Omnibus: Becoming a Good Sustainability Planning Practitioner

27th September 2010

Session 2: 2.25 - 3.10

Introduction to Government and Governance - Provincial & Territorial


The governmental organization for the Provinces of Canada is similar to that of the Federal Government in many ways and sometimes only varies in the titles. For example in British Columbia there is a Lieutenant Governor (instead of a Governor General), a Premier (Prime Minister), a Legislative Assembly (Parliament), Ministries (Departments) and Supreme Court of BC. Notably the Provinces do not have an upper house (Senate). There are some differences among the 10 Provinces but they are much the same (e.g. the words Legislative Assembly, National Assembly, Provincial Parliament and House of Assembly are variously used). The 3 Territories are today in the process of moving towards province-like status and systems although they too vary.

In the Provinces governments are formed by electing representatives from constituencies and candidates are members of provincial political parties that tend to be formally separate from federal parties of the same name (although there may be all kinds of cooperation and alliances in practice). In British Columbia we elect Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) to the presently 85 seat Legislature. The BC Liberal Party is currently in power (45 members) and the opposition is formed by the New Democratic Party of BC (39); there is currently 1 vacancy.

In the second session we will examine the roles of the BC Provincal Government along with selected other governance organizations, through selected key examples relating to sustainability and planning. Review the ministry and crown agency web sites listed below to begin developing your familiarity with who does what while thinking about responses to the questions on the agenda below in preparation for the session's discussions.

The amount of information available to you here is again enormous and frequently changing. Even more than the Federal Government , the BC Government has attempted to have a consistent and integrated approach to its web sites. You will also find that there has been a substantial effort under the Liberal Government to re-organize the structure of the ministries to re-orient them to a more business-like, customer service orientation. You should endeavour to develop and maintain your knowledge of this organization over time. To the extent that this is new to you, I suggest you begin by looking at the the home pages for the listed ministries and their divisions/branches. Information of the "About Us" kind is more likely to be found for the sub-divisions or branches. Then selectively look more searchingly into the topic areas of particular interest to you.


Beginning with the home page for the BC Government there is some emphasis being given by the Liberal Government to new policies relating to sustainability (although this term is not always used) but notably this has slipped from the major emphasis 12 months ago. In the last couple of years LiveSmart BC has been used as the branding for the suite of initiatives. From this page note the links into many different ministries and their programs. If you go into some of the links you will find that they are generally narrower in coverage and less developed in terms of provincial government action than their title might suggest.


Ministry of Community and Rural Development

The Local Government Department We will look at this site in more detail for today's third session.

Community Adjustment Office

BC Housing An example of a crown corporation.

Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General

Provincial Emergency Program

Ministry of Finance

Ministry of Small Business, Technology and Economic Development

Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

BC Transit

Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts

Natural Resources

Crown Land Fact Sheet

Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources

BC Hydro and Power Authority

Ministry of Forests and Range

Ministry of Agriculture and Lands

Integrated Land Management Bureau

Provincial Agricultural Land Commission

Fisheries and Aquaculture

Ministry of Environment

Water Stewardship Division

Environmental Protection Division

Ocean and Marine Fisheries Branch

Environmental Assessment Office


Ministry of Health Services

Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport

Community Living BC

Ministry of Children and Family Development

First Nations

Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation

Intergovernmental Organizations

Union of BC Municipalities UBCM

First Nations Relations at UBCM

BC Treaty Commission

Islands Trust


  1. Each of the Canadian Provinces is different in many regards and hence has differing governance structures and relations with the Federal Government. What are the factors influencing the differences in governance structure and relations? How do these manifest themselves in the BC governance system?
  2. What are the roles of the BC provincial government (i) in developing and implementing sustainability policies and (ii) in undertaking planning under the Canadian Constitution's division of powers?
  3. Where are planners at work in the BC Provincial Government?
  4. How does the BC Provincial Government address land use? Urban affairs? Who does planning and sustainability research?
  5. Looking at sustainability planning areas that are of particular interest to you, what strikes you most strongly about the character of the Provincial Government's activities? What questions do you have about them?