Under the Community Charter, local governments such as the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George may use an Alternative Approval Process (AAP) to directly engage citizens about a proposed bylaw or other matter requiring elector approval. An AAP can be used for various initiatives such as a proposed bylaw to undertake long-term borrowing, a boundary extension, to establish a new regional district service, or other matter requiring approval of the electorate.
A staff report is provided to the Regional District Board of Directors that describes the plan for conducting the AAP. It includes key information about the proposed elector approval process to ensure elected officials fully understand the implications of using an AAP to obtain approval. The report also provides staff with an opportunity to plan the process to conduct the potential AAP.
At a Regional District Board meeting, the Board of Directors will direct staff to proceed with obtaining the approval of a bylaw, agreement, or project by the electors through an Alternate Approval Process. Staff will then bring a report forward to the Board of Directors at an open meeting, which will outline the proposed advertising dates for the AAP, the proposed deadline for receipt of responses, the estimated number of electors, and the proposed “elector response form." The Board of Directors must approve these by resolution and, following that, the response forms are made available to the electors.
A notice of an AAP will be published once a week for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper distributed in the area defined for the process (multiple newspapers if region-wide). Eligible electors have at least 30 days from the publication of the second notice to submit elector response forms to the local government corporate officer before the AAP deadline. Forms received after the deadline has passed cannot be counted. When 10 per cent or more of eligible electors sign and submit response forms, local governments cannot proceed with the proposed matter without first holding an assent vote (i.e. referendum).
The Regional District is required to make a fair determination of the number of electors affected by the AAP. The actual number of electors will vary from case to case depending on the specific municipalities and/or electoral areas participating in the service or initiative. The standard method for determining the total eligible voters within a given area is to use existing demographic data available through voter enumerations and other similar sources. Where these are not available the use of census and other data modified to fit local circumstances and eligibility requirements will be used. The number of electors required to force a referendum or other vote must be determined publicly by the Regional District, and a report outlining the methodology for the determination must be made available for public scrutiny