BC Societies Act Transition
The new BC Societies Act came into force on November 28th, 2016 and replaced the old BC Society Act. All societies that were incorporated under the old Act have two years to transition and amend their bylaws to comply with the new Act. The transition process affects every organization in BC that was incorporated under the old Act – from PSOs to local clubs.
As of November 2017, one year will have passed and organizations will only have a single year to transition. Transition must be approved at a meeting of the members (preferably your AGM). Action must be taken – you will not be able to transition successfully without taking action.
Transition to compliance with the new Societies Act will involve a number of changes to your organization’s governing documents. Some of the main changes include:
- Special resolutions. Previously, special resolutions required 3/4ths of the votes cast. In the new Act, a special resolution require only 2/3rds of the votes cast.
- Non-voting members. Previously, non-voting members were allowed but they could not outnumber the voting members. In the new Act, the limitation on non-voting members is removed.
- Member AGM proposals. Previously, societies are not required to accept member-proposed agenda items at an AGM. In the new Act, members are permitted to propose an agenda item (such as a bylaws amendment) provided it is signed by 5% of the voting members and is not overly similar to a previous proposal.
- Public access. Societies are now required to submit specific information to the government which will be available in a database accessible to the public. Societies that are “public-funded” will need to submit more information.
- Constitution. Previously, constitutions could include a name, statement of purpose, statement of activities, a statement of non-profit, and a statement about dissolution. Under the new Act, everything except for the name and statement of purpose must be moved to the bylaws.
A longer list of the major changes is described on our BC Act webpage.
How We Can Help
Organizations can complete the transition process themselves if they have a team of individuals, or an individual familiar with the new Societies Act, working to make the organization’s current Bylaws compliant and ensuring that transition is handled smoothly. We can assist organizations in a variety of ways – from providing general guidance all the way up to handling the entire process. Here are a few things we can do:
- Help you determine whether you are a ‘member-funded’ or ‘public-funded’ Society
- Assist you in moving dated clauses from your Constitution to your Bylaws
- Review your Bylaws and make notes indicating where your current Bylaws are non-compliant and could use governance improvements (i.e., membership structure, Board composition, etc.)
Replace your Bylaws with Societies Act-compliant Bylaws, incorporating your current operating and governance structure, and suggesting governance improvements
- Prepare a communication brief for your members describing the main changes
- Assist with answering questions from Members and Directors
- Provide the text of the motion to be moved at the AGM
- Submit your documents to Societies Online, the government portal for transition
The difference between ‘replace’ and ‘revise’ is mostly a time investment. It is quicker to provide an organization with brand new compliant Bylaws that incorporate (or update) elements from your current Bylaws – such as members, fiscal year, officers, director composition, etc. It takes longer to edit language and harmonize necessary elements with your existing Bylaws to ensure compliance. However, your Board may be more comfortable with the familiarity of the current Bylaws and may prefer a revision compared to a full replacement
PSO and Club Assistance
Every organization in BC that is incorporated under the Society Act will need to transition to compliance with the new Societies Act. The transition will not be done for you. If you are a Provincial Sport Organization (PSO) you may find it difficult to transition yourself and help all your clubs transition. However, this is an exciting opportunity for PSOs to get involved with the club’s operations and help improve governance and operations in your sport throughout the province.
For clubs, it is important to understand that your PSO should not be tasked with completing your transition process for you. Every club and local organization has its own unique Bylaws and these should not be replaced by a template or directive from the PSO. If a Board of nine members works for organizations in one region is does not necessarily mean that the same size Board works for organizations in all regions of BC. Clubs must take ownership of this process themselves to both work with the PSO and preserve their own unique identity.
We have worked with many organizations – PSOs, clubs, and other organizations – in their transition process and would be pleased to help your organization as well.
The following writings on our website contain additional information related to this topic:
- BC Societies Act – Practical Guidance for Transition
- BC Societies Act to come into force in November 2016!
View all our writings tagged with #bcsocietiesact