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Overview Of Local Government Legislation

In This Volume

Local governments in British Columbia are established and governed under the authority of three primary statutes: the Community Charter, S.B.C. 2003, c. 26, the Local Government Act, R.S.B.C. 2015, c. 1, and the Municipal Replotting Act, R.S.B.C. 2016, c. 1. The Acts allow areas to incorporate as municipalities, improvement districts, or regional districts. Each incorporated area has certain powers appropriated for the operation of local government, including the powers to pass bylaws, assess and collect taxes, license and regulate businesses, construct public works, regulate the development of land, and acquire and dispose of property.

The Community Charter establishes broad principles for municipal governance including the powers of municipalities and their councils, the scope of their jurisdiction, and the interrelationship between local and provincial governments. The Community Charter recognizes the practice of open council meetings and addresses council proceedings, conflicts of interest, financial management, and accountability. It also provides for the raising of municipal revenues through fees and taxes.

The Local Government Act provides the legal framework and foundation for the establishment and continuation of local governments. It provides for the incorporation of municipalities and for the conduct of elections. It also provides specific powers to regional districts, recognizing them as independent, responsible, and accountable orders of government within their areas of jurisdiction. Finally, the Local Government Act addresses issues of planning and land use management, and heritage conservation.

The Municipal Replotting Act deals with replotting schemes continued from the former Part 28 of the Local Government Act.

Definitions in the Local Government Act apply to terms in the Community Charter. Similarly, unless a term is otherwise defined in the Local Government Act or a contrary intention appears in it, definitions in the Community Charter apply to terms used in the Local Government Act. Section 40 of the Interpretation Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 238 extends the application of terms defined in the Local Government Act and the Community Charter to all enactments relating to municipal and regional district matters.

GENERAL EFFECT ON LAND TITLE PRACTICE

A number of sections of the three Acts authorize filings in the land title office in the form of liens, charges, notices, and plans.

The Community Charter deals with the ownership, disposition, reservation, and dedication of municipal property. It confers general powers of expropriation on municipal governments and provides for the vesting of most highways in the municipal government. Part 5 of the Community Charter deals with the certification of municipal records and other evidentiary matters. Part 7 provides a comprehensive scheme for the collection, payment, and recovery of taxes and fees.

The Local Government Act deals with annual municipal tax sales, the registration of land use permits and the filing of building bylaws, subdivision plans, and notices of heritage property. The Act also provides specific legislation for regional and improvement districts.

The Municipal Replotting Act authorizes a municipal council to define a part of a municipality as a district for the purpose of replotting. The Act requires the council to file a notice of its resolution and its replotting plans in the land title office.

LIENS IN FAVOUR OF MUNICIPALITIES, REGIONAL DISTRICTS, AND IMPROVEMENT DISTRICTS

Liens and charges in favour of municipalities, regional districts, and improvement districts arise under the provisions of both Acts. See, for example, ss. 228, 245, 246, 250, and 259 of the Community Charter, and ss. 36, 400, 658, 667, 716, and 717 of the Local Government Act, all included or discussed in this part of the Manual. In this regard, also see s. 23(2)(c) of the Land Title Act, at chapter 3 (Land Title Act Part 3 (ss. 20 to 38)—Registration and Its Effect) in the Manual, which provides that every indefeasible title is subject to:

  • (c) a municipal charge, rate or assessment at the date of the application for registration imposed or that may after that date be imposed on the land, or which had before that date been imposed for local improvements or otherwise and that was not then due and payable, including a charge, rate or assessment imposed by a public body having taxing powers over an area in which the land is located;

CROSS REFERENCES AND OTHER SOURCES OF INFORMATION

Expropriation

The Expropriation Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 125 applies to municipal expropriations under s. 31 of the Community Charter and to regional district expropriations under s. 289 of the Local Government Act, except where there is a replotting under the Municipal Replotting Act. Where there are inconsistencies between an Act and the Expropriation Act, the Expropriation Act prevails. See s. 2(1) and (4) of the Expropriation Act in this Manual.

Islands Trust

The Islands Trust Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 239 continues the Islands Trust. The trust has two functions: land use planning and regulation, and trust fund administration. Local trust committees are responsible for local land use decisions. The Islands Trust Council, comprising local and municipal trustees, is the principal body for the trust’s administrative and land use policy decisions. A trust fund board (the Islands Trust Conservancy), as an agent of the government, administers the Islands Trust Fund and manages its land assets.

A number of provisions of the Community Charter and the Local Government Act apply trustees and trust councils, including bylaw powers and procedures, bylaw enforcement powers, and powers with respect to taxes in arrears.

Under s. 8(2)(a) of the Islands Trust Act, the Islands Trust Council may acquire and dispose of land. Under s. 8(3), the council must obtain the minister’s approval before incurring liabilities or borrowing money. Sections 29 to 34 set out requirements for land use and building permits and provide for the application of various related provisions of the Local Government Act, including, with some exceptions, Parts 14 and 15.

Resort Associations

Unlike mountain resort municipalities and mountain resort improvement districts, which are incorporated under ss. 8 and 676, respectively, of the Local Government Act, resort associations have an independent statutory origin. The Resort Associations Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 320, authorizes the minister to establish resort promotion areas and associations within municipalities or regional districts for the purpose of developing, maintaining, and operating resorts. Section 4 of the Act empowers a resort association to acquire and dispose of land.

Notation under Section 9

Under s. 9 of the Act, the registrar may, or on application by the resort association must, make notations on the titles of resort land, stating that the land is subject to the Resort Associations Act and the bylaws of the association filed with the registrar of companies. An application, which may be in Form 17, must include complete legal descriptions for all of the parcels in the resort area and must be accompanied by proof of corporate existence. A certificate of the registrar of companies certifying that the constating documents required under s. 3(6) of the Act have been filed in the corporate registry is preferred. The application must also contain a statement that the parcels described in it are located in the resort promotion area. Although the land title office does not verify the statement, the statement constitutes a representation to the registrar for the purposes of the Land Title Act. Any application that does not include the words “resort association” in the name of the association, as required by s. 3(4) of the Act, is refused.

Electronic Filing of Notation: The director has approved the use of the electronic Form 17 Charge, Notation or Filing. This form is available in Web Filing using a myLTSA Enterprise account.

For members of the Authorized Subscriber Register, use the Local Government Filing Form and select Nature of Interest, Resort Associations Act. No attachment is required.

For all other subscribers, use the Form 17 Charge, Notation or Filing, select Nature of Interest, Resort Associations Act Area—Establishment, and attach an image of the certificate issued by the registrar of companies. The application must include complete legal descriptions for all of the parcels in the resort area and must have the proof of corporate existence attached. A certificate from the registrar of companies certifying that the constating documents required under s. 3(6) of the Resort Associations Act have been filed in the corporate registry is preferred. The application must also contain a statement that the parcels described in it are located in the resort promotion area. Although the land title office does not verify the statement, the statement constitutes a representation to the registrar for the purposes of the Land Title Act. Any application that does not include the words “resort association” in the name of the association, as required by s. 3(4) of the Resort Associations Act, is refused.

Hardcopy Filing of Notation: An application may be in Form 17. The application must include complete legal descriptions for all of the parcels in the resort area and must be accompanied by proof of corporate existence. A certificate from the registrar of companies certifying that the constating documents required under s. 3(6) of the Resort Associations Act have been filed in the corporate registry is preferred. The application must also contain a statement that the parcels described in it are located in the resort promotion area. Although the land title office does not verify the statement, the statement constitutes a representation to the registrar for the purposes of the Land Title Act. Any application that does not include the words “resort association” in the name of the association, as required by s. 3(4) of the Resort Associations Act, is refused.

Levy under Section 10

Under s. 10 of the Act, a levy on an owner of resort land may, in default, be registered in the land title office in the same manner as a charge. The resort association must file a certificate setting out the name of the owner of the parcel, the complete legal description of the parcel, the amount of the assessment, and a statement that the assessment was levied under the bylaws of the association. The certificate must be signed by a person designated on the certificate as an authorized signatory of the resort association but need not be under seal. A certificate may also be filed against the registered interest of a person other than the owner, such as a lessee, if an assessment has been levied against that person.

Electronic Filing of Levy: On the Form 17 Charge, Notation or Filing, select Nature of Interest, Certificate of Levy, and attach an image of the certificate of levy.

Resort Municipality of Whistler

The Resort Municipality of Whistler Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 407 establishes the Resort Municipality of Whistler and the Whistler Resort Association. The municipality is deemed to be a district municipality for the purposes of the Community Charter and the Local Government Act, and the provisions of the two Acts apply unless there is an inconsistency with the Resort Municipality of Whistler Act or the regulations in which case the latter Act and regulations prevail.

The Whistler Resort Association is responsible for promoting, facilitating, and encouraging the development, maintenance, and operation of resort land. Pursuant to s. 19(2) of the Act, the registrar of land titles may, or on application by the association must, make the following notation on every indefeasible title of resort land: “This land may be subject to sections 12 to 20 of the Resort Municipality of Whistler Act and the bylaws of the Whistler Resort Association filed under the Societies Act.” Note that although the Society Act was repealed and replaced by the Societies Act, S.B.C. 2015, c. 18, s. 252, effective November 18, 2016 (B.C. Reg. 216/2015), the Resort Municipality of Whistler Act had not yet been amended and, at the date of the most recent update of this Manual, still referred in s. 19(2) to the Society Act. Section 20 authorizes the association to levy assessments under its bylaws against the owners of resort land. If an owner is in default, the association may issue a certificate showing the amount owing and register the certificate in the land title office in the same manner as a charge.

Electronic Submissions

On the Form 17 Charge, Notation or Filing, select Nature of Interest, Resort Municipality of Whistler—Certificate of Levy, and attach an image of the certificate of levy.

CASE LAW

This chapter of the Manual includes selected cases that consider land title issues under the Community Charter and the Local Government Act. The inclusion of cases under a particular section should not be considered as comprehensive coverage of the case law relating to that section.