Local Government Information

A Primer on Local Government

Local government is everywhere! No matter where you live in BC, local government is part of your daily life. From elections to bylaws to land use planning, local government is there. Whether it’s sidewalks and streets, pools or arenas, garbage collection, clean water and more, you use a service provided by your local government every day.

What is local government? Local governments are citizens elected by citizens. It is the most accessible and responsive level of democratic government in Canada. Local government plays two roles in the lives of its citizens. First, local government is a political body, elected to allow its citizens a voice in the direction and manner in which a city grows and prospers. Second, local government is a service provider, tasked with ensuring the community has access to the daily services that allow it to function. In short, elected council members set the direction and policy of government while city staff attend to the operational needs of the organization. 

But who created local government? The Canadian Constitution gives provincial governments exclusive power to establish municipalities in Canada. Each province has municipal legislation that governs the powers, rights and authorities granted to a municipal government by the province. In BC, a collection of laws under the Local Government Act and the Community Charter establishes the legal framework in which a municipality must work. 

LG graphicHow can I be more involved? There are so many ways to become involved in your local government! The first and easiest is to take a few minutes to browse upcoming Council meeting agendas and read about City projects on Talk Revelstoke. If an item interests you, delve deeper! Read staff reports and recommendations, educate yourself on the issue and better yet, attend council meetings (live or virtually) and listen to council discuss and debate items. Council meetings are also uploaded to the City of Revelstoke YouTube channel, so you can watch at your leisure. Right now, you’re thinking you’d rather watch paint dry, right? Well, we all know that the more you know about a subject, the more interesting it is, and you just might be surprised at how interesting a rezoning application really can be! The best part of doing your own research and being informed is that you have a much better sense of what is going on in your community at the local government level.

If you want to take your involvement to the next level, consider volunteering your time and expertise on a City committee. Committees play an important role in helping to shape City policy by making recommendations on issues of importance to the community. Committees usually meet monthly or bi-monthly and provide another avenue for you to learn more about how local government works to meet the needs of its citizens. The City of Revelstoke has a variety of committees that focus on issues such as the environment, social needs, public art, youth and more. Take a few minutes to read some committee agendas and minutes of interest to you. You can find these and the committee application on the City’s website. 

Looking for even more ways to get involved in your local government? Well, you could always run for office – if you have passion for your City and are able to consider all sides of an issue, this just might be the right fit for you! If that’s too much commitment and you just want to discuss a few specific issues, reach out to your councillors. They will listen to your concerns and may direct you to the appropriate City staff for further assistance. And last, but by no means least, VOTE! This is the simplest way to make your opinion count!

We take time in our lives to get to know the people that are important to us, those that make a difference in our day-to-day world. Local government has an impact on our lives every day, from policy decisions to the roads we drive on, so isn’t it worth investing the time to get to know your local government?