Elimination of Board of Variance



NCLGA Executive Recommendation: No Recommendation


WHEREAS Part 14, Division 15 of the Local Government Act requires local governments to appoint citizens to a Board of Variance, and provides for its mandate and operation;

AND WHEREAS Section 536(2) of the Local Government Act prohibits elected officials or Advisory Planning Commissioners from serving on the Board of Variance:

AND WHEREAS the Board of Variance is empowered to make land use decisions which could potentially overturn a decision of the duly elected municipal council or regional district board:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the NCLGA and UBCM lobby the Province to repeal “Division 15 - Board of Variance” of the Local Government Act in its entirety.


UBCM Comments:

The UBCM membership considered but did not endorse resolution 2012-B140, which asked the provincial government to amend the Local Government Act to allow local governments to opt out of the requirement to establish a board of variance.

At the time in 2012, the UBCM Resolutions Committee expressed discomfort with the idea of local governments opting out of the requirement to establish a board of variance. The Committee emphasized the absence of previous policy direction from the UBCM membership, and the independent role played by boards of variance.

In its comments on resolution 2012-B140, the UBCM Resolutions Committee noted that over the years, the membership had endorsed a number of resolutions on issues related to boards of variance, including appeal of decisions and limits to their authority (2000-B38; 1996-B59; 1996-A14). Members had also endorsed resolution 2006-B34, requesting legislative amendments to circumscribe the scope of powers of boards of variance, and to provide an adequate course of appeal for both citizens and local government councils.

The request made in the 2017 resolution goes beyond issues of scope of powers, instead proposing to eliminate boards of variance entirely.

By way of background, upon adoption of a zoning bylaw, a council or board must then establish by bylaw a board of variance (BOV). The BOV role is limited to the functions and responsibilities set out in s. 900-901 of the Local Government Act. A person may apply to the board of variance for a minor variance if they feel compliance with the bylaw would cause them a hardship. The council or board appoints members to the board of variance as per the Local Government Act. The local government is bound by the decisions of the board variance, subject to court review. Council or the board cannot direct the board in its decision making process.

North Central Local Government Association