The Powell River Regional District is one of twenty-nine regional districts in BC. Regional districts were created by the province of British Columbia in 1965 as a response to demands for services from residents living in areas that lay outside the boundaries of existing municipalities.
As federations of municipalities and electoral areas, regional districts can provide a broad range of services with the exception of roads and policing. The choice of services is determined by the regional board but those services can only be established (e.g. set up) with the support of the electors. Therefore, the breadth of services varies with each regional district according to its circumstances and local desires.
Regional districts also provide administrative services including capital borrowing for all members and act as a political forum for local government policy.
For more general information, see the Regional District Toolkit prepared by the Union of BC Municipalities.
How Services are Established
All regional districts follow the same basic process to establish new services:
- The idea emerges from citizens, municipal councils, the regional board or individual electoral area directors.
- A feasibility study determines exactly what the new service will do, what parts of the region will participate, how the service will be governed and how the cost will be shared.
- If the proposed service is deemed feasible, a service establishing bylaw is developed.
- This bylaw must be approved before the service is set up. Approval is commonly given by electors in the service area, either through voting or through the alternate approval process. In some situations the bylaw may be approved by the directors. The bylaw approval process includes setting a taxation limit for the service.
How Services are Structured
- Region-wide Services
All members of a regional district participate in these services. The cemetery and regional parks are examples in our regional district.
- Services to Groups of Electoral Areas
Any electoral areas can join together to provide a service. For example, electoral areas A, B, C and D jointly participate in planning and only properties in those areas are taxed for this service. The city may also join with one or more electoral areas to provide a service. An example is the 911 service which is provided to the City of Powell River and all electoral areas except Lasqueti Island.
- Services to a Single Electoral Area
A single electoral area can have any number of services. For example, only Texada Island (Area D) taxpayers contribute to the Texada Airport, the Texada Recreation Service and the Texada Health Centre and only Lasqueti taxpayers (Area E) contribute to their marine ramp and ﬁre department.
- Services to Part of One or More Electoral Areas
Three of the regional district’s volunteer ﬁre departments (VFDs) fall into this category: the Savary Island and Northside VFDs each serve part of Electoral Area A; Malaspina VFD covers private land in Area B but goes only as far south as Thunder Bay in Area C. Other examples are the Lund sewer and Myrtle Pond water service which each serve a small number of parcels within an electoral area. Note that properties lying outside ﬁre department boundaries do not pay for or receive ﬁre protection services.
How Services are Financed
Every service has its own group of participating areas (electoral areas, municipalities) and only those participants pay for the service. Each service has its own separate budget – revenues and costs cannot be shifted from one service to another and no service is permitted to run an operating deficit.
The main revenue source for regional district services is the property value tax, which is based on assessed value. Parcel taxes (i.e. a flat rate for each lot in the service area) and fees are other, minor revenue sources. Property value and parcel taxes are collected on behalf of the regional district by other governments. In participating electoral areas, taxes are collected for the regional district by the province’s Surveyor of Taxes. In participating municipalities, regional district taxes are collected by the municipal governments. Click here for more local tax information.
The Powell River Regional District provides a modest number of services to its members. See our Chart of PRRD Services for a complete list.