission of your regional district?", the consistency of the independent responses from the three interviewees was surprising: "Provision of municipal-type services to rural areas."41 "To collect service wishes and provide those services."42 "To provide services to rural residents."43 This consistent rural service concentration is much narrower than the three-pronged purpose originally envisioned by the regional district creators. However, since the municipalities out-side of metropolitan areas tend to be smaller and spread apart there is little call for inter-municipal service coordination. Therefore, it is particularly important to consider the exer-cise of regional district powers as they apply to rural areas. In Tools of the Trade, it was noted that fewer than two-thirds of the regional district respondents used 12 of the 19 powers under study. In fact, only 50% of the respondents used seven of the powers - less than half of the total number of powers available.44 Of course, just because a power is not used now does not mean it is not useful or will not be used in the fu-ture. And if one accepts that rural residents tend to avoid regulation - that regulations come into being only when there is local resident support - the seeming under-use of powers can reasonably be expected. What is more disturbing, though, is that when regional districts ac-tually use the powers available to them for planning, their efforts are notably less effective than when municipalities use the same tools. This situation raises questions about the ability of regional districts to carry out their most common function of providing services to rural areas. Responses to the Tools of the Trade survey tell a striking story. Monitoring and en-forcement are common problems when it comes to ensuring the effectiveness of planning tools. The use of tools to regulate such things as zoning, signage, off-street parking, land-scaping, tree cutting, and restrictive covenants all face enforcement difficulties. According to respondents, difficulties can result from lack of financial resources, large geographic areas, poor land title research, and sometimes, lack of political will to pursue enforcement. Dealing with a multitude of provincial agencies also causes regional district regula-tions to be less effective. Ministries such as Mines, Environment, Forests, and Transporta-tion seem to be the most problematic. Survey respondents had a lot to say on this matter: 22 The current system is extremely disjointed.... [Tjhere is often considerable overlap between the regional districts and [Ministry of Transportation]. Ex-cept for the Regional Growth Strategy process, there is no forum to bring the various agencies together and therefore [improve] coordination. More coordination of guidelines and approaches of senior governments with local planning direction [is needed]. Provincial agencies do not agree among themselves on environmental protec-tion guidelines vs. farming or forestry objectives. We have a difficult time.. .balancing the interests of the provincial agencies. They often give contradictory feedback. There should be better coordination between provincial agencies. Jurisdictions are not always clear.45 Rural area representation and consultation proves to be difficult under the current structural arrangements. One of the primary means of obtaining public input into decisions is the Advisory Planning Commission (APC). Twice the percentage of regional districts use an APC as compared to municipalities, but they both rate the APC overall as being only "some-what effective" - hardly encouraging especially when almost 90% of regional districts rely upon them for feedback. What seemed to be most frustrating to planners was the fact that planning in non-municipal areas is totally dependent upon the willingness of the individual communities within electoral areas. One interviewee mentioned that the regional board plans with a com-munity - in other words the board is "very willing to help a community that is requesting help."46 Unfortunately, it seems that rural communities frequently do not want planning even when their activities impact upon the residents of neighboring communities. The larger pic-ture is lost under the current structure where there is no political will to persuade non-planned communities to initiate and participate in planning efforts. It is evident, then, that the need for rural services, especially planning, and improved representation is still valid to-day. 3.1.2. Intermunicipal Services With the three regional districts interviewed (all outside of metropolitan areas) the is-sue of intermunicipal services does not arise. Since the establishment of intermunicipal services is usually dependent upon having adjacent or nearby municipalities it is apparent that this is not useful to most regional districts in the province. Here again we encounter how 23 the special situation of urban areas (Vancouver and Victoria) prompted the establishment of regional districts in the first place. However, where these services are used, they fill a defi-nite need in urban servicing. They are able to take advantage of economies of scale and avoid the potential wastefulness and inconveniences of redundant facilities and arbitrary mu-nicipal boundaries. This proves especially useful in rapidly developing areas where services cannot keep up with growth within the municipalities and the development is increasingly farther flung and outside of municipal boundaries. Intermunicipal governance is based upon ad hoc incrementalism, an approach which creates intermunicipal institutions only where the continued delivery of a service by municipalities alone is unfeasible. This approach - really an up-ward delegation of municipal authority - is adaptive and flexible... . 4 7 Coordination among numerous municipalities would be more difficult without regional dis-tricts, so this original need continues to be valid. Outside of metropolitan areas, the closest most regional districts come to this kind of work is with fringe area development, that is, development in unincorporated areas adjacent to municipal boundaries. This type of development is special since it usually impacts upon the services provided by a municipality but is outside of the municipality's jurisdiction. The regional district studies of both 1978 and 1986 recommended special legislative provisions to promote the incorporation of urbanizing areas adjacent to municipal boundaries, and the spe-cial treatment of those areas by regional districts to promote good planning and lead to incor-poration. Unfortunately, many residents in fringe areas have no interest in incorporation. For some the reason is financial since their taxes tend to be lower and they often benefit from the social and recreational services of the adjacent municipality without contributing to the tax base. In other cases, it is an attachment to a smaller community, "a feeling of 'belonging' 48 which can be fully experienced only in the closely-knit local community." In other words, incorporation of a small community into a larger municipality makes each individual part of a larger body of people and therefore less significant within the larger community. As has been noted already, it is common for regional district boards to take a hands-off approach to electoral area planning until the residents directly approach the board with an interest in pursuing planning activities. This means that the current structure promotes a po-litical atmosphere where appropriate treatment of fringe development issues cannot take 24 place within the regional district. The continuing movement of people from municipalities to take advantage of lower tax rates while still placing service strains on municipalities and ru-ral areas is a need that requires urgent attention. 3.1.3. Regional Voice In spite of its name, use of the regional district to pursue region-wide goals is not common. The early documents from the province describing the need for regional structures gave much consideration to the importance of having a regional voice to speak for needs of larger areas (or regional "communities of interest") in the province, especially with regard to coordinating services: "The danger was appearing [that]... [t]here would be no agency in a region which would set the priorities between the various services required by the public or to speak for the region as a whole."49 In spite of the official hype, this purpose of regional districts was noticeably absent from the understanding of many, even some who worked with regional districts.50 Addressing fringe development is as far from rural service delivery as most regional districts seem to go.51 It seems possible from the boundaries and structure of regional districts that the de-velopment of truly regional perspectives is hindered outside of metropolitan areas.52 Regions that may have been identified easily due to geographic constraints have been split up into multiple regional districts (e.g., Gulf Islands, Okanagan). Without regional perspectives, re-gional districts have simply ended up as large-scale providers of local services, both rural and urban, while regional issues languish until a significant event or strong personality brings the need for a regional vision to the fore. Yet more and more problems have arisen over time that cannot be handled effectively by municipalities or the province independently. Clearly, though, regional districts have not been empowered to step in to address these needs: "Be-cause of the inherent organizational weaknesses... [regional districts] are burdens with com-plex, even contradictory, processes which impede effective planning and resource manage-ment regimes."53 Although, the regional perspective remains the least developed aspect of regional districts today, the need for a regional voice, and a regional perspective, has not di-minished - in most cases it has increased. 25 3.2. IDENTIFICATION OF NEW AND FUTURE NEEDS British Columbia faces new challenges that did not exist during the creation of re-gional districts. Although past needs that justified the creation of regional districts are still valid, reforms should also be based upon B.C.'s newer needs. 3.2.1. Reconsidering the Rural-Urban Split There were various needs expressed at the time regional districts were created. As Section 3.1 makes apparent, the needs tended to divide along urban-rural lines. Certain is-sues were supposed to be addressed for rural (unincorporated) areas while others related to urban areas (municipalities). However, this distinction is not favored by many in the plan-ning field. It is interesting to note that nationally much of the country's rural land use plan-ning is done by provinces and oriented around economic sectors; "It is really only at the local or regional level that there are examples of a more integrated approach to land uses in a rural environment. This seems to be greatest in those areas with regional forms of planning ad-ministration where jurisdictional areas cover both urban and rural environments.. .."54 This argument has been made in the context of British Columbia as well: Traditionally, urban, suburban, rural and resource areas were thought to have different and competing interests.... From the perspective of social, eco-nomic, and environmental sustainability, however, this great divide between urban and rural interests and the resulting separation of jurisdictions is seen as increasingly inappropriate. The interrelationships between urban, suburban, rural, and resource areas are extensive and require institutional arrangements based on cooperation and integration rather than conflict and separation.55 In fact, the tendency for policy-makers, and planners, to split urban and rural areas has been an issue of contention for most of this century. Thomas Adams, the well-known Town Plan-ning Advisor to the noted Canadian Commission of Conservation, noted the importance of integration in a 1917 report: "Not only is there no sharp division line between town and country under modern conditions, and no certainty that what is isolated rural territory today may not become the site of a town tomorrow, but the arbitrary divisions between urban and rural municipal areas are such that the conditions and problems on both sides of a boundary line between such areas may be precisely the same."56 The former Department of Municipal Affairs accepted the close urban-rural interrela-tionship to some extent but maintained a clear distinction between municipal and non-municipal territory. It explained how "it was.. .clear that the 'community interest' in certain 26 matters extended far beyond the organized municipal territory. Community interest in such things as hospitals, regional parks, and environmental management was clearly munch en broader...." The concept of community of interest for various governmental functions is also one that appears repeatedly in current literature on local government. Since the estab-lishment of regional districts, the province has identified several provincial community inter-ests and instituted mechanisms, such as an Agricultural Land Reserve and a Forest Reserve, to help preserve particular types of resources. However, in practice, because regional voices are not well developed across the province, many regional districts still operate on the basis of servicing urban or rural areas separately. In light of these statements, and Minister Camp-bell's original premise of a larger community interest in certain matters, it seems fair to say that the identification of regional community interests, and an integrated approach to prob-lems across urban-rural areas, are needs that have not been adequately addressed. 3.2.2. Ecology and Sustainability Sustainability as a concept is still undergoing evaluation and definitional changes, however most quarters accept that it involves the ability of people alive today to meet their needs while not preventing other creatures and future generations from doing the same. In other words, sustainability "means the long-term viability of human activities within the lim-its of nature."59 Sustainability is also generally accepted to consist of a social component, an economic component and an ecological component. All three of these components must be sustainable in order for sustainability as a whole to be successful. The challenge for B.C. is remaking local government to meet the challenge of sustainability: The governance system, largely instituted in its present form over a century ago, is not well designed to deal with the challenges of sustainability. the transformations that are now required involve changing: • [from] a governance system that was historically - and is still - predomi-nantly centralized, sectoral, reactive, short-term, adjudicative, adversarial, closed and elitist • to a governance system that is more decentralized, intersectoral, proactive, anticipatory, long-term, participatory, cooperative, open and egalitarian.60 Achieving sustainability requires careful planning and management. Participants in a Municipal Governance Institute symposium recommend the use of "sustainability audits" for new development, and the identification of urban sustainability initiatives in official commu-nity plans that apply for 50 to 100 years. Local governments should be encouraged to in-27 elude sustainability in its planning and provide incentives to "establish urban containment boundaries and densify existing developed areas."61 Because the factors affecting sustainability all reach beyond municipal boundaries, there is a clear need to identify the role regional districts should play. 3.2.3. Economics The current era of globalization has prompted studies of the increasing importance of city regions on the international stage.62 This complex topic is beyond the scope of this re-search, yet it is significant to regional districts and therefore bears a brief mention. The new relationship between city regions and external (foreign) markets has reduced the importance of the national, and provincial, governments that have traditionally controlled employment, labor, industrial development, and other economic policies. Because investment capital flows more freely across international borders, multinational business interests invest in re-gions that offer attractive advantages. Of course, the economics of labor markets and indus-trial policy are bigger than the municipalities themselves, so it is the regional entities that have a significant potential to impact these investment decisions. As a result, regional dis-tricts are in need of more powers to address their new, and growing, global role. 3.2.4. Good Government An interim report of the Municipal Governance Institute following a 26 September 1997 symposium offered recommendations for local government reform in B.C. Although all recommendations are promoted for local governments generally, some recommendations seem to be geared toward municipalities or regional districts specifically are mentioned on a few occasions. The recommendations cover five major areas: autonomy, powers, finance and revenues, public participation, and governance. The symposium was a response to pro-vincial willingness to consider local governments as more equal partners in governing. It is fair to classify its recommendations as identifying, and responding to, the perceived needs of local governments in these areas. For autonomy, the symposium participants generally agreed that there should be more consultation, and equal treatment, of local governments by the province whenever a matter under consideration by the province affects one or more local governments. They also be-lieved that provincial agencies, indeed the provincial government itself, should be required to 28 comply with local government regulations including fees, land use and nuisance regulations. Finally, the internal structure and operation of local governments should be entirely within the purview of the local governments themselves subject only to general provincial guide-lines (e.g. election policies, debt limits). Under powers, the participants believe that the granting of full authority within speci-fied "spheres of influence" is the best approach, rather than the granting of countless express powers. The specific spheres recommended generally cover the same powers currently granted to local governments, but would entail much less specificity than currently exists in legislation. Powers are also suggested to include full control over the holding and disposition of municipal property and ownership of municipal roads. It is interesting to note that sympo-sium participants rejected the potential granting of all "residual" provincial powers, that is when the province grants to local governments all of its own powers except for those on which it has specifically legislated. This decision, and their reasoning, is consistent with the historical reluctance of Canadian municipalities to obtain any excess powers or responsibili-ties. This is apparently in response to concerns that with such powers senior governments would be able to download more easily to local governments without providing extra re-sources, and a "fear [of] increased calls from the public for services and facilities."63 Financial and revenue authority is expected to be made more flexible and user-friendly. Specific recommendations include the simplification of debt financing, the oppor-tunity for local governments to use means of taxation other than property tax, and the ability to negotiate taxes with business and industry. Public participation is the subject of major criticism. "Public hearings in British Co-lumbia are a sham and have now reached the point where the focus is on the process and not the substance;"64 therefore, local governments should be empowered to consider other means of obtaining public input. Electors should also have the opportunity to initiate bylaws by petition and referendum, and governments should be able to consider alternative internal governance structures (e.g. neighborhood commissions) that can be granted real powers. Governance is the subject of an extensive section. Here participants laid out how lo-cal governments should be able to determine their own elected membership and operating procedures. Local governments should be able to disqualify elected officials from serving in office for various breaches of confidence or violations of the oath of office. There are also 29 elaborate conflict of interest provisions and the ability of the local government to delegate administrative powers freely. This section contains interesting statements specifically en-dorsing the granting of greater self-governing powers to municipalities alone. There is also a provision that the "mayor of a municipality should be elected at large [while] the chair of a regional district [should be chosen] by the directors."65 This may be a reflection of the heavy municipal participation in the symposium and the emphasis of the institute itself on "munici-pal governance." 3.2.5. Protocol of Recognition Perhaps the most significant identification of the present needs of B.C. local govern-ment is the principles established in the Protocol of Recognition and the resulting Sub-agreement on a New Legislative Foundation of Local Government. With respect to local government authority, the Protocol requires that "legislation, regulations, policies or pro-grams should respect the varying needs and circumstances of local governments in different parts of the province." Furthermore, "in the spirit of fairness, openness and good faith any proposed significant change in [local government] legislation, regulations, standards, policies or programs will be preceded by appropriate consultation among the affected parties.. .."66 Clearly there is concern about constrained one-size-fits-all legislation for local government and a desire for greater autonomy. The Sub-agreement, adopted in 1997, establishes more specific guidelines for the re-making of local governments. It requires the replacement of narrow, specific powers with broad powers and significant flexibility to respond to local needs and circumstances. It re-quires the provincial government to refrain from interfering in local government affairs with-out a "clear purpose, responsibility or interest," and calls for the matching of resources to lo-cal government responsibilities. Finally, there is a special provision requiring local govern-ments to be answerable to citizens and calling on the province to create local government legislation which "include[s] a variety of ways to determine citizen interest and enable[s] citizen input on issues of concern to them. The legislation should also ensure that the local government decision-making process is fair and open." More than anything, the Protocol and Sub-agreement demonstrate a need to rethink how local government meets the needs of B.C. today. 30 3.3. SUMMARY OF NEEDS It is apparent that British Columbia's needs are more extensive today than ever be-fore. The original needs identified in the 1960s remain valid today, plus new issues have arisen over the past three decades that have created new needs to be addressed by local gov-ernment. A summary of the needs identified in this chapter is as follows: ORIGINAL • Rural services • Rural representation • Inter-municipal services • Regional voice/identity NEW • Rural-urban inter-relationship and fringe development is-sues • Identification of regional "community of interest" issues • Sustainability (including ecological, social, and economic aspects) • Increased local government autonomy • Identification of provincial interests with respect to local government affairs and powers Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list of potential governance needs. Even so, the list above includes broad needs reflecting issues that are timely for B.C. or have been associated with regional districts previously. The next chapter will condense these needs and present alternatives that should be considered before making decisions on how to address them. 31 Chapter 4: Alternatives for Meeting Needs "Most authors in the field of Canadian municipal government agree that the creation of municipal institutions had more to do with provincial imposition than with grass-roots mobilization." - Caroline Andrew To consider possible means of addressing the needs identified in the previous chapter, it is useful to consider the needs in two broad categories: representation and powers. Repre-sentation includes rural representation and regional voice. Powers include the identification of regional community interests, provision of rural and intermunicipal services, handling of the rural-urban interface, approach to sustainability, and the autonomy of local government. 4.1. REPRESENTATION There is much criticism of the tendency for local government to be used primarily for service delivery to the exclusion, even detriment, of other roles. Especially in Canada, the municipal reform movement from the turn of the century left a legacy of local governments acting as nonpartisan service providers focused on efficiency.68 By the late 1960s, "the pol-icy [for Ontario urban local government reform] recognized the need to provide not only ef-ficient delivery of services but also adequate access and effective representation of local views and concerns."69 As a result, regional reforms were initially geared to address this need. Even so, "the results of...regional reforms have been to strengthen the efficiency and effectiveness of urban services, but not to strengthen the democratic character of local gov-ernment or to increase the channels of participation by the local population. Regional gov-ernments tend to be more insulated from the population than are lower-tier municipal ones...."70 Therefore, a service-centered approach results in a governmental structure which inhibits the local government from taking on an advocacy role or simply being a forum for effective political debate of local issues. Representation should fulfill the needs of local people to express opinions, initiate and pursue programs, and make collective decisions prioritizing their needs and devoting re-sources to meet them. Clarke and Stewart describe a local government as fulfilling its repre-sentative role when the "local authority is a voice for the community... [which] means that 71 the local authority acts as an advocate for the community and those who live within it." When regional districts were created, Minister Campbell used very similar words to state the need for a regional perspective. ( 32 Representation in local government is affected by many things. Significant structural issues include: electoral system, number of representatives (e.g. councilors, board members), 72 separation of administration and policy-making functions, and use of direct democracy. These should all be kept in mind while identifying governance alternatives. 4.1.1. Electoral System There are an infinite number of ways to arrange the regional district board and deter-mine how its members are selected. The concept of an "electoral system" typically refers to an actual method of electing candidates to office (e.g. proportional representation, winner takes all). However, in the case of regional districts, a great many of the board members are not currently elected at all. Therefore, in this analysis, electoral system refers to deciding whether candidates are appointed or elected. The history of regional district board structure is a debate about the electoral system: should members be appointed or elected and how. It is helpful to think of board membership arrangements as an electoral continuum with an entirely appointed membership on one end and an entirely elected membership on the other. Decisions on board membership have al-ways involved a compromise between these extremes, typically in favor of existing political interests. Appointed Board Regional districts represent a level of government between the province and munici-palities. One might therefore consider that regional district boards should comprise repre-sentatives from these two levels of government: the appointment of municipal and provincial representatives. In order to ensure unincorporated areas were also represented, the province could make some appointments from the rural areas, either at-large, or according to geo-graphic divisions. Additional appointments would also be made to represent the province's own interests at the regional level. The exclusion of provincial representatives is a step toward regional autonomy from the province. Such a situation strengthens the identification of regional districts as local gov-ernments and reduces the potential for competition with municipalities which become the only organized governments represented on the regional district boards. 33 Hybrid Board This alternative can actually be achieved in a number of ways. It is a broad alterna-tive with many degrees, or steps, separating a wholly appointed board from one wholly elected. The first step away from a purely appointed board would be the election of at least one member, for example, the regional board chair. This would provide the regional district with input and some direction from the electorate directly, but the appointed membership would ultimately carry all decisions. One drawback could be friction in the operation of the board because the board members have no voice in choosing their leader. The next step is the election of a group of members. The current regional district ar-rangement falls here with the election of members from the population outside of munici-palities. This structure makes sense for unincorporated areas because there is no existing lo-cal governmental authority outside of municipalities that could make appointments to the board, and the interests of the local population can be conveyed more accurately by a repre-sentative chosen by them rather than someone else (i.e. provincial appointee). The combination of these two options provides a third. A board with non-municipal members elected directly, either at-large within the unincorporated area or by ward, and a chair elected at-large from across the regional district. With both this and the prior option, the ratio of elected to appointed members would depend upon the number and population of municipalities within the regional district. Also, the possibility of disputes occurring be-tween the regional district and its member municipalities continues to be minimized since the municipal representatives on the board would be appointed by their respective municipal councils. Elected Board In spite of reduced municipal-regional conflict, there are drawbacks to both the ap-pointed and hybrid board approaches. Ontario's experience provides a word of caution re-garding non-elected government officials: "[L]ittle attention has been given to ways of making local governments more responsible and accountable to their inhabitants.... [T]he essentially indirect election of regional councilors did little to generate public involvement in, or support for, the [Ontario] regional system."73 It is important, then, to clarify what role the public is expected to play in regional government and to whom the regional government is responsible if a significant portion of the regional board is appointed. 34 At the other end of the spectrum, is the entirely elected board. As with the appointed and hybrid boards, there are different ways to structure an all-elected board. One approach that was tried after 1972 reforms was the direct election of board members from a particular pool of individuals - in this case, the candidates for municipal council. The simplest ap-proach, however, is the election of the appropriate number of board members within each member jurisdiction without restriction as to who can be selected. This is nearly equivalent to a ward system, where certain geographic areas are guaranteed representation. The board would then operate as it does under current laws. A variation is the division of the region into wards that may or may not follow mu-nicipal boundaries. This would allow for the creation of electoral units based on communi-ties or neighborhoods rather than artificial municipal boundaries. Another option is the elec-tion of all regional representatives at-large, the same as most municipal elections in B.C. to-day. The chair may be elected at-large as a separate position under any of these options, or selected by the board from among its members. Rural Representation Aside from improved representation on the regional district board, representative structures within electoral areas are also needed. All of the interviewed professionals agreed that a change in the current manner of representing rural areas is in order. There were sug-gestions that there should be more representation from rural areas at the regional level and that representation should be more accountable to the public. Complaints were voiced spe-cifically that the current structure promotes the treatment of electoral areas as "islands" within the regional district. Equality among the directors is lacking in that municipal direc-tors and electoral area directors have different status and serve their jurisdictions in different capacities. An elected Electoral Area Commission (EAC) could serve the representative function for rural areas better than the current appointed Advisory Planning Commissions. An EAC could be elected for each electoral area, or a Rural Area Commission could be elected at-large from the entire unincorporated area of the regional district. Either of these bodies would be advisory to the regional district board regarding matters within their borders. These bodies could also be delegated powers by the board - for example, powers to review, or even approve, certain planning and development proposals. 35 A more radical departure from the current regional district arrangement would be to establish a separate Rural Area Commission and a Municipal Commission (with municipal representatives) and have them operate as a bicameral legislative body. Each body might be given certain powers with respect to their own areas, and the approval of both could be re-quired on decisions affecting the government itself and the region as a whole. This arrange-ment would have to be adjusted in the case of metropolitan areas if the amount of unincorpo-rated land is too small. 4.1.2. Number of Representatives The total number of representatives on a regional district board is a contentious issue as this is often the constraining factor on the number of votes granted to each member con-stituency. In local government, the common wisdom seems to be that smaller governing bodies are better. For regional districts, this translated into the current structure where some members representing populous areas possess multiple votes, rather than having one repre-sentative per vote on the board. This approach undoubtedly grows out of the municipal re-form efforts of the early twentieth century that strove to make local governments more effi-cient - and having too many people governing certainly has the potential for slowing the pace of decision-making. However, there seems to be little concern for reducing the size of provincial and federal legislatures to a certain very small number for increased efficiency -why should this be such a concern for local governments? This is a complex issue outside the scope of this thesis. For this research, it is as-sumed that the current number of votes and representatives on the regional district boards will be retained. 4.1.3. Administration vs. Policy-Making Another way of changing the representative dynamic of the regional district board is to separate the board's dual administration and policy-making role. The board could keep its policy-making (legislative) duties while relinquishing some administrative authority to an executive. The current practice of appointing a CEO or manager does relieve the board of day-to-day administrative decision-making. However, all administrative decisions are ulti-mately within the purview of the board. 36 An elected executive (perhaps an elected chair as mentioned previously) with its own administrative mandate would leave the board to establish the policies and standards while administration is handled by the executive. In such a situation, both legislative and executive functions would receive more attention with legislation having input from more locally-oriented representatives and the executive having a wider viewpoint. Of course, any such separation of powers presents the opportunity for conflict between the legislative and execu-tive authorities. The level of conflict can be limited by the way in which powers are divided. 4.1.4. Direct Democracy Direct democracy, generally, is a term used to describe the participation of the people themselves in their own government. More specifically, direct democracy refers collectively to three tools: referendum, initiative, and recall. There presently exists a system whereby referendums are required for the implementation, or continuation, of some services provided by regional districts. However, the more extensive versions of referendum and initiative do not exist. While direct democracy is, potentially, the ultimate way for people to express opinions, initiate and pursue programs, and make collective decisions, some believe it is a tool rife with misuse or, at best, simply a waste of time and money. Supporters of direct de-mocracy believe people are intelligent enough to govern themselves and direct democracy enhances civic education: "Direct democracy practices might even help recapture the more desirable qualities of town meeting democracy.... But critics of direct democracy say the people are not informed or caring enough to vote on complicated public policy issues."74 Direct democracy can be used as the means of establishing local government policies, services and structures. The provision of direct democracy may create a balance to the population-based representation system used for regional districts. With direct democracy, residents in a non-populous area would have the opportunity to raise an issue for the public's decision when their board members are stymied by the majority representatives. In the end, the majority will would prevail, but the arrangement potentially provides more opportunity for the needs of smaller areas to be make known. An extensive collection of literature describes the ins and outs, the benefits and costs, of direct democracy.75 An extensive treatment is not possible in the context of this thesis. However, direct democracy mechanisms should always be considered as ways to balance 37 what might be considered a top-heavy or lop-sided government structure. Direct democracy in all its forms can be effective when structured carefully and used appropriately. 4.2. POWERS The delivery of services is a significant component of local government activity around the world. Ensuring services are delivered effectively and efficiently has been the reason behind many local government reform efforts. However, it must be considered that "the capacity to use legal authority in relation to a particular function [of local government] to bring about a desired policy objective is intimately related to two other important factors: the territory covered by the local government and the degree of autonomy it has in relation to other institutions with which it must work."76 4.2.1. Territory Territory is a key issue for regional districts. It was, after all, the limited territories of municipalities that gave rise to a need for larger, regional entities. Therefore, any delineation of regional district responsibilities must be done in conjunction with a consideration of re-gional district territory. Regional responsibilities cannot be carried out effectively if bounda-ries are too constrained. Similarly, the location of boundaries is also important. Boundaries that do not respect natural barriers and historic ties may cause problem areas to overlap juris-dictions and therefore prevent an effective regional response. Rowat believes there is no sure way to delineate a "natural" region for purposes of government. Nevertheless, he describes four criteria for helping to delineate political regions if the creation of regions is deemed necessary or useful. First, the area must contain a popu-lation with a common interest. Second, there should be an appropriate number of regions such that the province is not overwhelmed dealing with them. Third, there must be a suffi-cient financial base for each region to support its own activities. Fourth, the powers of the province should be adequately decentralized when granted to the regions.77 Using these cri-teria, there must be an appropriate number of regional districts that are sufficiently large, properly bounded, and that have adequate resources for each to be an effective political re-gion. There are other ways of defining regions, but that discussion is another research proj-ect in itself. Suffice it to say that the RDRC report provides various recommendations on 38 how some regional district boundaries can be improved. The recommendations need not be accepted as a package, rather some can be implemented in groups with certain others to pro-vide a few territorial improvement alternatives. 4.2.2. Autonomy Provincial Oversight By and large, municipalities exercise their powers freely, without interference from the provincial government. The few exceptions are where the province has laid out a special method of handling a certain policy issue, such as environmental protection and hazardous waste management. In such cases, the province may require the municipality to obtain pro-vincial approval of a course of action before implementation. Otherwise, in practice munici-palities exercise their general powers on their own initiative. In contrast, regional districts are frequently required to submit proposed bylaws to various provincial ministries for approval before they are finalized. This applies to many of the same powers exercised by municipalities without provincial oversight. Such a disparity has resulted in frustrated regional districts whose proposals are put on hold while awaiting provincial responses: "Approval process for OCP is extremely time consuming"; "Many provincial agencies will not spend the time or effort on zoning referrals"; "Requirement for bylaw approval at Municipal Affairs [is] not necessary or at least [there should be] a time limit for the province to reply." One respondent to the Tools of the Trade survey suggested: "Eliminate the requirement for Municipal Affairs approval for Regional District bylaws and possibly replace it with a greater degree of oversight for small municipalities. Virtually all RDs have professional planning staff, whereas a small municipality may not and conse-quently may have a greater need for input from [the Ministry]."78 Requiring approval of routine regional district bylaws is a remnant of when the re-gional district concept was young and the province wanted to ensure the new entities were following their intended path. Clearly, regional districts have matured. They are now able to make decisions independently thus making this approach more of a hindrance than a help. Therefore, the alternatives range from a slight reduction in required provincial approvals, to time-limited provincial response times, to the same approvals required of municipalities or no approvals at all. 39 Complete provincial control is unworkable as the province could not hope to make meaningful approvals of every action of local government. The very notion is, itself, con-trary to the existence of local government. It would be easier for the province to undertake local activities itself than be burdened with numerous local governments demanding approval of unending uses of power. The concept of local government implies the ability to take at least some actions without any direct role for the province. The opposite extreme, no provincial control, is impossible due to the constitutional status of local government. So long as municipalities and regional districts remain creatures of provincial government, the province cannot help but control the way in which local gov-ernments exercise their powers through the very act of granting the powers in the first place. Thus an optimal level of provincial oversight must be determined and the appropriate struc-ture established to carry it out. Four factors mentioned in regional district literature, and by respondents to questionnaires, should be considered when determining the level of provincial oversight: 1. Positive vs. negative approvals 2. Time limits for the approval to be made 3. The number of powers subject to approvals 7 9 4. Linking the use of some powers to the prior approval of other powers Municipal Control While the province can control regional district activities from above, municipalities can do the same from below. Under the current structure, regional districts are essentially prevented from carrying out any activity regionally if even one municipality objects because municipalities can opt-out of regional planning and can choose to not participate in the vari-ous intermunicipal services provided by regional districts. The primacy of municipal concerns over regional action is contrary to many notions of good government. Hill makes a valuable point on this subject when she says a region "re-quires a system of governance that balances local/municipal autonomy and effective regional co-ordination to ensure the region's livability."80 The same conclusion has been drawn in other provinces, too. Alberta originally pursued urban regional governance with the premise that "a certain amount of local autonomy must be sacrificed in the interest of securing the 40 policy objectives which are of common concern to the municipalities within a given re-gion."81 One alternative to the current arrangement is to either eliminate the opt-out opportu-nity for municipalities or make the opting-out subject to the regional board's approval. Of course this may prove to be a weak alternative because it may simply encourage board mem-bers to approve all opt-out requests in anticipation of the day they may ask for the favor themselves. Another alternative is the delineation of specific regional powers, and the with-holding of those powers from municipalities. This would create more of a partnership ar-rangement by dividing local government duties between the two governments. It would also greatly reduce the degree to which individual municipalities impact regional district deci-sions, both directly and indirectly, and increase regional district autonomy. 4.2.3. Granting Powers The issue of the actual powers of regional districts is important. Respondents in Tools of the Trade offered many suggestions for improving existing powers and creating new ones. However, since the possible alternatives for all existing planning powers is over-whelming, it is not within the scope of this thesis to offer such specific alternatives. Alter-nately, there has been discussion about the potential of broadening the authority for local governments to act. The Municipal Governance Institute symposium discussed the three major alternatives in granting powers to local government: express powers, spheres of influ-ence, and residual powers. Types of Grants Under the current local government arrangements, the Municipal Act describes cer-tain "express powers" which are granted to local governments by the province. The courts interpret these powers very strictly and will not uphold actions of local government that stray outside any meaning clearly intended by the legislature. If a power is not specifically stated, or necessarily implied in order to carry out an express power, then the power has not been granted and cannot be legitimately exercised. This alternative has the benefit of superior provincial oversight and control of local government actions. It means the province does not have to attempt to anticipate all possible permutations of an exercise of broad powers. On the other hand, it also means that a poor wording in the legislation can lead courts to invali-41 date actions of local governments that the legislature intended to make valid. As a result, the courts are always attempting to ascertain just how specific the law could be and whether the legislature intended for various unforeseen situations to be handled by local governments. Clearly, this arrangement is very inflexible for local governments. The "spheres of influence" approach, favored by the Municipal Governance Institute symposium, would grant broad powers to local governments within specified topical areas. The topics, or spheres of influence, would be well-defined by the legislature and broad pow-ers would be granted to local governments to handle all issues arising within the spheres. This would eliminate the difficulties of describing numerous, detailed expressed powers for specified activities in which the province desires no direct role, while retaining the benefits of close provincial oversight in other activities of local government. The concept of residual powers is almost the opposite of express powers. Under this arrangement, the province would grant to local governments all powers of the province to exercise within local jurisdictional boundaries. In areas where the province wished to as-sume a direct policy-making role, it could create laws and regulations which would take precedence over those of local governments. This creates an arrangement where local gov-ernments can exercise all of the province's powers except those which are exercised by the province directly. This alternative would mean less provincial control over local government activities. The province would have to specifically deny local governments certain powers, or else create legislation of its own to cover certain policy issues. On the positive side, it means local governments and the province would not have to be concerned about court inter-pretations of the minutiae involved in laying out express powers. Local governments would have the flexibility to handle situations that were not contemplated when local government powers are laid out. Any of these methods of power granting can be used for establishing rural, intermu-nicipal and region-wide powers for regional districts. However, the exercise of rural powers by regional districts does not impinge on municipalities exercising their own powers, and in-termunicipal services are, by definition, by agreement only since they are of interest only to those involved. Therefore, the issue of primary interest is the option of granting region-wide powers that might be binding on all residents of the region including member municipalities. 42 Regional Powers The granting of powers to regional districts that are distinct from the powers of mu-nicipalities would, in effect, turn British Columbia's current regional governance system into a two-tier regional government system82 where municipalities and regional districts would have separate, distinct, and autonomous authority. An Alberta Municipal Affairs representa-tive once stated, "a certain amount of local autonomy must be sacrificed in the interest of se-curing the policy objectives which are of common concern to the municipalities with a given region."83 However, in Ontario, "the division of responsibilities between the upper and lower tiers has caused friction and inhibited coordination."84 Should regional districts be granted powers that can operate regionally regardless of the approval of individual municipalities? The first consideration when considering regional district powers should be identify-ing the regional community interests. As mentioned before, this concept has been used time and again as a valid means of determining what should fall within the influence of regional governments. Municipal Affairs mentioned such issues as hospitals, regional parks, and en-85 vironmental management as issues affecting a regional, rather than a local, community. More recently, issues such as resource management, transportation, economic development, and sustainable development have been identified as appropriately regional issues. Once the issues to be handled regionally are identified, the question then becomes how to divide authority between municipalities and regional districts. The three options for granting power from the province to local governments discussed above can be applied here. By considering each option (express, sphere of influence, and residual powers) applied to both municipalities and regional districts, a matrix can be constructed describing the nine al-ternatives for dividing responsibilities between the two types of government (see Figure 4-1). Some of the nine resulting combinations have significantly different ramifications. The options have been pattern-coded into groups that have similar impacts. It is assumed that, in every case, municipalities and regional districts are either granted powers distinct from each other - that is, no powers overlap - or the same powers are granted to both gov-ernments, but one has the first right of use while the other must have permission from the first to use it. This avoids an untenable situation where the two levels of government would have to decide between them how to exercise the common powers. 43 Figure 4-1: Options for Granting Provincial Power Municipalities (M) Power granted Express (E) Sphere (S) Residual (R) tricts Express (E) 1. E\i+H|<], 3. R M + E K I ) Regional D (RD; Sphere (S) 4. KM+SRI, 5. SM+SRD 6. RM+SKU Regional D (RD; Residual (R) 7. Evi+Ruo 8. SM+RR,, 9. RM+RRD Option # Power Arrangement Description 1 Express to muni. & Express to RD Each level of government has specific powers granted to it. (Current arrangement) 1 Sphere to muni. & Express to RD Municipalities receive broad powers within certain spheres and RDs are granted specific powers. Residual to muni. & Express to RD Municipalities have residual powers granted to them while RDs have only express powers. Express to muni. & Sphere to RD Municipalities have specific powers; regional dis-tricts have broad powers within certain spheres. 5 Sphere to muni. & Sphere to RD Both levels have broad powers within designated spheres of influence. HI Residual to muni. & Sphere to RD Municipalities have residual powers while RDs have broad powers only within spheres of influence. Express to muni. & Residual to RD Municipalities have specific powers; regional dis-tricts exercise residual powers. Sphere to muni. & Residual to RD Municipalities have broad powers within certain spheres; RDs have residual powers of the province. 9 Residual to muni. & Residual to RD Municipalities and regional districts both have resid-ual powers. (Source: author) The municipal-favored options (designated with vertical stripes) are Options #2, 3 and 6. These are arrangements in which municipalities are granted broader authority than regional districts. As a result, the province would most likely specify the regional district powers first, then delegate the remaining local government powers to municipalities. The regional district-favored options (designated with diagonal stripes) are Options #4, 7 and 8. These are the opposite of the municipal-favored alternatives and would work similarly except 44 in reverse. The solid color options are the balanced options. Options #1,5 and 9 each grant powers to each type of government in the same way and should, as mentioned above, distin-guish between solely municipal and solely regional district powers. 4.3. SUMMARY There are countless ways to change regional district government, not all of which are realistic or workable. Some of the areas of potential change have been glossed over as they are too complex to deal with in the context of this limited research. So, with the resources available to the researcher, certain alternatives have been developed and presented for con-sideration in this chapter. Figure 4-2 summarizes the alternatives. Figure 4-2: Summary of Alternatives Representation Electoral system Regional District Board 1. Board appointed from municipalities and province. 2. Board appointed from municipalities and rural areas. 3. Appointed municipal reps., elected rural reps. 4. Board elected from municipalities and rural areas. 5. Board elected regionally by ward. 6. Board elected regionally at-large. 7. #2-#6 + board chair elected at-large. Rural Areas 1. Electoral Area Commission elected for each electoral area. 2. Rural Area Commission elected for entire unincorporated area. 3. Bicameral board with rural and municipal commissions. Number of Reps. Same as at present. Administration vs. 1. Current board with combined powers of legislation and admini-Policy-making stration. 2. Separation of powers between legislative board and administra-tive executive. Direct Democracy 1. Referendum 2. Initiative 3. Recall Powers • ; Territory Refer to Regional District Review Committee recommendations. Autonomy Provincial Approvals 1. Reduce the number of required approvals. 2. Impose a time limit for granting approvals. 3. Require disapproval rather than approval. 4. Make more powers exercisable based upon the prior approval of guiding documents (e.g. OCPs, RLUBs). Municipal Control 1. Require municipal opt-outs to have board approval. 2. Delineate specific "regional" functions with no opt-out. 3. Eliminate all municipal opt-out. Granting Power 1. Express powers. 2. Sphere of influence. 3. Residual powers. 45 Chapter 5: Recommendat ions "You must not complicate your government beyond the capacity of its electorate to un-derstand it. If you do... it will lose the public confidence." - H.L. Mencken It has been said that public understanding of regional districts is hampered by the complicated relationship between them and municipalities and by the lack of consistency in regional district powers from one part of the province to another. Even a cursory review of available literature reveals numerous studies that have been conducted on governmental re-form across Canada. Although provinces are always encouraged to rationalize and refine the overall basis for local governments within their jurisdictions, it is important to keep this in mind: "In many instances any coherent philosophy of local government is lost in the need of provincial governments to respond to individual problems as they arise. But one should keep in mind that it is not necessarily the case that all change must follow some predetermined plan. When it comes to municipalities there is nothing to suggest that there is only one ap-propriate structure or one inherently consistent approach to local government reform."86 Therefore, this chapter attempts to identify an approach that is appropriate to British Columbia without relying overly on external examples (an approach that is also familiar to B.C. politics). There are two ways to reform regional districts to improve their ability to meet the needs of B.C. First, changes to the structure of regional districts must be consid-ered; and, second, the powers of regional districts vis-a-vis municipalities and the province should be delineated and made effective. 5.1. STRUCTURAL REFORMS Adjustments in the way regional districts operate can be termed structural reforms. These involve the electoral arrangements that dictate how members of the regional district board are chosen and the internal relationships that determine how people and agencies inter-act within the regional district. Whenever considering a governmental structure, especially at the regional level, it is useful to bear in mind Ontario's experience: "[T]he.. .representative role of local government has been largely ignored.... The consolidation of lower tier munici-palities reduced the number of elected councils and, with the enlarged areas, many citizens felt that their municipal government was less accessible and less sensitive to their particular 87 needs. The feeling of alienation was even stronger with respect to the regional councils...." 46 5.1.1. Rural Representation The issue of rural representation and participation has been a perennial problem. Even though the province has created guidelines whereby unincorporated communities can be established and have an elected body that handles selected tasks and provides advice to the regional district board, these provisions of the current law are not widely used. It is likely this results mostly from the fact that any use of these provisions must be initiated by the local community residents, and most people seem to be inclined to accept the status quo rather than spend much energy changing governance arrangements. Therefore, in order to improve the involvement of rural residents, it seems appropriate to adopt the stance that improvements in rural representation must be built into the normal governing arrangements. No doubt, the residents that may not care now will most likely want a structure in place should a problem arise. The idea of having Electoral Area Commissions (EAC) elected by the residents of each electoral area within a regional district has been forwarded in the past. This idea ad-dresses an ongoing problem with Advisory Planning Commissions (APC) in that it provides for public selection of members and a standard forum for public participation within the electoral area. Regional district comments on APCs include: "Because Advisory Planning Commission members are appointed by the local director, they do not represent a cross-section of the local community. Generally, APC members have the same interests and biases as the Director;" and "Elected Advisory Planning Commissions would provide more bal-anced local advisory capacity. Current APC structure tends to support the dictatorial nature 88 of electoral area governance." An EAC would act as an advisory body to the Electoral Area Director and the re-gional district board in the same way as APCs do currently but with a public mandate. These bodies should also be able to accept certain delegated authority over activities within their jurisdictions. For example, all development and planning proposals might be required to go through the EAC before being presented to the regional district board with a recommenda-tion. Any delegation would be done by the regional district board. Under this system, the opportunity would exist for an increased sense of local ownership of planning and develop-ment decisions. This also follows present concerns with APCs: "APCs continue to struggle with their role as advisory only. They want more power to decide issues;" and "The relation-47 ship between APCs (as an advisory body) and the Board (as a legislative body) becomes blurred in practice (especially in large rural RDs). Communication, accountability and juris-dictions are unclear - especially in the eye of the public."89 Also, any remaining perception that municipalities hold too much sway over rural development and servicing decisions would be tempered if boards were presented with recommendations from an elected local commission before making decisions. 5.1.2. Regional Perspective A truly regional perspective is lacking in many regional districts partly because there are no truly regional representatives on the boards. The federation approach tends to require political consensus, or near-consensus, which often means no action or weak action to ad-dress regional issues which are not politically popular with all members of the federation. In other words, boards seek out the lowest common denominator of political will in order to achieve any action. The Regional District Review Committee forwarded the proposal to have the regional district board chair elected. Having a regionally elected member heading the board would provide more balance to the discussions of the board. Assuming the chair would have modest powers similar to a mayor, the regional district organization would bene-fit from a larger perspective in the way committee membership is determined and staff is di-rected. It is unfortunate the Municipal Governance Institute specifically rejected this option, though it has already been stated that this is because of the municipal focus of the institute and the make-up of the attendees at the particular conference where the recommendation was made. Such a stance merely perpetuates the inability of many regional districts to take ac-tion, or even consider issues, regionally. With a "regional" member chairing the board there is certain to be more consideration given to regional matters as compared to rural, municipal, and other purely sub-regional issues. Another way to improve the regional perspective of the board even further is to con-sider methods of electing the municipal members of the board. This has been a contentious topic since the concept of regional districts was first put forward. The system of municipal councils appointing representatives to the regional board was a means of making the regional organization less threatening to municipalities. Unfortunately, it also insulates the regional 48 representatives from accountability for decisions made by the regional board, and it makes the board and its members less visible to the municipal electorate. This is noted by Bish: while all areas achieve representation on regional boards, it is important to recognize that most regional board members are not elected to fill that role. Their main concern is as a mayor or an alderman elected within a municipal-ity, and only secondarily as regional board appointees. Members may not have the same incentive to do well, or receive the same voter scrutiny of their regional board actions as they do in their mayoral or aldermanic positions. In some cases members are more concerned for the impact of the regional district on their municipality than for the district's regional role.90 A noted B.C. political scientist has maintained that from a practical political stand-point, governments must be representative of the community. "What will people take action to defend?" - their community.91 He maintains that, presently, municipalities are the most meaningful level of community. That means the political will to make changes which are perceived as a threat to municipalities will not materialize. However, is it truly the people who will take action to defend their communities - their municipalities - from encroachment by regional districts? In fact, the regional districts system that is praised as innovative and flexible now is, itself, the result of an activist minister and provincial government that pushed a proposal lacking a "publicly expressed need but designed to meet public expressed prob-lems."92 Clearly, municipal officials wield considerable influence when it comes to proposed changes in municipal authority. "Could...regional citizenship evolve, creating local constitu-encies for [regional] policy?"93 Regional citizenship, that is the ability of people to identify themselves as part of a regional community, would increase both the profile of the region and people's willingness to make sacrifices to defend or promote it. Means of promoting re-gional identification and citizenship, such as maps of regional districts and signage at bor-ders, should be pursued. Nevertheless, once established, governing structures are difficult to change. Rather than attempting to force municipalities to accept the idea of elected regional board represen-tatives, it may be better, and fairer to the municipal councils, to provide a mechanism for the public to initiate and decide this question itself. An appropriate alternative would be a refer-endum arrangement, whereby interested parties could circulate petitions calling for a vote on making regional board members from their municipality directly elected. Such an arrange-ment would mean that municipal councils could debate the issue and present information and 49 arguments to the public in advance of any decision on the matter. It would also mean that the current arrangement would continue until positive action was taken by an interested party. Ultimately, however, it is appropriate that the public be able to decide how its representatives to the regional district are chosen. This approach also recognizes the notion that regional districts should be flexible in responding to local and regional situations. It may be that cer-tain areas of the province have more populist sentiment and want to elect their board repre-sentatives directly, whereas other areas of the province may be satisfied with the current, fa-miliar arrangement. Regardless of whether municipal representatives are elected or appointed, continuity and consistency are problems on regional boards. This often results from the short one-year term of municipal appointees. "Have municipal reps... [selected] for a three-year term"94 is the recommendation of one interviewee. Such a change would reduce turnover and put mu-nicipal and electoral area representatives on equal footing with regard to term of office. 5.2. POWERS The entire approach to regional district powers must be reworked. Regional districts are presently handicapped with an unreasonable level of provincial oversight and the need for all regional actions to have the approval of municipal governments. The creation and im-plementation of services should occur in regional districts just as they do in municipalities. Requirements for ministerial approval should not be more stringent than in the case of mu-nicipalities. If a board representing all constituent communities within its boundaries makes a decision on service provision, that decision should not be subject to provincial approval so long as it falls within an area of local government jurisdiction. Instead, the province should follow this advice from a regional district: "A stronger research/resource role for [the Mu-nicipal Affairs Ministry's] planning staff would be helpful to those of us in smaller commu-nities. How often do we circulate requests to other [regional districts]/municipalities for in-put into a specific planning problem? Why not have all planning bylaws and research on major issues placed in a central research library [at the Ministry], with key issues indexed on computer?"95 50 5.2.1. Rural and Intermunicipal Powers The powers available to regional districts when acting for an electoral area are nearly the same as the powers available to municipalities. There are two major differences: the po-litical structure which is expected to exercise these powers, and the need for provincial ap-provals. The political structure is a federation of individual jurisdictions with their own agendas, unlike the municipal structure where all councilors have an elected mandate, theo-retically, to work for the jurisdiction as a whole. This fragmentation means that people making decisions about the exercise of powers may not have a direct stake in the results. The need for provincial approvals slows the response time of regional districts when addressing the needs of rural areas. To address this, the presently informal Electoral Area Director committee of many regional boards dealing with electoral area matters should be formalized by every regional district, and the exercise of rural powers by regional districts must be made subject to the same provincial oversight rules as the exercise of municipal powers by munici-palities. By most accounts, the intermunicipal services provided by regional districts work well where they exist. Services are also provided to unincorporated areas surrounding mu-nicipalities in this fashion and participation in these joint services is voluntary on the part of individual municipalities and electoral areas. Since there seems to be no dissatisfaction with the current arrangements here, and since this need still exists, the best recommendation is to keep the status quo. 5.2.2. Regional Powers When considering regional powers it is necessary to raise the issue of regional com-munity of interest. The areas of municipal and provincial government interest should be re-viewed to determine if any of those areas are more properly exercised at a regional level. Such issues as environmental protection, transportation, pollution control and waste man-agement may be better governed at a regional scale. Consider the assessment of Van Vuuren in his examination of agricultural land conflicts: It is unlikely that local municipalities will implement planning programs and policies that are not directly to their benefit but [that] may be quite costly to them.... Moreover, one cannot expect that local governments and citizens understand clearly the cumulative effect of their decisions.... [Therefore] a discrepancy often exists between the goals of the jurisdiction performing and implementing planning and the broader goals of society that need to be satis-51 fied in sound land-use planning. This discrepancy is caused by the fact that not all benefits and costs resulting from planning implementation are internal to the jurisdiction carrying out the implementation. Therefore, if a regional approach is needed, only a regional authority can be expected to take appropriate action. Certainly both municipalities and the province would continue to have an interest in regional areas of authority, but these interests should be articulated spe-cifically and the power to address the remainder of the issues should be provided to regional districts. Another option is to provide regulatory power to the regional district and leave im-plementation to the municipal and provincial governments. This may cause friction over perceived "downloading" or mandates without resources and may also cause confusion re-garding who is responsible for addressing regional issues. On the other hand, it also keeps the current enforcement powers with the municipalities (in most cases) and therefore gives them flexibility that would not exist if regional districts themselves implemented the policies they promulgated. The best arrangement is to allow the regional districts to determine how to approach the regional issues - whether by direct action, through contractual arrangements, or setting regulations and allowing municipalities to work within them. The encouragement of regional planning is critical if regional districts are to carry out their intended function as coordinator and operator of regional services and other activities. Regardless of whether regional plans have any legal impact on municipal plans, municipali-ties clearly benefit from regional planning activities and should not be allowed to avoid pay-ing for this critical service. The current opt-out provision for municipalities inhibits regional district planning efforts. The testimony of many regional districts confirms this: Remove opt-out provisions from planning by municipalities. The opt-in/opt-out capability of municipalities in [regional district] planning makes financial and operational expenditures a joke. Eliminate the "opting-out of planning" provision for municipalities. It is ex-tremely difficult to budget, run a department and keep good staff with this type of uncertainty hanging over our heads on an annual basis. Because this option exists, our experience is that the planning department tends to become a political football and its funding used as a bargaining position in other ne-gotiations which may have nothing to do with the merits of the function per 52 One special consideration when making decisions about what is the regional commu-nity interest is sustainability. Locally, day-to-day decisions regarding sustainability must be made in support of the objectives of the larger community. This means that sustainability policy should be considered a regional community interest. There is no way for municipali-ties, with their constrained boundaries, to be able (or be expected) to not take actions that negatively impact their region if they provide immediate benefits to the municipality. Al-though municipalities can, and have, been conscientious of their regions in making decisions, it is politically naive to expect such consideration on a regular basis. This is a good example of where the regional district can be given powers to establish policies and regulations in support of sustainable development (including environmental protection, waste management, energy consumption, growth boundaries, etc.) but leave municipalities with the responsibility for making the day-to-day decisions enforcing the policies so long as they comply with the regulations. It may seem at first that Regional Growth Strategies satisfy the need for sustainable development policies. It is true that RGSs are encouraged to incorporate many issues in sup-port of sustainability principles and that municipalities are presently responsible for carrying out the RGS provisions within their boundaries. However, the present RGS legislation does not require a RGS to be developed for any particular region. Plus, any jurisdiction within the region can choose to not participate in the RGS. Clearly, to achieve sustainability goals, there can be no opting out. Pursuing sustainability has to include everyone - all should share in the sacrifice because all will enjoy the benefits. Considering these arguments, but also remembering that government is best exercised at a level closest to the people, the optimal power arrangement alternative from Chapter 4 would be Option #6 (residual powers to municipality, specific spheres of power to regional districts). This would provide broad powers to regional districts within certain spheres of influence relating to the regional community interest and provide all other residual powers of the province to municipalities. It must be stressed that regional community interests cannot be subject to the whims of municipal governments. In order for regional issues to be ade-quately addressed, regional districts must have authority to act across the entire region, inde-pendent of the concerns of individual municipalities and without provincial interference where there is no articulated provincial interest. There is concern from at least one regional district that new, broader powers may be problematic for some local governments to handle: "I would suggest 2 'planning' sets of rules.. .an option of choosing permissive or prescriptive.... Realistically, smaller jurisdic-tions like [ours] need prescriptive rather than permissive or the function of planning in rural areas will fail."97 Considering this concern, the province should retain the present structure of local government power and operation that provides certainty and uniformity to all local governments. Instead of automatically applying reforms to all local governments, the prov-ince should allow the local populace or the board or council to initiate a referendum to de-termine whether to take on the alternative power and structure arrangements for the local government. This is a system similar to establishing local government "home rule" in some U.S. states. In this way, local governments would be able to continue using the familiar sys-tem until the need or desire arose to change their internal structure or operations to accom-modate new or different local needs. 54 Chapter 6: Post Mortem 6.1. SUMMARY There has been much debate regarding the structure of regional districts over the years. While it has been accepted that a federation of local governments can be an effective way to structure regional governance for certain functions, it cannot be denied that the con-tinuing difficulties regional districts face relate back the that very structure. Evidence has been presented that demonstrates there is an even greater need now than in the past to address needs regionally; and there are even more needs to boot. It has been argued that the current structure promotes a lack of visibility and a question of accountability. The powers of re-gional districts also seem to be inadequate to the task of proactive, flexible regional govern-ment. 6.2. RECOMMENDATIONS The structural changes recommended in this research would not affect the federated arrangement - representatives would still be chosen on the basis of local jurisdiction (mu-nicipality and electoral area) - but their manner of selection should be changed. This is an area where change can be instituted in an incremental fashion. The recommendations are such that a fundamental change in representation can occur, but the speed at which this hap-pens is left to individual localities. The province has been reluctant to provide regional districts with the same governing powers possessed by municipalities, especially with regard to regional issues. This has caused regional districts to have actions delayed by approval processes time and again. If regional districts are expected to consider regional issues, those issues need to be designated as regional by the province so as to avoid conflict between municipalities and regional dis-tricts regarding who should be addressing those matters. This is an area where more radical change is needed. Although the designation of regional responsibilities can be done gradu-ally, their ability to undertake those responsibilities must be affirmed and strengthened im-mediately. The recommendations presented in Chapter 5 are summarized here: 1. Create elected Electoral Area Commissions (EACs) with an advisory role and the ability to accept delegated powers. 55 2. Elect regional board chair from the regional district at-large. 3. Provide local option for electing municipal representatives. 4. Create more public identity for regional districts. 5. Extend municipal representative terms to three years. 6. Formalize Electoral Area Director Committees 7. Make provincial oversight rules for regional districts the same as for municipali-ties where local government powers are substantially the same. 8. Identify issues that should be addressed regionally across the province. 9. Require regional planning in all regional districts and require municipal participa-tion. 10. Use power granting Option #6: provide regional districts with broad powers within certain spheres of influence (regional issues identified in item #8 above), and provide all other residual powers of the province to municipalities who choose to accept them. 11. Allow both regional districts and municipalities to decide individually whether to stay with the current system of granting local government powers or go to an al-ternate arrangement. 6.3. POTENTIAL FOR CHANGE It is easy, and perhaps accurate, to say that significant reforms to regional districts are unlikely to occur. In the past, regional district legislation almost always respected existing local government authority which means there has been very little room for change where municipalities have been reluctant to give ground. However, the time has come for munici-palities and the province alike to recognize that both will benefit from a strong, clearly de-fined regional level of government. Another potential strike against change resulting from this, and similar, research is the historical reluctance to use "outside" expertise - that is, outside of local government. Al-though it is too strong to say that any academic study of government automatically garners very little political support in B.C., it is curious that overtly academic studies seem to have languished in political purgatory like Hugo Ray's recommendations and the RDRC report. On the other hand, more seemingly politically-motivated provincial proposals or "grass-roots" recommendations, such as the original 1965 regional district legislation and the 1986 RDSC report, tend to become enacted. Then again, perhaps it is not so curious considering Dan Campbell's comments to the 1965 UBCM convention in Victoria: "I believe that the problems of local government, the directions that local government should take.. .should be 56 determined by those that work in the field. It is not my belief that outside experts, outside Royal Commissions, are a substitute for the thinking people who exist in the municipal field today, on the job, having lived with the problems."98 Since the province is the responsible party when it comes to local government crea-tion and reform, the easiest way to begin significant regional district reform is by adjusting provincial powers without reducing municipal powers. Where this is possible, such as granting specific regional responsibilities that are currently provincial, it should be made prominent as a gesture of good faith that the province is serious about making regional gov-ernment work - that regional government is a critical part of good government in British Columbia. It must be emphasized that everyone will win in the long run once regional issues are being treated as such. Municipalities must become more understanding of the benefit of relinquishing certain issues to regional oversight and concentrating on those issues that can only be effectively dealt with on a very local level. It has been demonstrated that a strong political leader can achieve significant changes in cooperation with, and in spite of, pre-existing power structures. Minister Dan Campbell managed to introduce a whole new level of power without incurring local wrath. His strat-egy, later termed "gentle imposition,"99 was largely successful due to his commitment and personality. Times have changed dramatically since regional districts came about in 1965. Today, B.C. needs another leader to bring local government into the twenty-first century. 6.4. FURTHER RESEARCH This study did not address all aspects of regional district reform, a few of which have been noted previously. The importance of financial independence needs to be considered for regional districts. The ability of a government to support itself with adequate sources of revenue over the long-term is critical to the viability of that government.100 The interrelationship of provincial ministries is in desperate need of improvement for everyone's sake, not just that of regional districts. Some comments from regional districts were noted in this thesis, however the Tools of the Trade report contains even more discus-sion in support of rationalizing relationships within the provincial government. Territorial issues were only touched on here and require further consideration. Un-fortunately, once local government boundaries are established, they often seem set in stone. The inhabitants and power structure set up to govern the local government become resistant 57 to changing the boundaries. However, the Regional District Review Committee offered im-portant recommendations for altering present regional district boundaries to make them more practical and effective. Those recommendations should be revisited in the context of new research on the impact of a globalized economy on British Columbia's regions. 58 Notes 1 Barclay Hudson, "Comparisons of Current Planning Theories: Counterpoints and Contradiction," Journal of the American Planning Association, 45.4 (1979). 2 Allison V. Christie, Effective City-Region Governance, thesis (Vancouver: UBC, 1998) 2. 3 Peter Oberlander and Patrick Smith, "Governing Metropolitan Vancouver: Regional Intergovernmental Relations in British Columbia," Metropolitan Governance: American/Canadian Intergovernmental Perspec-tives, Eds. Donald Rothblatt and Andrew Sancton (Berkeley, CA: University of California, 1993) 367. 4 Bish, 1990; Oberlander and Smith in Rothblatt and Sancton, eds., 1993; Diamant and Pike, 1994. 5 Regional District Review Committee, 1978; Regional District Survey Committee, 1986; Artibise, 1997. 6 In the study, effectiveness is determined based upon respondent-defined criteria: respondents identify the objectives a planning tool is expected to fulfill and then assess whether or not the tool has been effective in achieving the objectives. 7 Geoff Power, telephone interview, 26 July 1999. 8 CR. Tindal and S. N. Tindal, Local Government in Canada, 3rd ed. (Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited, 1990). 9 Local Government in British Columbia (Victoria: Department of Municipal Affairs, 1966) 2. 1 0 In the context of this study, "local government" is used to refer generically to a general purpose govern-mental entity (municipalities and regional districts), not special purpose entities (e.g. school districts, water and sewer districts, etc.) 1 1 Donald C. Rowat, The Canadian Municipal System: Essays on the Improvement of Local Government (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Ltd, 1969) part 4. 1 2 Department of Municipal Affairs, Regional Districts in British Columbia, 1971: General Review (Victo-ria, B.C.: Department of Municipal Affairs, [1971]) 5. 1 3 Tennant & Zirnhelt, "Metropolitan Government in Vancouver: The Strategy of Gentle Imposition," Ca-nadian Public Administration 16.1 (1973): 126. 1 4 Department of Municipal Affairs, Regional Districts 5. 1 5 Department of Municipal Affairs, Local Government in British Columbia (Victoria, B.C.: Department of Municipal Affairs, 1966) 11. 1 6 William Rees and Erik Karlsen, The Regional District and Environmental Management in B. C., Papers on Local Government (Vancouver: Centre for Continuing Education, UBC, 1973) 5. 1 7 Department of Municipal Affairs, Regional Districts 6. 1 8 Department of Municipal Affairs, Regional Districts 8. 1 9 Minister Campbell maintained that the new governance structure lacked two defining features of a gov-ernment: taxation and, in the case of municipal representatives, members elected directly by the public. 2 0 Robert W. Collier, "Evolution of Regional Districts in British Columbia," BC Studies 15 (1972): 33. 2 1 "B.C.'s Regional Boards Come of Age on Dec. 6," Vancouver Sun 5 November 1969: 46. 2 2 Dan Campbell, Summary Report of the Regional District Survey Committee (Victoria, B.C.: Ministry of Municipal Affairs, 1986) 4. 23 Regional Districts in British Columbia 1971: General Review, Department of Municipal Affairs, p. 6. 2 4 Executive Council, Order-in-Council #2888, 8 Sep. 1977. 2 5 Regional District Review Committee, Report of the Committee (Victoria: Ministry of Municipal Affairs, 1978) 1. 2 6 Review Committee 282-7. 2 7 Review Committee 13. 2 8 Review Committee 13. 2 9 Review Committee 44. 3 0 Review Committee 15. 3 1 Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Regional Government Reform: A Discussion Paper (Victoria: Ministry of Municipal Affairs, 1979). 3 2 Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Regional Government Reform, 17. 3 3 Patrick Smith, "Regional Governance in British Columbia," Planning and Administration 13.2 (1986). 3 4 Campbell 6. 3 5 Campbell 6. 59 3 6 B.C. Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, Georgia Basin Initiative: Creating a Sustain-able Future, addendum (Victoria: Queen's Printer, 1995) 14. 3 7 According to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs Growth Strategies Office website (, the Greater Vancouver and Nanaimo regional districts have completed regional growth strategies and the following five regional districts have RGSs under consideration or develop-ment: Fraser Valley, Thompson-Nicola, Central Okanagan, North Okanagan, Capital. 3 8 Alan Artibise, "Our New Regional Plan Needs a Plan - To Police Planners and Politicians," Vancouver Sun, 9 Nov. 1995. 3 9 British Columbia and UBCM, Protocol of Recognition, 1996, par. 5. 4 0 Rees and Karlsen 5. 4 1 John Popoff, telephone interview, 4 Aug. 1999. 4 2 Power, interview. 4 3 Harry Harker, telephone interview, 4 Aug. 1999. 4 4 Christopher Gawronski, Tools of the Trade (Victoria: Ministry of Municipal Affairs, 1999) 14. 45 Tools of the Trade, ch. 6. 4 6 Power, interview. 4 7 Jesse Hill, ed., Conveying Our Future (Vancouver: Centre for Human Settlements, UBC, 1992) 2. 4 8 Rowat 77. 4 9 Department of Municipal Affairs, Regional Districts 5. 5 0 In his 1988 report on regional district boundaries in the Lower Mainland, MacKay wrote: "The purpose of the regional district legislation was, and is, two-fold. First to provide a form of local government for unin-corporated areas while at the same time giving incorporated areas a measure of control over development on their fringes.... Second, to provide a mechanism for the delivery of municipal services to one or more incorpo-rated or unincorporated areas...." 5 1 Harker and Power, interviews. 5 2 All regional districts with, or considering, a regional growth strategy are in the most populous areas of the province: Southern Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland, Okanagan Valley. 5 3 Gawronski 74. 5 4 Christopher Bryant, "Rural Land-Use Planning in Canada," Rural Land-Use Planning in Developed Na-tions, Ed. Paul J. Cloke (London: Unwin Hyman, 1989) 180-1. 5 5 Alan F. J. Artibise and Jesse Hill, Governance and Sustainability in the Georgia Basin (Victoria: Queen's Printer, 1993) 18. 5 6 Thomas Adams, Rural Planning and Development (Ottawa: Commission of Conservation, 1917) 223. 5 7 Department of Municipal Affairs, Regional Districts 5. 5 8 See Tindal and Tindal, 1990; Hill, ed., 1992; Lightbody, ed., 1995; Prohl, ed., 1997. 5 9 Mark Roseland, Toward Sustainable Communities: Resources for Citizens and Their Governments, (Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers, 1998). 6 0 B.C. Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, Toward a Strategy for Sustainability (Victoria: B.C. Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, 1992) 62, quoted by Alan Artibise and Jesse Hill, Governance and Sustainability in the Georgia Basin (Victoria: Queen's Printer, 1993) 4. 6 1 Municipal Governance Institute, Renewal of Municipal Legislation (Vancouver: Municipal Governance Institute, [1997]) 15. 6 2 Hudson, 1984; Hutton, 1998; Lightbody, ed., 1995; Skelly, 1995; Christie, 1998. 6 3 Municipal Governance Institute 8. 6 4 Municipal Governance Institute 12. 6 5 Municipal Governance Institute 13. 66 Protocol of Recognition, 1996. 67 Sub-agreement, 1997. 6 8 Margaret Bowman and William Hampton, eds., Local Democracies (Melbourne: Longman Cheshire, 1983) 146. 6 9 Tindal & Tindal 83. 7 0 Lightbody, ed., 1995: 146. 7 1 Clarke & Stewart, 1991:46. 7 2 Clarke & Stewart, 1991. 7 3 Tindal & Tindal 87. 60 7 4 Thomas Cronin, Direct Democracy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989) 60-1. 7 5 Some recommended examples are: Butler and Ranney, eds., 1994; Cronin, 1989; Zimmerman, 1986. 7 6 Andrew Sancton, Governing Canada's City-Regions (Montreal: Institute for Research on Public Policy, 1994) 7-8. 7 7 Rowat 151-2. 7 8 Gawronski 71-73. 7 9 Gawronski (1999). 8 0 Hill in Hill, ed.: 14. 8 1 Jack Masson and Edward LeSage, Jr., Alberta's Local Governments (Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 1994) 424. 8 2 Note the distinction in section 1.1. 8 3 Masson and LeSage 423-4. 8 4 Tindal & Tindal 83. 8 5 Department of Municipal Affairs, Regional Districts 5. 8 6 Peter Diamant and Amy Pike, The Structure of Local Government and the Small Municipality, RDI re-port series, 1994-3 (Brandon University, 1994) 6. 8 7 Tindal & Tindal 87. 8 8 Gawronski (1999). 8 9 Gawronski (1999). 9 0 Robert Bish, Local Government in British Columbia, 2nd ed. (Richmond, B.C.: UBCM, 1990) 38. 9 1 Paul Tennant, personal interview, 8 July 1999. 9 2 Campbell 1. 9 3 Artibise & Hill 18. 9 4 Popoff, interview. 9 5 Gawronski 72. 9 6 Gawronski (1999). 9 7 Gawronski 68. 98 Minutes of the 62nd Annual Convention of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (New Westmin-ster, B.C.: UBCM, 1965) 80-1. 9 9 Tennant and Zirnhelt 127. 1 0 0 John Marshall and David Douglas, The Viability of Canadian Municipalities (Toronto: ICURR Press, 1997) ch. 5. 61 Bibl iography Adams, Thomas. Rural Planning and Development: A Study of Rural Conditions and Prob-lems in Canada. Ottawa: Commission of Conservation, 1917. Artibise, Alan F. J. and Jessie Hill. Governance and Sustainability in the Georgia Basin. Victoria, B.C.: Queen's Printer, 1993. "B.C.'s Regional Boards To Come of Age on Dec. 6." Vancouver Sun 5 Nov. 1969: 46. Bean, Wilf and Katherine A. Graham. Regional Government. Kingston, ON: Institute of Local Government, Queen's University at Kingston, 1983. Bish, Robert L. Local Government in British Columbia. 2nd ed. Richmond, B.C.: Union of British Columbia Municipalities, 1990. Bowman, Margaret and William Hampton, eds. Local Democracies: A Study in Compara-tive Local Government. Melbourne: Longman Cheshire, 1983. British Columbia. Executive Council. Order-in-Council #2888, 8 Sep. 1977. British Columbia. Local Government in British Columbia. Victoria: Department of Munici-pal Affairs, 1966. British Columbia. Local Government Statutes Amendment Act, 1998. 36th Pari., 3rd session. British Columbia. Municipal Act. R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 323. British Columbia. Department of Municipal Affairs. Regional Districts in British Columbia 1971: General Review: Victoria: Department of Municipal Affairs, [1971]. British Columbia. Ministry of Municipal Affairs. Growth Strategies Office. June 1999. Ministry of Municipal Affairs. 19 October 1999 <> British Columbia. Ministry of Municipal Affairs. Proposed Regional District Legislation: A Discussion Paper. Victoria: Ministry of Municipal Affairs, 1987. British Columbia. Ministry of Municipal Affairs. Regional District Legislation: A Resource Manual. Victoria: Ministry of Municipal Affairs, 1989. British Columbia. Ministry of Municipal Affairs. Regional Government Reform: A Discus-sion Paper. Victoria: Ministry of Municipal Affairs, 1979. British Columbia. Regional District Review Committee. Report of the Committee. Victoria: Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, 1978. 62 British Columbia and Union of British Columbia Municipalities. Protocol of Recognition. 18 September 1996. British Columbia and Union of British Columbia Municipalities. Protocol of Recognition Sub-agreement on a New Legislative Foundation for Local Government. 3 October 1997. B.C. Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. Georgia Basin Initiative: Creating a Sustainable Future. Victoria: Queen's Printer, 1995. Bryant, Christopher R. "Rural Land-Use Planning in Canada." Rural Land-Use Planning in Developed Nations. Ed. Paul J. Cloke. London: Unwin Hyman, 1989. Butler, David and Austen Ranney, eds. Referendums Around the World: The Growing Use of Direct Democracy. Washington, D.C.: The AIE Press, 1994. Campbell, Dan. Summary Report of the Regional District Survey Committee. Victoria: Ministry of Municipal Affairs, 1986. Christie, Allison V. Effective City-Region Governance: A Case Study of Local Economic Development in Greater Vancouver. Thesis. Vancouver: University of British Co-lumbia, 1998. Clarke, Michael and John Stewart. Choices for Local Government for the 1990's and Be-yond. Harlow, U.K.: Longman Group UK Ltd., 1991. Collier, Robert W. "The Evolution of Regional Districts in British Columbia." B.C. Studies, 15 (Autumn 1972), 29-39. Cronin, Thomas E. Direct Democracy: The Politics of Initiative, Referendum and Recall. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989. Crossley, Diane M. A Bibliography on Local Government in British Columbia. Victoria: Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Recreation and Culture, 1989. Diamant, Peter and Amy Pike. The Structure of Local Government and the Small Munici-pality. RDI report series; 1994-3. Brandon University, 1994. Gawronski, Christopher. Tools of the Trade. Victoria: Ministry of Municipal Affairs, 1999. Harker, Harry. Telephone interview. 4 August 1999. Hill, Jessie, Ed. Conveying Our Future: Proceedings of the Policy Workshop on Regional Governance in the Pacific Fraser Region. Vancouver: UBC Centre for Human Set-tlements, 1992. 63 Hudson, Barclay. "Comparisons of Current Planning Theories: Counterpoints and Contra-diction." Journal of the American Planning Association 45.4 (1979): 387-406. Hudson, Ray and Viggo Plum. Deconcentration or Decentralization? Local Government and the Possibilities for Local Control of Local Economies. UBC Planning Papers, Comparative Urban and Regional Studies, #12. Vancouver: UBC School of Commu-nity and Regional Planning, 1984. Hutton, Thomas A. The Transformation of Canada's Pacific Metropolis: A Study of Van-couver. Montreal: IRPP, 1998. Lassie, William R. Planning in Rural Environments. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1977. MacKay, Douglas L. Review of Regional District Boundaries in the Lower Mainland. West Vancouver, B.C.: Douglas L. MacKay P.Eng., 1988. Marshall, John A. and David J.A. Douglas. The Viability of Canadian Municipalities: Con-cepts and Measurements. Toronto: ICURR Press, 1997. Masson, Jack and Edward C. LeSage, Jr. Alberta's Local Governments: Politics and De-mocracy. Edmonton, Alberta: University of Alberta Press, 1994. Minutes of the 62nd Annual Convention of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities. New Westminster, B.C.: Union of British Columbia Municipalities, 1965. Municipal Governance Institute. Renewal of Municipal Legislation: Summary Results of June 20 and September 26, 1997 Symposia held at Simon Fraser University Harbour Centre. Vancouver: Municipal Governance Institute, [1997]. Popoff, John S. Telephone interview. 4 August 1999. Power, Geoff. Telephone interview. 26 July 1999. Rees, William E. and Erik Karlsen. The Regional District and Environmental Management in B.C. Papers on Local Government. Vancouver: Centre for Continuing Education, UBC, 1973. The Role and Limitations of Metro Government in Positive Urban Planning: A Dialogue With Dr. Peter Self. Occasional Papers 42. Vancouver: UBC Centre for Human Set-tlements, 1987. Roseland, Mark. Toward Sustainable Communities: Resources for Citizens and Their Gov-ernments. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers, 1998. Rothblatt, Donald N. and Andrew Sancton, eds. Metropolitan Governance: Ameri-can/Canadian Intergovernmental Perspectives. North American Federalism Project. 64 Berkeley, CA: Institute of Governmental Studies Press, University of California, 1993. Rowat, Donald C. The Canadian Municipal System: Essays on the Improvement of Local Government. The Carleton Library No. 48. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 1969. Sancton, Andrew. Governing Canada's City-Regions: Adapting Form to Function. Mont-real: Institute for Research on Public Policy, 1994. Skelly, Michael J. The Role of Canadian Municipalities in Economic Development. To-ronto: ICURR Press, 1995. Smith, Patrick J. "Regional Governance in British Columbia." Planning and Administration 13.2 (1986): 7-20. Tennant, Paul. Personal interview. 8 July 1999. Tennant, Paul and David Zirnhelt. "Metropolitan Government in Vancouver: The Strategy of Gentle Imposition." Canadian Public Administration 16.1 (1973): 124-138. Tindal, CR. and S. Nobes Tindal. Local Government in Canada. 3rd ed. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited, 1990. Van Vuuren, W. Policy Formulation and Implementation in Rural Land Planning. CRD Publication No. 100. Guelph, Ontario: Centre for Resources Development, Univer-sity of Guelph, 1980. Zimmerman, Joseph F. Participatory Democracy: Populism Revived. NY: Praeger, 1986. 65 Appendix Interviews were conducted with the following individuals on the dates indicated. The interview outline for regional district staff interviews appears on the next page. Harry Harker, Director of Planning, Comox-Strathcona Regional District. 4 August 1999. John S. Popoff, Planner, Regional District of Kootenay Boundary. 4 August 1999. Geoff Power, Manager Development Services, Columbia Shuswap Regional District. 26 July 1999. Dr. Paul Tennant, Professor, Department of Political Science, University of British Columbia. 8 July 1999. 66 Interview Outline Interviewee:. Date: Reminder that interview is voluntary and participant need not respond to any questions that he or she feels uncomfortable answering. 1. Generally, what would you say is the purpose or mission of your regional district? 2. Describe (1) your regional district's official role with respect to the following areas, and • Regional issues • Interjurisdictional/Fringe areas • Rural/Electoral areas 3. Identify the planning barriers you encounter in fulfilling your roles. 4. Can current planning powers be changed to help you meet your roles? How? 5. Do planners and politicians differ over the roles or mission of your regional district? How and why? 6. If you could make changes to regional district structures or powers, what changes would you make and why? 


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items