Changes coming to the B.C. Societies Act

Changes have been made to the B.C. Societies act, which could come into effect as early as Jan. 1, 2016.

Changes are coming to the B.C. Societies Act.

The Act is changing because it’s an older piece of legislation, created in 1977, and is in need of modernization.

Some of the central goals of the revamp are to increase transparency, provide flexible governance structures, clarify record keeping, create more flexibility, and to distinguish between different types of societies- member funded vs. public.

There are currently about 27,000 different societies in B.C. These societies vary in size, purpose, scope, and sophistication.

“Every society is going to have to transition to the new act,” said Robyn Goldsmith of Forward Law, a company based out of Kamloops and Revelstoke. “All societies will have to start filing electronically, and most societies are going to have to update their bylaws and constitution.”

For some, this transition will be a minor project, for others it will be a significantly larger undertaking.

Along with being able to make changes electronically, there is a new concept for member funded societies vs. publicly funded societies. Member funded societies would be groups like professional associations, or sports clubs, places where members pay dues and receive a service. Publicly funded societies would be associations like charities, or groups that receive government funding.

Multiple classes of members can be created as well. There need no longer be more voting members than non-voting members in a society.

The new act will require more public disclosure as well. Societies are now required to disclose any remuneration paid to its directors, its 10 highest paid employees, and contractors earning over a certain amount of money. This requirement will not apply to member funded societies.

Other changes to the Act include rules regarding conflicts of interest for directors and senior manager will be strengthened, proxy voting may be allowed at members’ meetings, if they are permitted by the bylaws, and clarification surrounding record keeping.

The new act received the Royal Assent on May 14 and the act could come into effect as early as January 1, 2016.