The Union of British Columbia Muncipalities passed a resolution opposed to the new “legal” definition of Mountain Resort Municipalities as amended by the legislature in a closure bill last spring. The changes to the Local Government Act allow the province to create a “Mountain Resort Municipality” with no residents, appointing a city council to make decisions with no democratic representation. The legislature’s move was seen as paving the way for the Jumbo ski resort proposed in the Purcell mountain range near Invermere. The local government act requires the minister to consult with the UBCM prior to any changes, but the Minister merely advised UBCM that the act would be changed.

The UBCM made the following resolution:

WHEREAS regional districts are a legal and accepted form of local government in BC elected by rural communities to represent an manage the land-use and development interests of local taxpayers;
AND WHEREAS the creation of a resort municipality within an electoral area and appointment of a council directed by a resort developer is contrary to the principles of democratic government and sets an undesirable precedent:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that UBCM ask the Ministry of Community, Sport & Cultural Development to consider a governance structure for mountain resort municipalities that includes elected representatives responsible for land-use decisions for a permanent population of at least 200 people;
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that UBCM does not support the concept of an unelected body making land use decisions for an area with no population.

RESPONSE: Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development

The Local Government Act was amended in 2012 to clarify existing government policy in relation to the authority to incorporate a mountain resort municipality whether or not there are residents in the area at the time of the incorporation. The 2012 amendments ensure the effectiveness of the 2007 Local Government Act amendments related to the incorporation of mountain resort municipalities in certain circumstances.

Municipal incorporation of an area prior to the arrival of residents is not new in British Columbia. In fact, many existing British Columbia communities were incorporated prior to having stable resident populations, such as Tumbler Ridge, Elkford and Logan Lake. While those communities were incorporated in relation to resource development, government supports the use of a similar approach to enhance mountain resort development.
Incorporating an area prior to the arrival of residents means that a mayor and council need to be appointed by government until such time as a stable resident population is established within the incorporation area. Appointments to council have been used previously in British Columbia in several resource based communities and in all of those communities, appointed individuals were replaced with elected council members as the communities grew and stable resident populations were established.
While the concerns expressed in this resolution relating to the form of such an incorporation are noted, government remains of the view that incorporating an area prior to the arrival of residents can, in limited circumstances, support the early development of mountain resorts by providing the strong foundations necessary for well planned resort communities with high quality services and public amenities.