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Archival description
British Columbia. Ministry of Municipal Affairs (1986-1988)
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Land use planning and management records

  • GR-3647
  • Series
  • 1950 - 2014

The series consists of records regarding the review and approval by the minister of bylaws concerning land use and planning, amendments to official community plans and their related amending bylaws and changes of zoning. These include case files for individual localities, in particular regional districts. The records were used for legal purposes, research and reference.

The records include a coded subseries, known as the "36 series," which documents planning bylaw review and approval, planning grant review and approval, and ministerial authorizations related to land use planning and management bylaws.

Planning bylaw review and approval involves planning bylaws that require ministerial approval (e.g., regional district, the Islands Trust, and the Resort Municipality of Whistler planning bylaws). Planning staff reviewed those bylaws in order to ensure that they did not conflict with provincial government interests.

Record types include correspondence, forms, briefing notes, bylaws, minutes, studies and reports, official community plans and their supporting documents, records regarding local committee meetings (agendas etc.) public hearings and workshops (public posting of notices, minutes from public hearings), responses from referral agencies (comments on bylaws by government agencies), documents regarding rezoning applications, petitions from the public and news clippings. Intermingled in the predominantly textual records are maps and engineering plans and some photographs. Records also include bylaw submission forms submitted with bylaws requiring approval of the minister.

The creator of the records used a coding system that assigned a code to each local government. For example, the regional district codes consisted of the two-digit alphabetic prefix “RD” for regional district followed by the alphanumeric coding system in use in the ministry responsible for municipal affairs at the time. In many cases the files would be labeled in such a way as to abbreviate the code. While the filing systems initially appear to be aimed at an alphabetical order, by locality, that order is often broken. Local government codes used in this record series can be found in Appendix D of the Administrative Records Classification System 1993 Edition. Some of the codes on files are extended with dashes or decimal numbers which represent subject categories.

The records were created by several ministries which carried out the functions and activities of provincial responsibility for local governments; in addition to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs (the name used at different times), the creators included: the Department of Municipal Affairs; the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing; the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Transit; the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Recreation and Culture; and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Recreation and Housing.

British Columbia. Ministry of Municipal Affairs (1993-1996)

Improvement district letters patent and bylaw register files

  • GR-3978
  • Series
  • 1922 - 2011

The series consists of improvement district letters patent and bylaw register files, 1922-2011. These records document the creation and dissolution of improvement districts, the approval and registration of their bylaws, and provincial government advice and support. Letters patent are the legal instruments for incorporating improvement districts in BC. They establish the name, boundary, services, voting procedures, and other fundamental aspects of each improvement district. Supplementary letters patent cover changes to improvement district boundaries, services, or the number of trustees. Improvement districts were initially created under the Water Act (SBC 1914, c. 81) to provide water and irrigation services to their residents. From 1914 to 1979, administrative responsibility for most improvement districts resided with the Office of the Comptroller of Water Rights (Water Rights Branch). In 1956, responsibility for improvement districts that provided fire protection came under the Dept. of Municipal Affairs, 1934-1976. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs (1978-1986) assumed administrative responsibility for all improvement districts in 1979 with the enactment of the Municipal Act (RSBC 1979, c. 290). This administrative responsibility continues under the Local Government Act (RSBC 2015, c. 1) with the following ministries: Municipal Affairs and Transit, 1986; Municipal Affairs, 1986-1988; Municipal Affairs, Recreation, and Culture, 1988-1991; Municipal Affairs, Recreation, and Housing, 1991-1993; Municipal Affairs, 1993-1996; Municipal Affairs and Housing,1996-1998; Municipal Affairs, 1998-2001; Community, Aboriginal, and Women’s Services, 2001-2005; Community Services, 2005-2008; and Community Development, 2008-2009. Regional districts, introduced in 1965, provide many of the services once provided by improvement districts so new improvement districts will not likely be created. All improvement district bylaws are filed with the ministry and some require registration with the Inspector of Municipalities before taking effect. Others do not require registration, taking effect upon adoption by the trustees of the improvement district.

The records include correspondence, indexes, letters patent and supplementary letters patent, orders in council, approval certificates, and maps. They are arranged alphabetically by improvement district name; some of the records also contain an improvement district number and code. The records were classified under 52000-40 (improvement district letters patent files) of the Local Government Services ORCS, 2006 (schedule 126379).

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

Municipal complaint case files

  • GR-3668
  • Series
  • 1939 - 1997

The series consists of written complaints and other correspondence on issues raised by the public, together with replies from public officials and records generated by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs Investigations Branch and Inspector of Municipalities. Examples of complaints include those concerning violations of zoning regulations or Board of Variance rulings, treatment of people at a municipal facility, property assessments and taxation, awarding of contracts, or allegations of conflict of interest and misuse of public funds. There are also many expressions of opinion in letters regarding public affairs including, for example, disputes over land use.

Each file includes a "master complaint form" at the front of the file which gives details in different parts of the form, including: the file number, the complainant in the case, the name of the investigator, the dates the complaint was received and date investigation was completed, the municipal area and location involved, the nature of the complaint, and the resolution of the case if any.

Each file title includes first the municipal area concerned and secondly a brief description of the nature of the complaint or issue involved. Complainant names are not in the file titles. The complainant’s name, address and telephone numbers is found on the master complaint form.

Other record types include correspondence, copies of zoning bylaws and community planning documents, committee and board meeting minutes, and news clippings.

Letters from the public were typically sent or copied to a chairperson of a municipality, the Premier or a cabinet minister (for example Minister of Municipal Affairs or Minister of Environment). In many cases the Inspector of Municipalities was involved with looking into the concern or complaint. The municipal bodies concerned include regional districts, cities and villages.

The records are evidence of the wide array of types of concerns raised by citizens, and they document the functions and activities of the ministry investigations branch.

The photographs in the series tend to have been used to support complaints made; they tend to be extraneous to the textual records which contain the main evidential and historic value.

British Columbia. Ministry of Municipal Affairs (1986-1988)

Local government bylaw advice and approvals

  • GR-3635
  • Series
  • 1914-2010

The series consists of records concerning bylaw advice and approvals (by the Province) for municipalities, villages, improvement districts and dissolved improvement districts. They include minister's orders, statutory approvals, and minister's authorizations of municipal and regional district bylaws and other requests.

These records show how the legal authority of the provincial government over local governments has been exercised over time. The records provide a history of the information, growth, structure, and activities of local government in British Columbia throughout most of the twentieth century, as well as documenting provincial government influence over these matters.

The series includes correspondence of the Inspector of Municipalities and of the Director of Municipal Administration division, regarding matters such as letters patent; election procedures; municipal status; capital loan bylaws; budget and tax rate bylaws; reserve fund bylaws; rates, charges and frontage tax bylaws; borrowing bylaws, and traffic bylaws.

The records include certificates of approval, with attachments such as the related bylaw or correspondence outlining the reasons for the requests for ministerial approval. They also include the minister’s approval register, which provides a summary of and index to ministerial approvals of municipal and regional district bylaws and other requests. The register contains the approval number, date of approval, name of municipality or regional district, and purpose of the bylaw. Records include lot plans, subdivision plans and other cartographic materials, and a small number of photographs.

The series also consists of records relating to the registration of village bylaws. From 1920 to August 17, 1998, villages were required to register their bylaws with the inspector of municipalities. This requirement began with the Village Municipalities Act (SBC 1920, c.65) and continued under the Municipal Act (s. 259(2). With the coming into force of Bill 31 in 1998, villages were no longer required to register their bylaws. They are now only required to submit for approval the same type of bylaws as other municipalities (e.g. loan authorization and security issuing bylaws).

Document types include various approved registered bylaws from municipalities, signed by the Minister and Inspector of Municipalities. Included are village bylaws, bylaws for villages that changed their status, and newly incorporated municipalities that were registered from 1920 to 1998, with attachments such as fee schedules or agreements.

Shannon files are boxed and contain at the front of the file a “resume” (index) of ministerial approvals arranged by approval number and date. They include the relevant municipality or regional district, purpose of the approval, and relevant act and section of act. These records are arranged alphabetically by name of municipality then numerically by bylaw number.

The series also consists of records of dissolved improvement districts, also created by various ministries and departments with the municipal affairs function. Within those departments and ministries, a division and office was responsible for local government services, and specifically responsible for overseeing the affairs of improvement districts throughout the province, including those handling waterworks, fire protection, and irrigation and drainage.

Records regarding the improvement districts include but are not limited to: first organization and letters patent, by-laws and their amendment, financial statements and annual returns, and dissolution of the improvement district. Improvement district records are located in accessions 88-0618, 91-0125 and 91-0296.

While some of the records were scheduled according to the Operational Records Classification System for “Local Government Services,” schedule #126379, many were classified by earlier systems.

British Columbia. Ministry of Municipal Affairs (1978-1986)

Regional and local government structure historical policy files

  • GR-3972
  • Series
  • 1912 - 1999

The series consists of records documenting the creation of regional and local government structures and policies, and subsequent amendments to these structures and policies. Many of the records were created during the development of the province’s regional and local government system starting with the Dept. of Municipal Affairs in 1934. Prior to this, municipal matters were administered by a municipal branch of the Dept. of the Attorney-General. The records were the responsibility of the following: Dept. of Municipal Affairs,1934-1976; Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, 1976-1978; Ministry of Municipal Affairs, 1978-1986; Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Transit, 1986; Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Recreation, and Culture, 1988-1991; Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Recreation, and Housing, 1991-1993; Ministry of Municipal Affairs, 1993-1996; Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, 1996-1998; and Ministry of Municipal Affairs, 1998-2001. The records cover the formation of regional districts, the role of regional district boards, and regional district services reviews by the provincial government. They also cover regional planning and other related issues such as land use for park purposes and subdivisions, refuse and sewage disposal, air quality/pollution, public transportation, fire protection, taxation, cost-sharing between different levels of government, property tax, and other financial matters. The records also include bylaw approvals, letters patent, supplementary letters patent, and amendments to electoral areas. The records were created under the Local Services Act (RSBC 1996, c. 276) and the Local Government Act (RSBC 1996, c. 323).

The records are arranged by regional district name and regional district coding system or by topic. They consist of correspondence, minutes and agendas, reports, maps, bylaws, letters patent, news clippings, and contracts. They were initially regional district day to day operational files so were also assigned bylaw advice and approvals ORCS numbers (51030, 51040) from the Local Government Services ORCS, 2006. The function of these records changed when the program area started collecting and using them as regional and local government structure historical policy files. This artificial collection was eventually classified as policy and procedures files (55000-00), reflecting the final purpose of this record series.

British Columbia. Dept. of the Attorney-General

Municipal corporation case files

  • GR-3992
  • Series
  • 1974 - 1996

The series consists of records documenting situations where municipalities establish or join corporations for the purpose of carrying out commercial activities such as community forests or purchasing shares in a company to build infrastructure, such as arenas. Local governments may enter into these arrangements because they want a separation of authority to shield local taxpayers from potential legal or financial risks. The records relate to commercial, industrial or business undertakings, including local government resolutions approving the incorporation of or purchase of shares in a company, the agreement between the local government and the company, and articles of incorporation. The Local Government Act (RSBC 1996, c. 323) provides that a local government may engage in commercial, industrial or business undertaking and incorporate a company or buy shares in a company already involved in the undertaking with the requirement that the local government receive approval from the Inspector of Municipalities. The records were created between 1974 and 1996 by the ministry responsible for municipal affairs.

The records are arranged by local government classification and then by the name of the municipality or regional district. They include correspondence, copies of local government resolutions, and copies of articles of incorporation. The records are classified as municipal corporation case files (54030-60) under the 2006 version of the Local Government Services ORCS.

British Columbia. Ministry of Municipal Affairs (1993-1996)