District of Summerland spearheading meeting with other district municipalities from around province to discuss mutual issues

Discussing mutual issues

Representatives from district municipalities around B.C. this week including the District of Summerland, with the goal of discussing issues unique to their type of government, particularly with respect to working with the province.

The initiative was started by the District of Summerland, and will take place at the Union of BC Municipalities annual convention in Vancouver.

"Attendees will speak about what it means to be a district municipality, consider the issues and discuss opportunities for co-operation and collaboration," reads a press release from the District of Summerland.

"It’s believed to be the first such meeting of district municipality elected representatives."

District municipalities are defined by the provincial government as "local government for communities with a population density of fewer than five people per hectare at the time of incorporation," with both rural and urban dwellings.

Forty-nine exist in B.C., all of which will be sending delegates like mayors and council members to the meetup.

The smallest district municipality, Wells, has a population of 218 while the largest, Langley, has a population of 132,603. Summerland lands at 12,042 as of the most recent census.

“Each is unique but one challenge many of us have in common is the very thing that makes us a district – our small population relative to our land base,” said Summerland Mayor Doug Holmes.

“In Summerland, 86 per cent of our land has some kind of restriction limiting development and therefore contributes less than three per cent of our property tax revenues. Yet infrastructure demands like road maintenance in these areas are increasing. We never get far when speaking to the province about this concern so council wondered if there were other municipalities in the same boat with whom we could advocate together. If so, they’re most likely to be a district municipality, and UBCM seemed the logical place to start a conversation.”

Mayor Holmes wrote to all the other mayors to test interest in getting together. When the response was positive, district staff worked with UBCM convention organizers carve out a meeting time and location on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023.

Representatives from Summerland and all other municipalities will attend many other meetings throughout the week. UBCM sees local, provincial, and Indigenous governments with a goal of collaborative work towards key policy issues.

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