School Tours FAQ

School Tours - Frequently Asked Questions

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Guided Tours

​How do I book a tour?

Free guided tours of the Parliament Buildings can be booked online.

Once your request has been accepted, you will receive an email to confirm the date and time of your visit.  The confirmation letter will also state if seats in the Public Gallery have been reserved for your group.

You will receive an email reminding you of your tour booking one week prior to your tour.

Please contact the Parliamentary Tour Program at (250) 387-9243 or at tours@leg.bc.ca if you have any questions.

How far in advance do I need to book?​​

The majority of school groups visit between March and June.  Tours during those months are often booked months in advance.

As there are fewer visits by school groups in the fall or winter, it is often easier to make a reservation.​

Do you offer tours in languages other than English?

Yes.  We offer tours in English and French year-round.  Other languages may be possible depending on the availability of staff.  Please contact the Parliamentary Tour Program for more information.​

When is the best time to visit?

The Parliamentary Tour Program delivers more than 500 tours to approximately 20,000 students each school year.  The majority of school groups visit between March and June.  Tours during those months are often booked months in advance.

We encourage teachers to consider visiting in the fall or winter when the tour schedule has more openings and the buildings are not as crowded.

The Summer Tour Program begins after the May long-weekend. This program often includes the Parliamentary Players Program.​

How long is a guided tour?

When the Legislative Assembly is sitting:

  • Tours last approximately 30 - 45 minutes.  Some areas of the Parliament Buildings that are normally included on the guided tour are not accessible when the Legislative Assembly is sitting. 
  • Plan to spend up to 1.5 hours at the Parliament Buildings if your group will be observing debates at the conclusion of your guided tour.

When the Legislative Assembly is not sitting: 

  • Tours last approximately 30 - 50 minutes.

Please note that tours may be re-routed, shortened, or cancelled at any time due to Parliamentary activity and events.​

​​What topics are discussed during a guided tour?

Guided tours provide an overview of the history of the province and an insight into the legislative process, in addition to allowing students the chance to view the architectural splendour of the Parliament Buildings.

If there is a topic of specific interest to your class, please let your tour guide know prior to the start of the tour.​

How many people can I bring on a tour?

When the Legislative Assembly is sitting:

  • If you wish to observe debates at the conclusion of your guided tour, the maximum number of people per tour (students, teachers, and parents) is 40.

When the Legislative Assembly is not sitting:

  • For groups that will be taking a guided tour and not observing debates, the maximum number of people per tour (students, teachers, and parents) is 50.​

Do we need a certain number of chaperones for our tour?

No.  Although we require the teacher to accompany the students at all times, we do not require chaperones to be present for the tour. 

If chaperones would prefer not to take the guided tour, we strongly encourage them to take a break and to rejoin your group at the conclusion of your visit.​


Observing Debates

Is it possible to observe debates from the public gallery?

Yes.  If the Legislative Assembly is sitting on the day of your visit, the Parliamentary Tour Program can arrange for seats in the Public Gallery at the conclusion of your guided tour. 

Your tour confirmation letter will state if seats have been reserved for your group.

School groups in the Public Gallery are limited to 40 people at a time as all other seats are reserved for members of the press, guests of MLAs, and the general public. 

Due to the number of school groups who wish to observe debates, each group is allotted 20 minutes in the Public Gallery.

Please note that most seats in the Public Gallery have partially-obstructed views.​

When does the Legislative Assembly meet?

When the Legislative Assembly is in session, it sits from Monday to Thursday of each week. It does not sit on Wednesday-mornings or on Fridays.

The Legislative Assembly typically meets between 5.5 to 7 hours per day when the House is sitting.  Groups can observe debates at any time that the House is sitting. 

Please consult the Parliamentary Calendar on the Legislative Assembly’s website for the most up-to-date schedule and hours of the Legislative Assembly.​

When is Question Period?

Question Period occurs Monday - Thursday.

For the duration of the current session of Parliament, Question Period is scheduled as:

  • Monday and Wednesday:
    shortly after the start of the afternoon sitting at approximately 2:00 pm

  • Tuesday and Thursday:
    shortly after the start of the morning sitting at approximately 10:30 am

Only groups that have reserved tours at the following times will observe parts of Question Period from the Public Gallery:

  • Monday and Wednesday: 1:00 pm and 1:30 pm​​
  • Tuesday and Thursday: 9:30 am and 10:00 am​

What is Question Period?

Question Period takes place each day and lasts for 30 minutes.  The purpose of Question Period is to provide MLAs with the opportunity to question the Premier and Members of Cabinet about the plans and activities of government.

Question Period is often lively, with MLAs intervening on each other's speeches to support or challenge what is being said. It is a dynamic style of discussion, in which MLAs generally respond to the points made by other Members rather than speaking from prepared notes.

While the rules may be different from those in your classroom, rules do apply during Question Period. For example, MLAs have a right to be heard without overwhelming background noise and unparliamentary language is not permitted. It is the Speaker’s responsibility to oversee the proceedings and to enforce the rules found in the Standing Orders of the Legislative Assembly.​

What will be discussed in the Legislative Assembly at the time of our visit?

Outside of the scheduled daily Business of the House (such as Question Period) and Private Members’ Time (Monday mornings), the major part of the day’s sitting is spent debating legislation (bills) proposed by the government.

Visit the Legislation section of our website to see what bills have been introduced during the current session of the Legislative Assembly.

All bills must pass through three readings and a Committee stage before they can be presented to the Lieutenant Governor for Royal Assent. In addition to debating bills, other business that may be discussed at the time of your visit includes: Throne Speech Debate, Budget Debate, and Committee of Supply debates.​

What are the rules of the Public Gallery?

security_warnings.gifAll visitors must pass through a security scanning station (similar to those at an airport) before entering the Public Gallery.

Backpacks, notebooks, pens and pencils, cameras, cell phones and all other electronic devices are not permitted and must be left at the security station.​

Visitors must refrain from talking, reading, applauding, or taking notes while in the Public Gallery.

Photography is not permitted in the Public Gallery.

Visitors must rise during the Speaker’s Procession and the reading of prayers.​

​Parliamentary Calendar

When is the Parliamentary Calendar released?

The Parliamentary Calendar for the year is typically released in early January. 

Please be aware that the Parliamentary Calendar can be changed at any time.  The Calendar that appears on the main page of Legislative Assembly’s website is the most up-to-date listing for sittings of the Legislative Assembly. 

Please note that staff of the Parliamentary Tour Program do not have any information about future sittings of the Legislative Assembly until the calendar is released and it appears on the website.​

​Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs)

Will our class be able to meet with an MLA?

The Parliamentary Tour Program notifies your school's MLA and invites them to meet with your class. We will use your school's postal code to determine which MLA to contact.

As the Members have very busy schedules, we cannot guarantee that they will be available to meet with your class.

The Parliamentary Tour Program is pleased to take a digital photograph of your group with your MLA. Please complete the Photo Consent Form and bring it with you on the day of your visit.​

Who is my school's MLA?

The Parliamentary Tour Program uses your school's postal code to determine which MLA to contact.

Use the MLA Finder to determine your school's MLA and to learn more about them.​

Learning Resources

Are there any resources to help my class prepare for their visit?

  • Visit our Information for Teachers page for a variety of educational resources, including lesson plans, classroom activities, fact sheets, posters, and videos.
  • Visit our Discover Your Legislature page for an interactive program on the Legislative Assembly, the legislative process, and the history of the Parliament Buildings.
  • Full transcripts and video of debates (including special events such as the Speech from the Throne and visits from distinguished guests) can be viewed on the Hansard Services section of our website.
  • See what bills have been introduced during the current or past sessions of the Legislative Assembly.
  • Visit the MLA Finder to learn more about your school's MLA.
  • View the MLA Seating Plan to find out where your MLA sits.
  • Download our Chamber Poster (French - Chamber Poster) to see inside the Legislative Assembly.
  • Find out more about the rules of the Legislative Assembly in the Related Sites page for links to a multitude of great educational links from Canada and around the world.​

Are there any programs for teachers offered by the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia?

Yes.  The Legislative Assembly offers an annual British Columbia Teachers’ Institute on Parliamentary Democracy for teachers at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

The Teacher’s Institute is an intensive professional development opportunity for teachers of social studies and related subjects for grades 4 through 12.  Teachers are invited to come to the Parliament Buildings in October and learn about parliamentary democracy and the political process.​

Other Questions

How long does it take to get from the ferry terminal at Schwartz Bay to the Parliament Buildings?

The drive to downtown can take as long as 1 hour from the time of your arrival at Swartz Bay.​

​Is there public parking at the Parliament Buildings?

No. Street parking and pay-parking lots are located nearby. For more information, please visit our Visitor Parking page.​

What should we do when we arrive for our tour?

Please arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your tour and check in at the School Group Entrance at the back of the Parliament Buildings, on the East side of the Legislative Library. 

Please bring your Tour Confirmation Letter and signed copies of the Behavioural Expectations and Photo Consent Form​.

Are the Parliament Buildings wheelchair accessible?

Yes, the Parliament Buildings are accessible for visitors in wheelchairs and those with limited mobility or young children in strollers. Please follow the ramp on the west side of the Main Entrance steps and ring the buzzer for assistance.​

Is there a place for our students to leave their belongings during the tour?

No, the Parliamentary Tour Office is not able to store bags and backpacks. Students are encouraged to leave their belongings on the bus, or will have to carry them while on tour.​

Is there a place for our students to eat lunch at the Parliament Buildings?

There is not a place for groups to eat inside the Parliament Buildings, however groups are welcome to order lunches from the Parliamentary Dining Room to enjoy outside. Please visit the Dining Room's website for more information.​​

Is there a lost and found at the Parliament Buildings?

Yes. Please contact Legislative Assembly Protective Services at 250-387-5516 if anyone in your group has lost anything.

Are there items that should not be brought to the Parliament Buildings?

Yes. The following items are prohibited in the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia: aerosol containers; non-aerosol sprays (prescriptions for medical needs are permitted); any pointed object, e.g., knitting needles and letter openers (pens and pencils are permitted); electric stun guns, martial arts weapons or devices; guns, replica guns, ammunition and fireworks; knives of any size; mace and pepper spray; and razors and box cutters.

The Legislative Assembly Protective Services are authorized to make exceptions if a prohibited item is determined to be necessary and required to serve child care, medical or other special needs. If you have questions, please call the British Columbia Legislative Assembly Protective Services (250-387-5555).


 

 On This Page

​​Guided Tour​s
Observing Debates
​Parliamentary Calendar
​Members of the Legislative Assembly
​Learning Resources
​​Other Questions
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