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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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

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 adequately address regional needs, the specific regional responsibilities must be identified, and powers must be granted that are broad enough to tackle the regional responsibilities. Because the granting of broad powers may be overwhelming to many less-sophisticated municipalities and regional districts, the province should provide an option for local governments to stick with the current system of express powers or to use the grant of broad powers.

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