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Simon Shields, LLB

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Simon Shields,
LLB

Barrister and Solicitor
(Retired)
LSUC #37308N


simonshields@isp.com

Legal Writing and Research

Local Government Act (BC)

(current to 01 July 2016)
Note Re Application of the Local Government Act('LGA')

The Local Government Act is BC's version of Municipal Acts which are in force in each Canadian Province. For the most part they do not themselves establish substantive law applicable to animals, but rather they set out the jurisdiction granted to municipalities to make by-laws or ordinances in relation to animals. BC's law, while it embodies that traditional delegation of jurisdiction to municipalities, is an exception to this rule in that it may be interpreted to branch out into other substantive jurisdictional areas, as noted below.

That said, the determination of what current jurisdiction any BC municipality has over wild animals is an awkward matter of statutory interpretation, as is explained below.

This law bears on the wildlife issues of:
  • OWNERSHIP/POSSESSION
  • PROTECTION
  • FACILITIES
  • EUTHANASIA
  • MUNICIPAL JURISDICTION

The full current text of the Local Government Act and it's Regulations may be viewed at the British Columbia statute website.
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While most of the LGA provisions addressing animals [LGA 318-322] deal with the tradition municipal authority over nuisance (ie. dogs), there are general provisions that (at least supperficially) apply to all animals, both domestic and wild. Specifically: a local government may pass by-laws that regulate or prohibit the keeping of "dogs, horses, cattle, sheep, goats, swine, rabbits or other animals and define areas in which they may be kept or may not be kept" [LGA 318(1)].

However that key term 'other animals' is restricted to animals that a municipality had [LGA 318(2)] "authority to regulate in respect of, or prohibit the keeping of, under section 703 of the Local Government Act , R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 323, as it read immediately before its repeal and replacement by the Community Charter Transitional Provisions, Consequential Amendments and Other Amendments Act, 2003".

That old version of s.703 is quoted here [Note: taken from Consol 8 of the BC Statute archives]:
703(1) A council may, by bylaw, do one or more of the following:

(a) regulate or prohibit the keeping of dogs, horses, cattle, sheep, goats, swine, rabbits or other animals and define areas in which they may be kept or may not be kept;

(b) regulate or prohibit the keeping of poultry, pigeons, doves or other birds and define areas in which they may be kept or may not be kept;

(c) regulate or prohibit the moving and keeping of bees and define areas in which they may be kept or may not be kept;

(d) regulate or prohibit kennels or other places for the keeping, training, care, breeding, treatment, hospitalization or boarding of dogs, cats, fur bearing animals or other animals, whether domesticated or undomesticated and, in relation to this,

(i) define areas in which those places are permitted or are not permitted, and
(ii) define for different species of animals what constitutes a kennel and what is deemed a fur bearing animal;

(e) in relation to cattle within the meaning of subsection (3), regulate or prohibit
(i) the running of cattle on a highway or public place,
(ii) the straying of or trespassing by cattle on a highway or public place or private property, and
(iii) the grazing of cattle on unfenced land, unless they are securely tethered;

(f) in relation to cattle within the meaning of subsection (3) that are subject to a bylaw under paragraph (e), provide for the impounding of those cattle;

(g) regulate or prohibit the running of poultry or rabbits on a highway or public place, or the straying of or trespassing by poultry or rabbits on a highway or public place or private property, and the grazing of poultry or rabbits on unfenced land, and provide for the impounding of the poultry or rabbits.

(2) A bylaw under subsection (1) may be applicable to all or any defined area of the municipality and the regulations may be different for different areas.

(3) For the purpose of subsection (1) (e) and (f), "cattle" includes any horse, mule, swine, sheep, goat, cow or other animal of the bovine species.
As such, the 'other animal' matters over which municipalities had regulation and prohibition authority at that time, and thus possess today [by operation of LGA 318(2)] appear to be limited to:
  • regulating and prohibiting the keeping of "pigeons, doves or other birds" [old 703(1)(b)];

  • regulating and prohibiting "kennels or other places for the keeping, training, care, breeding, treatment, hospitalization or boarding" of "fur bearing animals or other animals, whether domesticated or undomesticated" [Old LGA 703(1)(d)].
However, in addition to the authority to regulate and prohibit respecting such animals, municipalities also have authority (under it's current pound provisions) with respect to such animals to [LGA 320]:
  • provide for their seizure, impounding and detention if they are "unlawfully at large";

  • "establish, maintain and operate facilities as pounds";

  • "regulate and establish the fines and fees, including damages for trespassing on private property, to be levied and collected by pound keepers";

  • "provide for the sale or destruction of animals impounded if the fines, fees and other charges are not paid within a reasonable time".
Overall, BC's municipal jurisdiction is typical of traditional municipal jurisdiction over animals, which is designed to deal with animals in their capacity as nuisance. However, with careful interpretation it might be expanded in by-laws to to regulate and prohibit the keeping of wild and exotic animals, either as pets or by facilities such as zoos and circuses, for non-nuisance reasons such as animal protection.


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