Improvement Districts

The Glenmore-Ellison Improvement District is an improvement district operating within the boundaries of the City of Kelowna and the Regional District of Central Okanagan. 

Improvement districts are autonomous local government bodies responsible for the provision of one or more local services for the benefit of the residents in a community.  These districts vary considerably in size - from small subdivisons to urban communities.

Improvement districts are usually located in rural areas of the province where there was no alternative form of local governance available, suitable, or desirable for the community.  They are similar in structure to a municipality but are more informal and only provide direct services such as waterworks, fire protection or street lighting. 

There are more than 200 improvement districts operating in BC.  Improvement districts operating within the City of Kelowna boundaries are:  Black Mountain Irrigation District, South East Kelowna Irrigation District and Rutland Waterworks, as well as Glenmore-Ellison Improvement District.  These districts have a sole purpose, to supply water within their designated boundaries.

Improvement districts are brought into existence by the provincial government through Cabinet Orders which authorize the passage of a document known as Letters Patent.  The Letters Patent contain the name of the improvement district, its boundary and the services which it will provide to the residents within that boundary.

Improvement districts are administered by an elected board of trustees, one of whom has the additional duty of chair.  Each trustee is elected for a three-year term by the eligible landowners of the improvement district. 

The improvement district's Letters Patent, applicable sections of the Local Government Act, and other applicable provincial statutes outline the powers that can be exercised by the board of trustees. These powers include the ability to enact and enforce its regulations and charges, to assess and collect taxes, to  acquire, hold and dispose of lands, to borrow money and to expropriate land required to carry out its functions.  The board of trustees exercise these powers through the passage of resolutions and bylaws.

Although improvement district are independent public corporations, they are also subject to supervision by the BC Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.  Certain bylaws passed by the board of trustees must be registered with the Inspector of Municipalities and those bylaws are not effective until that approval is granted.  Other bylaws are exempt from registration with the Inspector and they are effective immediately upon passage of a resolution by the board of trustees.  The bylaw is then submitted to the Ministry for filing. 

As improvement districts are regulated under the provisions of the Local Government Act, they are not subject to reviews by the BC Utilities Commission.  

Improvement District Associations

The Ministry works closely with the two largest Improvement District Associations in the province.  The Ministry consults with both associations on new, or changes to, existing legislation and provides educational materials for matters pertaining to improvement district finance, administration and operations.

The Water Supply Assocation of BC (WSABC) represents approximately 55 community water purveyors in the Okanagan and Kootenay regions.  The WSABC has been in place for over 75 years and provides many services to its members including education (workshops and training sessions); government lobbying; partnering with government and non-government agencies; presentations on service related issues; and communication amongst members.  GEID is a member of this association.

The Coastal Water Suppliers Association (CWSA) represents 53 community water purveyors on Vancouver Island, the Gulf Island and the Sunshine Coast.  It provides similar services to the WSABC.