In other provinces the rural municipal council was a self-governing body, elected by the ratepayers to administer local affairs and make representations to the Provincial Government for special or emergent services. They also set, collected and disbursed the rural taxes and received and disbursed provincial grants, if any. In British Columbia the rural taxes still go to the Provincial Government, who in turn look after roads, bridges, the government buildings and provincial employees, etc. Considering the extreme diversity of settlements in British Columbia the Government agent system is the best that could be legislated. Nevertheless, settlers from other provinces felt at first that they had no say in their own affairs.
Furthermore, the isolation before the coming of railroad and highway access to the coast, was an incredible handicap to an understanding, much less recognition, of special needs of the biggest grain-farming area and only prairie land in the Province. Under some circumstances it took a week or more to get to Victoria, and another week to get back.
In these circumstances the Farmers’ Institutes acted somewhat like a Rural Municipal Council. From them the local members of the legislature got their ideas and their support, and through them new legislation was proposed by resolution, and brought to fruition. Policies were set for the betterment of the area. Their work was invaluable. The history of the accomplishments of District “J” Farmers’ Institute, up to 1965, by Mr. John Close shows the important part they played. If the only thing they accomplished was to form the Lakeview Credit Union, they would have justified their existence! Not only the farmers, but also the towns profited in the close liaison between farmers and businessmen.